Bhutan’s Snowman Trek: Day 7 – Chebisa To Shomuthang Via Gombu La

Previous Post: Day 6 – Lingshi Camp To Chebisa

  • calendar date: Friday, October 4, 2019
  • time: 7 hours
  • distance: 13 km.
  • start point altitude: Chebisa 3900 m
  • endpoint campsite: Shomuthang  4217m
  • high pass crossing:   Gombu La 4447 m
  • Maps: Bart jordans’ Trekking In Bhutan has some useful overview maps of the many possible variations of the Snowman Trek, as well as others.
  • Google Earth – satellite view here
  • altitude graph showing high passes and campsites of the first ten days of the Snowman Trek here
  • I used a Sony RX100 III to capture most of the images you’ll see below; a fellow trekker’s Huawei P30 captured the others. (Thanks again, O, for letting me use them!)\

Amazingly, no rain on this day and periods of sunshine. I could get used to this!

This day would require a bit more effort than the easy day we had from Lingshi Camp to Chebisa.  It would start with a steady ascent to the second pass of our trek, Gombu La at 4447m, some 550 meters higher than our campsite.

Topo And Satellite Views of the Day’s Walk:

satellite view – from Chebisa to Shomuthang

a few of our horses waiting for their day’s work assignments in Chebisa

Chebisa village dog at our campsite

Chebisa – the breakfast tent –

We started off our day with a brief visit to a local shop selling sundry items of interest to trekkers – chocolate bars, nuts, cookies, and such.  The building was decorated in traditional Bhutanese style as the images below make clear.  On the wall were murals of mythical creatures connected with stories which the locals have heard since childhood.

last-minute shopping in Chebisa – sundry items


elephant with dharma bowl on top

garuda biting naga (snake) image on Chebisa house

garuda biting naga (snake) image on Chebisa house

Chebisa house detail – Himalayan Buddhist baroque!

As we left the village I saw this dog nestled in a sheltered spot – a roofed-over shelter housing a supply of dried yak manure which the locals use in the winter for fuel. Like the dog at the campground in the photo above, this one could use some attention and a good combing to get out all those burrs.

Chebisa dog and supply of dried yak dung patties

As both the map and the satellite image make clear,  we made a steep ascent out of Chebisa valley and then continued on a gradual uphill trail to the high pass of the day, a 575-meter gain over the first two hours of the day’s walk.

panorama – the trail above Chebisa on the way to Gombu La

a section of trail about four kilometers above Chebisa on the way to Gombu La

the trail to Gombu La from Chebisa

Gombu La: 

Two hours after starting off from Chebisa we were at Gombu La, our second high pass of the trek.  We sat there for a while, enjoying the view. Coming up behind us were the first of the horses. We would let them pass before we continued on with a 250-meter descent in the next valley.

Gombu La – the high pass of Day 7 on the Snowman Trek

trekking crew at rest on Gombu La

a few of our horses approaching Gombu La from Chebisa

trek horses approaching Gombu La

stone ruins on the side of the trail to a campsite near Shomuthang

glacial stream on the way to a campsite near Shomuthang

a distant view of our Day 7 campsite near Shomuthang

approaching Shomuthang camp on Day 7 afternoon

We had left Chebisa around 8:00; it was now 3:00 and our day was done. As we approached the campsite, we could see that all the tents were already up. Just in front of the blue cook tent visible in the image below was a stream that we hopped over to get to the site.

our Shomuthang campsite – Snowman trek Day 7

Later that afternoon I checked my Polar M430 fitness tracker for the stats.  I can’t vouch for their total accuracy but this is what it looked like –

The problem with my tent door zipper was fixed in a jiffy by Angel, whose multi-tool pliers got the job done in less than a minute. He has probably done this a thousand times on different expeditions.  the tent was a great one – a very spacious and new Marmot four-season tent. It may be that the crew set it up too taut and that created the zipper problem.

The Importance of Your Tent!

Trekkers will be spending at least 40% of each day in their tents so having a comfortable one is crucial.  For most trekkers, it begins with having your own, as opposed to sharing it with someone else.  I have even talked to couples who wished that they had gotten their own tents!

At the end of each day’s walk, I would spend at least an hour or not more before supper in my tent, arranging things and then enjoying some of the warmth that slipping in my unstuffed sleeping bag provided.

Supper was usually around 6:00 to 6:30 and by 8:00 p.m. the dining tent was empty and everyone had gone to their tents.  Wake-up was around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. so that was ten hours of tent time each day – 40% of your time in Bhutan!  An important question to ask your local trekking agency is this – what tent do you provide? Do I have to share it with someone?  I saw a Canadian group at Jomolhari with much cheaper A-frames that did not look as roomy as the Marmot Thor 3-Person tent that I had for my own use. And they were two per tent!

While we had walked about the same distance as the day before, I had burned 50% more calories to do so!  The next day would prove to be a bit less taxing than this one. We would start off with a walk up the valley from our meadow campsite to the day’s high pass.   The next post has all the details!

Chebisa to Gombu La to Shomuthang – satellite view

Next Post: Day 8 – Shobuthang To Robluthang

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