Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Chomolahari, Divine Mountain Goddess

Greetings All,
It is Day 4 of our trek.  We are trekking with a group of ten, 7 from the UK, 2 from the USA (us) and 1 from Australia.  There are 8 men and 2 women in our group.  We are supported by a Bhutanese guide, an assistant guide, a cook, 2 kitchen staff, 3 camp staff and 5 horse men.  All our gear, food, fuel, tents, trek bags, tables, chairs and kitchen gear is being carried by 38 pack ponies and mules.  It is quite an undertaken to bring 10 people on a 26 day trek into such remote areas.

Our Lead Pack Mule

We spent the first 2 days climbing through a cloud forest with massive pine trees draped in Spanish Moss, ferns and lichen.  

Spanish Moss or Old Man's Beard

The weather was not cooperative with cloudy skies and rain showers.  The trail climbed along the Paro River which we crossed on log bridges adorned with Buddhist prayer flags.  

Peggy on a Bridge Crossing the Paro River

 We hopped from rock to rock to avoid the worst of the thick mud.  We're currently camped at Jangothang at 13,200 feet.   

Breakfast at Jangothang

We were at this spot 21 years ago when we did the Chomolohari Trek!  The first 5 days of the Chomolarhari Trek coincide with the Snowman Trek which we are doing now.  A lot has changed in 21 years.  There are more people living in the valley, more trekkers and cell phone coverage at this camp!  This morning the weather finally cleared and we were treated to a view of the massive east face of Chomolohari (23,997 feet) Bhutan's sacred mountain. The peak straddles the Bhutan/ Tibet border and has been climbed only 6 times.  It is forbidden to climb Chomolohari from Bhutan as it is believed to be the abode of one of the female protector goddesses (Jomo) of Tibet and Bhutan.

East Face of Chomolohari, a ruined Fortress s in the foreground

In front of Chomolohari are the ruins of an ancient fortress.  Out guide Namgay told us the legend  behind the Dzong.  Long ago the king of this region ordered his subjects to remove the top of the ridge that was blocking the morning sun.  The people started this formidable task but soon revolted, killing the king.  The fortress was abandoned and fell into ruin.  

Today we did an acclimatization hike to prepare us for our first pass crossing tomorrow.  We hiked 1200 feet above camp to two lakes and an impressive view of Jitchu Drake.  From this angle the pyramidal shape of Jitchu Drake is unmistakable.

Marc and Peggy with Jitchu Drake in the Background
That's it for now.  Bandwidth is limited.  
We hope all is well back home.

Peggy and Marc 


Anonymous said...

Making me think of Lost Horizon! Curious what the locals, natives have to share..the colors Imlove, that snow capped mountin range in the background Fantastic!
You know who anonymous is!

Chris & Alison said...

Hello Marc & Peggy - my husband works with a friend of yours at Mass DEP. We are planning a trip to Bhutan next year for our 20th and are considering Chomalhari - would love any recommendations. Especially - travel company recommendations. We would like to stay at Uma Paro - they offer a trek, but are also open to other alternatives.

Portsmouth, NH

Marc & Peggy Faucher said...

Hi Alison,
We used Geographic Expeditions for our first trip to Bhutan. They are a US based company and are quite pricey. For our recent trip we used KE Adventure Travel based in the UK. This was our 13th trip with KE. They are more affordable than US companies and offer good value. Both companies use Yangphel Adventure Travel, the local Bhutan tour operator and offer a wide range of trekking and cultural trips. Hope this helps.