Bhutan’s Snowman Trek: Day 19 – Tsho Chena To Jichu Dramo Via Loju La

Previous Post: Day 18 – Chozo To Camp West of Tsho Chena Via Sintia La

  • calendar date: October 16, 2019.
  • time:  6 hours total, including lunch and rest breaks
  • distance: 20 km.
  • start point altitude: camp west of Tsho Chena  4925m
  • endpoint campsite: Jichu Dramo 5015 m; 5060m (Jordans)
  • high pass crossing: Loju La  5115 m (my Garmin inReach); 5145m (Jordans); 5140m (Lonely Planet)
  • Maps: Bart Jordans’ Trekking In Bhutan has some useful overview maps of the many possible variations of the Snowman, as well as of other treks.
  • See here for a Google Earth view of the day’s walk. It helps to use the Google Chrome browser!
  • I used a Sony RX100 III to frame 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!)

Camp west of Tsho Chena to Jichu Dramo Via Loju La

Snowman Day 19 – West of Tsho Chena to Jichu Dramo Via Loju La

We woke up to a bit of frost on the outside of the tents – and some condensation inside.  I had started to zip open the window above my head at the end of the tent to allow some ventilation.  Still, if we arrived at camp early enough in the afternoon, I’d drape my sleeping bag over the outside of the tent so it could catch some sun rays and dry out a bit.

early morning frost on our tent at our west-of-Tsho Chena camp

Tsho Chena Camp – our horses waiting for their day’s assignments

By the time we left camp at around 8:30, the moisture on the tent had already evaporated. The tent crew got to pack away tents that were not wet. In the image below you can see a large canvas sack in front of each trekker’s tent. Inside was the stuff that had been inside each tent:

  1. the trekker’s duffel bag – about 15 kg.
  2. a 1m x 2m wool carpet
  3. a Thermarest Basecamp sleeping pad
  4.  a pillow

I had initially declined the pillow and the carpet; it just seemed a bit over-the-top to me, thanks to forty years of spartan canoe trips where the motto is always “Less is better!”

Well, I got over it after a few days when I realized that those items were still part of the baggage being carried every day so I might as well make use of them. I’m glad I did!  Given the ten hours a day you spend in your tent, a comfortable space to crawl into at the end of each day is reassuring!

[Note: The Bhutanese agency, Yangphel Aventure Travel in Thimphu, organized our trek on behalf of World Expeditions, the Australian adventure travel company through which I actually booked my trip.  Not all agencies will necessarily provide the quality equipment that Yangphel did, from a three-person Marmot 4-season  tent for each of us to the items mentioned above.  As well, we were each loaned an excellent Marmot sleeping bag and, if requested, warm parkas. One Canadian trekking group of four I talked to had booked directly with a Thimphu company; they had two A-frame tents, with two per tent. It was crowded in there! Understanding exactly what gear – tent, bag, sleeping pad, etc. – that the agency will provide is essential before you set off.]

takedown of our camp near Tsho Chena

The day’s walk was an easy one in which we neither gained nor lost much altitude. There was a gradual elevation gain of about 200 meters over two-and-a-half hours from the campsite to Loju La. Along the way, we passed by a number of glacial lakes and puddles; current satellite imagery has many of them in a frozen state.

Also noteworthy is the shrinking size of these lakes. Looking at trip reports from a few years ago often show lakes that are noticeably larger in size. Given how shallow these “lakes” are, perhaps it does not take much to cause such a change. I wonder if there will be any lakes – or snow-covered peaks – in this stretch of the Snowman in twenty years.

two shallow glacial lakes just below our Day 18 Campsite

The photo below was taken from a scenic lookout at 5100 meters we came to about an hour into the walk.  Looking back I could still see some of our orange tents were up.

looking back at the first hour of the day’s walk – enlarge to see our previous day’s campsite

a glacial lake before Loju La – it could be Tsho Chena

We got to Loju La pass just before 11, 2.5 hours after setting off. We relaxed for a while and enjoyed the views and the feel of the sun.  We waited long enough that the lunch team – Karma and Kinley and a horse handler, as well as three horses carrying all the food and gear – came up to the pass and continued on down the other side.

laptse (pile of stones) and prayer flags at Loju La – Day 19 of the Snowman trek

Angel ‘s photo – our lunch team crossing Loju La on Day 19 of the Snowman Trek

the glacial puddle below Loju La on the south side

We would soon follow them down.  One of my fellow trekkers took the shot below of that glacial lake I had framed from on top of the pass. Nicely captured is the clarity of the water.  I do wonder if that puddle is even a half-meter deep!

glacial puddle on the south side of Loju La

Lunch came shortly afterwards and, as you can see from the image a couple down, it was the usual deluxe affair, complete with table cloths! Note the Helinox chairs provided – they represent a major investment for the agency!

lunch below Loju La – Bhutan trekking style

scenic view on the south side of Loju La on the Snowman Trek in Bhutan

a close up of the dominant peak in the above stretch of rock

After lunch, it was less than two hours to our campsite over fairly flat terrain.  I must have gone into a walking trance because I took no more photos this day, not even of our campsite at Jichu La as we arrived!  At 5015m e we were about 100 meters higher than at the start of the day.

Luckily, the next morning would provide some dramatic campsite images!

Next Post: Day 20 – Jichu Dramo To Tsho Tsho Tshang Via Rinchen Zoe La

some stunning shots from Rinchen Zoe La…the Snowman’s highest pass

a yak team crossing Rinchen Zoe La at 5325 m – the highest pass of the Snowman trek

 

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