Bhutan’s Snowman Trek: Day 8 – Shomuthang To Robluthang Via Jare La

Previous Post: Day 7 – Chebisa Via Gombu La to Shomuthang

  • calendar date: October 5, 2019
  • time: left camp at 8:00 and arrived at Robluthang at 2 – 6 hours/4 of actual walking
  • distance: 11 km  on my Polar M430/10  on my Garmin inReach; 16 in Jordans’book
  • start point altitude: Shomuthang  4217m
  • endpoint campsite: Robluthang 4155m
  • high pass crossing: Jare La  4785m
  • Maps: Bart Jordans’ Trekking In Bhutan has useful overview maps of the many possible variations of the Snowman and other treks.
  • See here for a graph showing high pass and campsite altitudes for each day of the trek from Shana to Laya.
  • 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!)

Topo View And Satellite View of the Day’s Walk:

Shomuthang to Robluthang via Jare La (4785m)

The first part of the day involved a gradual ascent to Jare La, a two-hour walk up the valley you see in the satellite image below.  Once we got to the pass, we relaxed for a half-hour, taking in the somewhat clouded-over views.

From Shomuthang To Jare La:

Shomuthang campsite – dining and cook tents and horse blankets

horses returning to Shomuthang camp from the meadows above

an hour into our walk to Robluthang from Shomuthang

flowers on the Himalayan hillside

flowers on the Himalayan hillside above Shomuthang

looking back at the terrain we had covered from Shomuthang

Jare La coming up – two hours after leaving our Shomuthang campsite.

Day 8 … Shomuthang to Jare La to Jholethang Chhu to Robluthang campsite

trekkers approaching Jare La from Shomuthang

trekkers approaching Jare La on the way to Robluthang

Jare La – high pass between Shomuthang and Robluthang

Jare La – on the way to Robluthang

a mountain view from Jare La – Snowman Trek

From the pass, we walked down a fairly decent trail, at first a rather barren and open and then more forested and muddy as we approached the valley floor.  We would stop at a thang (i.e. meadow/flat spot) to have lunch before moving on to the log bridge crossing the Jholethang Chhu.

on the way to Robluthang – a view on the descent from Jare La to the valley floor

dirt trail on the forested slope of Jare La

lunch down on the side valley floor  near the Jholethang Chhu

Lunch was a bit of a wait since we arrived at the spot before the lunch crew did! When the others were served tuna with their rice, I asked Kunley if he could provide me with some cashews as a substitute.  []This would be the beginning of adaptations which would leave me in better spirits and in better shape to deal with the caloric requirements of the trek!]

After lunch, we moved towards the Jholethang Chhu and the extensive grazing land along its banks.  We crossed a somewhat precarious log bridge over the stream, and then we were on the east side of the river, standing at the north end of extensive yak grazing grounds.

Log bridge across the Jholethang Chhu

The image below shows the view looking north up the valley, which comes down from the Tibet border ten kilometers away.  Our Robluthang campsite was a couple of kilometers up this valley.

In the image below, the beginning of the trail is visible on the right-hand side. Steep at first,  it eventually levelled out to a gradual ascent to our campsite, a fair-sized meadow or thang.  (Click here to access a Google Earth view of the neighbourhood!)

looking north up the Jholethang Chhu to the Tibetan border

Of this valley, the Lonely Planet guide to Bhutan notes this:

Herds of takin migrate to this valley in the summer and remain here for about four months. Takins are easily disturbed by the presence of other animals, including humans….The valley has been declared a special takin sanctuary and yak herders have agreed not to graze their animals in the valley while the takin are here.  [Lonely Planet. Bhutan. (6th Edition) p. 188.]

No takin here when we passed through but a dozen yak grazing,  as well as a yak herder’s tarp shelter off image to the right closer to the river flowing down the valley.

a view of the grassland on the east side of the Jholethang Chhu

from the Jholethang Chhu up its east flank to the Robluthang Campsite

Robluthang campsite – one of a few choices for trekking groups

some of our horse train coming into Robluthang campsite

horses coming into Robluthang camp in the afternoon

four of our horses entering Robluthang camp with trekker duffels and other camp gear

A Happy Vegan!

Supper – for the second night in a row, I was able to stuff myself!  More aloo gobi, the curried Indian potato and cauliflower dish. And on top of that, a Bengali brown lentil dal-like watery stew to pour over the rice, which made it so much more enticing! But wait – there’s more!  The cook had prepared a vegetable soup without an animal-derived broth or milk product in it!  Trek soup is yet another way to ensure the clients stay well-hydrated; I had two bowls.

Those doubts I had earlier about not having the energy to finish the trek! Well, they had been allayed thanks to the past two days’ supper fare.  For the rest of the trek, the cook would prepare a special soup for the two vegan trekkers, and I would get bowls of cashew nuts as a substitute for whatever meat dish the others were presented with.  Things were looking up!

Next Post: Day 9 – Robluthang To Limithang


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2 Responses to Bhutan’s Snowman Trek: Day 8 – Shomuthang To Robluthang Via Jare La

  1. Jim Ladds says:

    Absolutely spectacular Peter! Not only the scenery, the ways of the locals, the beautiful pics of the amazing flora that manages to thrive in that environment, but your courage to go on an adventure like that in a foreign country. Thanks for making the time to post all this great stuff. Greatly enjoying it! I especially like the style and manner in which you’ve put each day of the trek together! Excellent Sir!

    • true_north says:

      …and thank you, Jim, for taking the time to look at it! I realize that most people who click into my site are gone in about 23 seconds – that is just the reality of the internet!

      My blog began as an outlet for all the photos I was coming home with – and then just dumping on my computer hard drive and doing nothing with. My blog also lets me continue being a “teacher” as I write about various adventure travel possibilities around the world.

      BTW – best wishes to you and yours for 2020 out there in B.C. as you settle into retirement! Who knows? Maybe you’ll be posting stuff too!

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