Trekking in the Dolpo - Back over the Kang La

Despite losing 2 days in Nepalgunj at the start of the trek, we are now back on schedule. The weather, however, is cold so rather than stop at High Camp again on the return leg BB suggested going further and getting down to main valley north of Phoksumdo, much lower and back into the forest. This made for a big day with over 1000m of the climb and nearly 2000m of descent. Although Christine was nervous about it at the beginning of the day, given how hard the first crossing of the pass was, it went really well, was a huge confidence booster, and confirmed that we still have what it takes.
The long slog up to Kang La

It snowed in the night.  For a moment I thought I was going to have to dig my boots out from the bottom of my bag. The pony man was sticking with his plimsolls, BB didn't mention crampons, so no, I stuck with my Inov8s.
Following the ponies to the top
It was a long way back to pass, we'd forgotten how far, but this meant that we regained much of the 1000m, without really noticing the climb. The final pull, a steep ascent but shorter than our memory from just two days ago suggested, was surprisingly easy and when we got to top we both felt that sense of euphoria you get on completing a challenge that had seemed intimidating. It reminded us why we do these trips.
A yak welcome party

Arriving at Kang La

The sense of well-being was reinforced by the view, a phalanx of yaks, fully laden with timber, lined up dramatically and preparing to descend the pass.
Made it!

Our response to the sense of accomplishment was the standard one, we got the whole party together and took a group photograph.
The team less BB
Descending from the pass the weather for a time got worse. It was snowing heavily and the scenery, overwhelmingly gray, felt bleak and desolate and fully vindicated BBs decision not to stop at High Camp.
We stopped for our picnic lunch (the porters don't like missing their hot mid-day meal but sometimes needs must) and pressed on down into the gulley. Like the ascent up to the pass the descent was so much longer than we remembered and the treacherous stream crossings so much more frequent. We met yet more yak caravans all loaded with great planks of timber and at times we had to climb high above the path to let them through.
Armoured yaks

We were starting to tire when in the distance we saw a nimble figure quickly making its way up the gorge. Mani, anticipating our need to perfection, arrived carrying black tea - only in Nepal do you get a service like this.
Bringing on the yaks
The campsite was a damp one, close to a river that's as noisy as a jet engine, but it was warm and the air, a 1000m lower, felt thick. After crossing the pass, the last real challenge, it feels like we are on our way back.


  1. It all looks like a great adventure. The striking aspect that comes across is that you are, apart from being a long married couple, a good team. I have done all my long backpacking walks solo because I reckon that when you are with someone else there is always some compromise going on, either spoken or unspoken, but I get the impression you have the means and mutual frankness to work through that kind of thing.