August 16, 2012
- Meili Snow Mountain: 5-6 hour (8+ kilometer) hike to Mingyong glacier (August 16)
The journey to the Meili Snow Mountain took us on a long drive up the winding, mountainous roads of Deqin county.
Fair warning though, the roads are undeveloped and rocky. Thankfully, we had a skillful driver who can drive along the narrow road barely wide enough for two cars to pass.
After the long drive, we reached our hotel, where we were able to rest and wash up for dinner. Then, we took a stroll along the white stupas overlooking a gorgeous view of the snowy mountains.
The next day we awoke early, ate breakfast, and began our hike up the mountain. The highest peak of the Meili Snow Mountain is the sacred Kawagebo Peak (or Kawa Garbo in Tibetan for the warrior god) arising 6,740 meters into the air. No climber in history has ever made it to the top and furthermore there was a devastating mountaineering accident in 1991.
The hike was steep and slow-going due to the muddy paths. It is recommended that one goes at a slow but steady pace to avoid losing oxygen at the higher elevations. One should bring cans of oxygen if needed. Also, there are donkeys that one can hire for the downhill journey if one tires.
We made it to the halfway point at a small resting place, where one can purchase bottled water.
Our guide gave us the option of heading back down but we opted to continue climbing to the temple closest to the Mingyong glacier. After 3-4 more hours of steady hiking, we reached a Buddhist temple, where we paid respects at the Taizi temple.
The Mingyong glacier (5,500 meters) was a beautiful sight. Standing near the cliff side, the colorful Tibetan banners waved with the wind as if in greeting. The sun shone over the glacier making it sparkle as it stretched down towards the lush forests. Our guide told us that the glacier would have been grander if it had not been retreating due to climate change in Deqin.
Our journey back down was by foot. Our second wind kicking in as we carefully made our way down past the herd of donkeys and other visitors making their way up. The overall experience was exhilarating and worth the sight. We returned to the village at the foot of the mountain, where we enjoyed a lunch of hot yak meat soup and noodles. What a reward for a group of ravenous pilgrims!
Afterwards, we would begin our long drive back to Shangri-La, where we stayed the night before heading to Beijing.
The natural sight of the Meili Snow Mountain was very beautiful. I cannot imagine how in later years the sight will change, especially with the development of better roads and the retreat of the glacier due to increasing temperatures. Overall, the experience was worth it. The hotel amenities although not as good was reasonable enough for a few nights’ stay for a traveling pilgrim.
Travel China Guide. (2014, October 15). Deqing Meili Snow Mountain. Retrieved from http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/yunnan/shangri_la/meili.htm