Day 6 Jomolhari Trek

It was a bitter cold night — somewhere in the teens Fahrenheit. Stayed in sleeping bag until 6 AM. My water bottle in the tent had ice in it. When I crawled out of the tent I found the crew around the stove which was now outside the dining tent. Just looking at these photos now makes me feel cold. The man on the ground holding the white mug is a visitor from a different group. Our stove was popular last evening and this morning.




Time to feed the horses. They knew it too and headed back into camp.






At 6:30 AM the light started getting interesting. The horses didn’t care, they had their feedbags.




We decided to smoke the horses.


The 8-shot panorama below gives an overview of Thombu Shong. Our pass for the day, Thombu La, is in the center of the image. The pass is the center notch along the ridgeline. If you zoom in you can see the prayer flags there. We have to go far up in order to take a very long downhill to finish the trek.

You can double click on the image to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.

We had our last breakfast of the trek and we were off to scale our last pass. Our camp was at 13,713 ft — the highest overnight spot of the trek — and the pass at 14,370 ft so it was the easiest of the three passes, less than 1000 ft up. After the pass we would have a long downhill — with some climbs mixed in for good measure — to Sharma Zampa at 8,580 ft, a full 5,790 ft below the pass. And people wonder why very few do this trek in reverse.

You can see the nomad hut from where we borrowed the stove in the photos below.



Here is an overview of Thombu Shong looking back from a short way up to the pass. The pass (Takhung La) and the trail down from the previous day can be seen.


The 12-shot panorama below was made shortly before we reached Thombu La. Stephen paused to take a photo with his phone. We came up the trail from the right. Phub is farther along just above the back brim of Stephen’s hat. The pass can be seen above Stephen’s head. If you zoom into the very top right of this image you can find our pass of the previous day and the trail leading down from it.

You can double click on the image to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.

We reached the pass and immediately started down. Some parts were steep, other more gradual, and some stretches were uphill climbs.



Sometimes shots into the sun work well. I got a lot of flare with this one. Phub found and identified for us some snow leopard scat.



We has some dramatic clouds on the way down.


Going down is not always a linear process.



Below I’m standing at the turn of a switchback. I had just walked down the trail in my shadow. Phub and Stephen are far ahead near the middle top of the photo.


Sometimes you have to go up to go down.


We stepped aside for a pack train of horses. A short time later we learned that they can be dangerous on a downhill slope.


Parts of the trail were rugged and dramatic.


Still 2 hours before we got down, I captured a telephoto view of the Paro Chhu valley and the army base at Gunitsawa.


On a steep slope we had a harrowing experience. Horses don’t walk slowly on steep downhill slopes; they run. The “rule” is the get off the trail fast on the uphill side. We both got somewhat above the trail, but it was actually on the downhill side. Phub jumped in front of the horses to try to slow them down. We survived, obviously, but it was a bit scary.



We were now getting below tree line. I got two photos that included the sun that didn’t have bad flare. I love shooting into the sun.



The trees were beautiful backlit. We had lunch near these spots.



Finally the end was in sight. I took these two photo of the Paro Chhu valley 13 minutes apart.



When we got down to Sharma Zampa, which is just a location not a village, I took a last photo of Phub and our cook.



Lakey and Kencho (not shown) were waiting for us to take us to a hotel in Thimphu for an afternoon nap and dinner.


We followed these horses along the dusty road for quite a while until we could force our way through and past them. Kencho was careful not to drive right next to the horse carrying the cylinder of propane. We were again glad our trek did not include a day walking this road at the start and another at the end of the trek like many tour companies plan.


Here are some other photos I took on the last day of a great Jomolhari Trek.  Thank you Phub and Dhamey.