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Trekking Tour Kharta
to Kangshung Valley
Detail Itinerary :
Day 1: The flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is spectacular. From Gongkar airport it is about 1½ hours' drive to Lhasa , first along the Yarlung Tsangpo then into the Kyi Chu Valley .
Days 2-3 : With a relaxed pace to allow for the effects of altitude, explore this fantastic city on the roof of the world. The spiritual heart of Tibet is the Jokhang Temple and every morning is full of life as pilgrims bring offerings of butter and barley flour. The Potala Palace rises above the city and, more than any other sight, symbolizes the history and culture of Tibet . Nearby are the huge monastic universities of Drepung and Sera still active institutions.
Day 4: A long, yet scenic day's drive across the Khamba La and Kora La (passes), along the shores of Lake Yamdrok Tso to Gyantse. Once an important trading town, Gyantse retains a feel of old' Tibet.
Day 5: In the morning visit Gyantse's monastery Pelkor Choede and the justifiably famous Kumbum, within the same complex. There may also be time to visit the dzong (fort) that towers above the town. In the afternoon we make the short (2-3 hour) drive along the valley to Shigatse.
Day 6: Tashilhunpo is the seat of the Panchen Lama, second only in importance to the Dalai Lama. Its numerous halls contain a 21.6-meter wooden statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha and elaborate, jewel encrusted reliquary chorten. In the afternoon we drive to Xegar.
Day 7: Begins with a gentle hike up the Kharta Valley , passing prosperous farmhouses and fields. After lunch we turn south and ascend to our camp in what the English called the Valley of Lakes (14,000 feet ).
Day 8: W alking up the chain of alpine lakes, reminiscent of marvelously magnified colorado timberline country, to our camp below the Shao La (15, 300 feet). From here, if the weather allows, we have a chance to view of the immense massif of Makalu and Chomolonzo.
Day 9: We reach the Shao La (15, 300 feet). pass in early morning and as we descend on tundra gives way to stunning green, gold, and pastel red vegetation: juniper, silver fir, mountain ash, and rhododendron. We make camp near the mouth of a superb side valley that plunges a thousand feet to the Kama River (13, 280 feet).
Day 10: Begins with a steep winding climb through a Japanese wood-block forest. Wecontour above the Kama Valley, through dwarf rhododendron and blue primula, looking down-valley deep into Nepal, across to the looming mountain wall, dripping with hanging glaciers, and ahead for our first views of Everest. We camp near a pretty lake at 14,500 feet; just over a rise peek the summits of Chomolonzo (25,551 feet), Lhotse, and Everest.
Day 11: W e continue contouring to a spot called Sakyetang on the best map of the area, the "Mount Everest Region" 1:100,000 map published by the Royal Geographic Society (more on this map at itinerary's end). From here we look Kangshung Valley and three of the world's five highest mountains. The summit of Mount Everest is only 18 miles away. From Sakyetang we drop down to the confluence of the Kangshung and Kama valleys, cross a bridge, and hike into the Kangshung, camping in a clearing in dense foliage at about 14,150 feet . Lt. Col. C.K. Howard-Bury, who led the first expedition into these parts, wrote in Mount Everest : the Reconnaissance, 1921: "It was very curious to see fir trees, birch, and juniper, and a very luxuriant vegetation growing on either side of the ice and the moraines beneath it."
Day 12: takes us into the heart of the "valley like no other." We ascend gradually on a pleasant trail through willows and wind flowers, then steeply up and across a landslide - caused a decade ago by the slow collision of the Kandongshung Glacier with the mountainside we're walking on to a meadowy morainal shelf above the tumbling gray mass of the Kangshung Glacier. A couple of hours further on is our high camp, Pethang Ringmo.
Day 13: Pethang Ringmo was discovered by George Mallory and G.H. Bullock on that first expedition. When Howard-Bury joined them there he found: ...a most delightfully sunny spot at 16,400 feet, right under the gigantic and marvelously beautiful cliffs of Chomolonzo...separated from us by the Kangshung Glacier, here about a mile wide. Everest from here is seen to fill up the head of the valley with a most formidable circle of cliffs overhung by hanging glaciers.
Day 14: Some of us will want to get closer to the gargantuan East Face. Depending on the weather and other factors, our trip leader will decide if it is possible to hike to "Land's End". The walk takes a couple of hours along the grassy shelf and ends up overlooking the glacier at just over 17,000 feet. Only the daunting glacier separates us from the immense Kangshung wall. The summit of Everest is just over eight horizontal and two and a third vertical miles away. We're nearly encircled by mountains: (from the right) Khartse, the mass of Everest.
Day 15: Climb steeply to a point near Sakyetang, then contour northward, the whole Everest extravaganza just in back of us, and ascend to a camp next by an austere lake at 16,385 feet. The sunrise from this camp can bealmost frighteningly spectacular; in a few intense moments Everest and the whole panoply of peaks change from cold pewter to rose, to gold, to blinding white. Above the camp is the 17,600 foot Langma La.
Day 16: in a couple of hours for last views of Chomolungma, Goddess Mother of the World, and her towering court. From Langma La we descend a couple of thousand feet (passing a rare rock glacier on the way), back into Tibet, as it were, to camp (14,000 feet). On the morning of
Day 17: we descend to the Kharta Valley, farmhouses, fields, yaks, and kids, into the riverside camp where we began (12,500 feet).
Day 18: Drive from Kharta to Rombuk.
Day 19 : From Rhongphu to base camp is a 1½ to 2 hour walk of 7kms, continuing along the barren, rock strewn valley. This is followed by a fantastic drive through almost uninhabited valleys to the small town of Lao Tingri. Catch as last view of the mountain from here.
Another high pass gives a last, spectacular view of the Himalaya before descending to Nyalam.
Day 20: Descending to Zhangmu on the China-Nepal border. Completing border formalities the drive back to Kathmandu continues down the Bote Khosi valley.
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