The road less travelled – No Regrets

Despatch 31.05.10 – If there was any disappointment from our failure to climb a peak in the Kading Kangri massif it was soon dispelled. The last two days have reminded me that this trip was as much about getting off the beaten track and finding the real Tibet as climbing.

We’ve seen some amazing things, almost magical things, since leaving base camp. Having retraced our route around the north of the massif back to its east side, we camped once again at the end of the Lungkar valley, where it flows into the Taro Tso.

Last time we were here, we’d tried tickling trout without success and then were embarrassed to discover there’s a local Buddhist prohibition on catching fish. So when Martin saw a gull catch a three-pounder and then drop it he snatched it up and brought it to the tent. Alas, there were some doubtful glances and tomorrow’s breakfast ended back in the river.

That evening we spent a long time talking to some local nomads. Their lives are now changing fast. Part of that is a tightening of Chinese security, and also a program to move them out of tents and into houses, which has its upside. But the climate is changing too, drying up the valley where they graze their yaks and sheep.

We saw evidence of all this again today, as we drove south up the Pudog Tsango valley rather than head east back to Tsochen. This valley is a hundred miles long and several wild and full of nomads and animals, wild and domestic. We watched a group of goats being milked, tied up in a great bunch head to head and were shown the tent of the group looking after them. There was a baby a few weeks old asleep inside, born at an altitude of 17,000ft.

At the head of the valley are the Loinbo Kangri, another massif in the Kangdise range that has seen a little more attention than our mountain, with the highest peak in the Trans-Himalaya. We’ve taken a back route over the top that was the wildest road the drivers have been on, let alone me. Tomorrow we head for a monastery Julian discovered by chance that has kept much of its pre-Cultural Revolution charm. Then it’s back to Kathmandu, where I’ll send a final blog.

Ed Douglas                                             

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