• Jef Fuchs

The Tea Horse Road Expedition – 8 Years’ On…

Eight years ago this month, a team of mountain men that were in part desperate, utterly tough, and not entirely sure of what was to come, embarked on an expedition to trace what was left of the physical remnants of one of the globe’s most underrated trade routes.

It is time to include some shots and tributes of that journey through the sky.


Nomè (the most patient of all of us) leads our mule team up the Sho’La Pass


The Tea Horse Road, Cha Ma Dao (Mandarin), and Gyalam (Tibetan for ‘wide road’) ended up taking twice as long to complete – 7.5 months – and ended up being far more about the memories of the last traders, muleteers and participants than it would be about anything else.


Myself and Dorje enjoy a cave-bound hotspring and briefly contemplate being pious….briefly mind you.


The beings that shared in this odyssey with me: Sonam, Dakpa, Norbu, Nomè, and Dorje ended up becoming epic characters for all time in my mind.


From left: Dakpa (the charmer and linguist), Sonam (aka Spiderman), and Norbu (the Bull) upon the Sho La Pass where 20 minutes after this photo was taken, we almost lost Dakpa in a blizzard


Here a little tribute to them eight-years on from a journey that gave life, risked it, and finally inspired. A tribute too, to the mountains that have – up until now at least – kept us all safe, hemoglobin-rich, and in awe.


Incorrigible, beyond tough, and man I came to refer to as ‘the Peter O’Toole of the Mountains’…for reasons both provocative and good.


We were assisted and enriched by some mountains, a lot of tea, and the generosity of those with so very little, but who knew that they had been part of something epic (and by epic, I speak of the old connotation…of something truly huge). The Tea Horse Road was about far more than a route through the sky, a green leaf, or horses…it was about a  segment of rarely told mountain lore.


Kawa Gebo (aka Meili Xueshan, Meili Snow Mountain) in northwestern Yunnan, which threw a blizzard upon us, and very nearly take one of us.


A deep bow of appreciation to all of it


What fueled a good deal of the route and our passing along it…tea.


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