The Snowman Trek - Bhutan

Overview
The formidable Snowman Trek is billed as the world's toughest because of its difficult terrain, high altitude and distance. The expedition starts from Paro Valley in western Bhutan and passes along the Bhutan - Tibet border crossing the highest mountain passes and ends at Sephu Village in central Bhutan. The expedition encompasses 11 high passes, sleeping at the highest camp at 5050m and covering an average distance of 17Km each day. Views of perpetual snow - capped mountains, glacial lakes, the highest yak herder's settlement, rare blue sheep, blue poppies and varied flora and fauna are the highlights of this expedition.

Led By Alpine Ascent Guides Ben Jones or Todd Burleson.
Photos and bios at: http://www.alpineascents.com/guides.asp

Why Trek in Bhutan with Alpine Ascents?

  • As one of the world's foremost treks, the Snowman Trek greatly benefits from the expertise of a professional mountain guide leading the trip. Most companies simply hire local outfitters.
  • Each trek is led by an Alpine Ascents Professional Mountain Guide.
  • Alpine Ascents oversees all aspects of the trek, ensuring quality hotels, tents, and food on the trail and in town.
  • In addition to our lead guide, we employ trekking guide(s), a chef, assistants and horsemen.
  • We hire horses and yaks to carry all equipment.
  • Each trek is cybercast on our website.
  • We have over 20 years of experience guiding in the Himalaya.
  • Each trekker receives an Alpine Ascents logo item.
  • Alpine Ascents office and gear staff members will respond promptly to any queries and we look to work individually with each trekker during their preparations.


Day to Day Itinerary

August 30: Depart Home Country

August 31: Transit

September 1: Arrive Paro
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival, you are greeted by our guide and transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, we visit the Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower that is now the National Museum. The museum has a wide assortment of ancient paintings, armors, philatelic display and "field of Buddhas", which helps one to visualize while meditating. We then walk down the trail to visit the Rinpung Dzong, which means "fortress of the heap of jewels". The monastery has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. In the evening, we can stroll freely in Paro town, exploring the market and meeting with the locals and fellow travelers. Overnight hotel in Paro.

September 2: Acclimatization hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, Bhutan's most famous monastery, which stands at 3100m. This hike helps in acclimatization for the next day's trek. The 8th century Spiritual Master, Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. Lunch is served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. Explore the monastery and then hike back to Paro. Overnight at hotel in Paro.

September 3: Paro Shana (Trek starts)
Distance 17Km, Trek time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 300m, Camp altitude 2850m
The trek starts from Drugyal Dzong at 2,550m with a downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail climbs gently traversing through well - maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810m. This is the last stop before Tibet. At 2,850m, just beyond Shana Zampa, there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.

September 4: Shana - Soi Thangthangkha
Distance 17km, Trek time 6 - 7 hours, Ascent 900m, Camp altitude 3750m
The trail again follows Pa Chhu (Paro River), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch, we follow the river climbing up through rhododendron forests and after crossing the bridge again, reach the campsite at the altitude of 3,750m.

September 5: Soi Thangthangkha - Jangothang
Distance 19 km, Trek Time 4 - 5 hours, Ascent 300m, Camp altitude 4050m
The path ascends for a while until we reach the army camp. We then follow the river above the tree line enjoying the stunning view of surrounding peaks. Hot lunch is served inside a yak herder's camp. A short walk into the valley takes us to the camp at Jangothang at an altitude of 4,050m. From here, the views of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.

September 6: Acclimatization day & Exploration of Jangothang
Today is a rest and acclimatization day for the next day's highest climb on this trek. We hike to explore nearby mountains and lakes.

September 7: Jangothang - Lingshi
Distance 19km, Trek Time 6 - 7 hours, Ascent 800m, Descent 730m, Camp altitude 4100m
The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. Start the climb up to the first ridge with a breathtaking view of Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshering Gang. We then walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Ngye La pass at an altitude of 4,830m. After the pass, it is a gradual descent to the Lingshi Camp, enjoying the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong. Camp at an altitude of 4100m.

September 8: Lingshi - Chebisa
Distance 12km, Trek Time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 100m, Descent 250m, Camp altitude 3850m
This morning we visit Lingshi Dzong, also known as Yugyel Dzong. In the 17th century, it was used to control travel between Tibet and Bhutan. Since today's hike is not long, the pace is more relaxed. Upon reaching the camp at Chebisa (3850m), we have time to visit Chebisa Village and see a slice of Bhutanese village life.

September 9: Chebisa - Shomuthang
Distance 17 km, Trek time 6 - 7 hours, Ascent 570m, Descent 290m, Camp altitude 4130m
Start out by climbing the ridge behind Chebisa, and then tackling steep ascent up a featureless slope. There are large herds of blue sheep living in the rocks above. After crossing the Gobu La pass (4420m) descend down to the valley. The trail then goes steeply up the northern side of the valley, leveling out at about 4200 meters, passing a couple of herders' huts. The camp is in a cluster of bushes besides a stream at the base of the valley at Shomuthang, 4130m.

September 10: Shomuthang - Robluthang
Distance 15km, Trek time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 620m, Descent 590m, Camp altitude 4160m
The trek starts with a climb to Jari la pass (4,750m) then descending to Tsharijathang, the valley where herds of Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) are normally seen. The trail climbs steeply on the northern side to a crest at about 4150m. It then traverses into a side valley past a tiny lake. There are good camping places in a rocky meadow named Robluthang at 4160m.

September 11: Robluthang - Lingmithang
Distance 19 km, Trek time 7 - 8 hours, Ascent 850m, Descent 870m, Camp altitude 4140m
Starting early a strenuous hike leads to the Shinge La pass at 5010m. Later the descent is on a rough, rocky trail into a glacial valley, eventually reaching to Kango Chhu, a stream. After a short climb through rhododendrons, the trail levels out on a plateau above the Zamdo Nangi Chhu. It's then a short walk through a cedar forest interspersed with small meadows to Limithang (4140m), a lovely campsite in a big meadow by the river.

September 12: Lingmithang - Laya
Distance 10km, Trek time 3 - 4 hours, Ascent, Descent, Camp altitude 3850m
Today, a shorter hike follows a trail in and out of a heavily wooded, uninhabited valley. Climbing up out of the forests we will be rewarded with some great views of Gangchhenta and Masang Gang (7165m) mountains. We camp at Laya at 3850m. The village of Laya is the second highest settlement in the country.

September 13: Rest day at Laya
A day of rest and relaxation. One can take a leisurely walk through the village or go for short hike above the camp.

September 14: Laya - Rodophu
Distance 19km, Trek time 6 - 7 hours, Ascent 900m, Descent 70m, Camp altitude 4160m
The trek leads down to the Lunana trail junction and then climbs to hilltop with good views over the Mo Chhu and the Rhodo Chhu. The trail follows Rhodo Chhu valley, first through mixed conifers and then through rhododendron, above the tree line. From the top of a large rockslide, there is a view of the glacial valley and a massive glacier on Tsenda Gang (7100m). Our camp is just beyond a wooden bridge across the Rhodo Chhu river. Camp at Rodophu at 4160m.

September 15: Rodophu - Narithang
Distance 17km, Trek time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 755m, Descent 15m, Camp altitude 4900m
The trail today also follows the alpine grassland where yaks abound. The path follows the river through rhododendron shrubs before turning right up the hill. We then climb to a high open valley through meadows to Tshomo La Pass (4915m). The views of the Mount Jomolhari and Tibetan borders are absolutely breathtaking. Next we hike on the barren plateau intersecting several yak trails and after some time we arrive at Narithang (4900m), which is our camp for tonight.

Day16: Narithang - Tarina
Distance 18km, Trek time 6 - 7 hours, Ascent 220m, Descent 770m, Camp altitude 4350m
Today we climb Ganglakarchung Pass at an altitude of 5120m. From the pass, the views of Kangbum (6530m), Tsendhen Gang (7100m), Teri Gang (7300m) and Jejegangphu Gang (7120m) are superb. We descend through massive moraines to the edge of straight cliff with views of glacial hanging from Teri Gang that forms two turquoise - colored lakes at the base. An outburst on the lake towards the left in 1961, caused a flood downstream in Punakha destroying the Mochu Bridge. We descend through a steep path to the u-shaped valley following the Tangchu stream towards right to arrive at our camp at 4350m.

September 17: Tarina - Woche
Distance 15km, Trek time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 250m, Descent 310m, Camp altitude 4350m
Our trail passes through the junipers down the Tangchu River on the left passing through amazing waterfalls. After a gentle climb out of the valley for sometime, we make a steep ascent to Woche Village, the first settlement in Lunana region at an altitude of 4350m. The Woche Village marks the beginning of the Lunana region and above the village, we see tomorrow's route to Ledhi.

September 18: Woche - Lhedi
Distance 19km, Trek time 6 - 7 hours, Ascent 300m, Descent 450m, Camp altitude 4200m
Start climbing up the Woche Valley and cross a small stream to go over a moraine. We then descend to a wooden bridge across a Woche Chu River and climb up past a clear glacial lake to reach Keche La pass (4650m) with magnificent views of nearby mountains including three - prong peaks of Jejegangphu Gang mountain. The trail then descends to Pochu Valley and reaches Thaga Village at 4050m. In the late afternoons, one can expect bitterly cold winds at Thaga Vilalge in autumn. From the Thaga Village, we descend passing few scattered settlements, waterfalls and reach Lhedi (4200m) after walking along the Phochu River bed. Lhedi Village consists of a school, a basic health unit and a wireless station.

September 19: Lhedi - Thanza
Distance 19km, trek Time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 250m, Camp altitude 4250m
The trek is slightly eas today. We follow the north bank of Phochu River passing through several small farms and then reach Chuzo Village (4090m) sometime around the lunchtime. Enroute visit the Chezo Dzong. We follow the trail along the riverbed and then climb a steep hill overlooking Thanza Valley at 4250m.

September 20: Rest day in Thanza
We have a rest day at Thanza and explore the Thanza Village and nearby glacial lakes. Three hours of gradual hiking through small moraine rocks would, leads us to clusters of Raphstreng Tsho and Thorthormi Tsho. These lakes are the source of Phochu River of Punakha, which caused a flood in 1994 due to moraine outburst. The view of 7100m Table Mountain (locally known as Zongphu Gang) is superb because it forms 3000m high wall of ice and snow behind Thanza Village.

September 21: Thanza - Tshochena
Distance 18km, Trek time 7 - 8 hours, Ascent 750m, Camp altitude 5000m
Today we'll climb to a large boulder-hill towards south of Thanza. After few hours of easy walking, we reach Danji (4500m), which is a summer grazing ground for the yaks. At Danji, you may also see herds of blue sheep grazing on the meadows. From Danji, we climb few hundred meters up to the top of the ridge, which offers excellent views of surrounding mountains. Walking for another 20 minutes, we reach the junction of trails leading to Gangkar Phunsum and Tshochena. We take the trail to the right that leads to Jaze La pass. The Jazela pass, which is at 5200m, offers majestic views of surrounding mountains in all directions. From the pass, the trail descends through snow - capped peaks and lakes to Tshochena 5000m.

September 22: Tshochena - Jichu Dramo
Distance 14km, Trek time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 170m, Descent 120m, Camp altitude 5050m
We follow the shore of a blue - green lake and then climb to a ridge at 5150m, which offers panoramic views of snowy peaks in 360 - degree. From here, the road and the microwave tower at Dochu La can also be viewed in far distance. The trail goes up and down over a small rounded hill. We then pass a glacial lake and reach Loju La pass (5170m), which is a yak pasture with many criss-crossing yak trails. We take a trail that crosses a small saddle - like hill at 5120m to a wide glacial valley. We descend further down to Jichudramo Camp (5050m) - this is the highest campsite on our journey.

September 23: Jichu Dramo - Chukarpo
Distance 15km, Trek time 5 - 6 hours, Ascent 300m, Descent 950m, Camp altitude 4400m
We climb through a moraine path to the picturesque Rinchen Zoe pass (5350m), which divides Phochu and Mangdechu basins. The Gangkar Puensum (7520m), the highest mountain in Bhutan can be seen from this pass. Further, the demarcation between the forests and the barren high altitude areas are remarkably seen from here. Descending through a broad marshy valley with strings of lakes, steep face of moraine and yak pastures, we reach Tampe Chu, which is amidst rhododendron and juniper forests. We camp at Thongsa Thang (4400m) some distance away from Chukarpo.

September 24: Chukarpo - Tampetsho
Distance 19km, Trek time 7 - 8 hours, Descent 80m, Camp altitude 4320m
We descend following the right bank of a river to a Galapang yak pasture at 4025m. We then climb steeply through forests of junipers and silver firs until we reach Tampetsho. The trail to Tampetsho follows a stream to a beautiful clear turquoise - colored lake, which is set like in a bowl surrounded by steep ridges. We camp at the end of the lake, 4320m.

September 25: Tampetsho - Maraothang
Distance 24km, Trek time 4 - 5 hours, Ascent 280m, Descent 980m, Camp altitude 3620m
Today, we climb steeply to the Tampela Pass (4600m). The sight of blue sheep on the mountain slopes above trail is common here. We then descend to the Omtsho Lake. The legend has it that, in 15the century, the famous saint Terton Pema Lingpa miraculously discovered a treasure from this lake. The trail goes toward the shore of the lake and reaches its outlet marked by the prayers and then descends steeply pass a waterfall to a small lake. The trail finally meets the left bank of Nika Chu River. After sometime, we reach to a large open area where close to the confluence a major tributary flowing from east. We then cross a wooden bridge and walk along mixed forests to reach Maraothang (3620m), which is a wide open area where yak herders camp and our last night camping.

September 26: Maraothang - Nika Chhu Zam (Trek ends)
Distance 20km, Trek time 6 - 7 hours, Descent 970m
The last day of the trek goes gradually downhill through mixed deciduous and bamboo forests. We further descend through forests and pastures connecting to large grassy area overlooking the motor road and Sephu Village (2650m). Our car is waiting here to transfer us to Punakha. Overnight at hotel in Punakha.

September 27: Punakha - Thimphu
In the morning, we visit Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Then drive to Thimphu via Dochula pass. On the way, we stop at Metshina Village and take a 20 - minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to the Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. If we so desire we can receive a blessing from the Lama's wooden phallus! Check into hotel on arrival. Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu.

September 28: Thimphu
After breakfast we visit the King's Memorial Chorten which was built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952 – 1972. We then tour other important sites in Thimphu including; the world's tallest Buddha statue made of bronze and measuring 169 ft., the Changgangkha Monastery and the radio tower, for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong. Next we have a chance to stopover at the Motithang Takin Preserve, a great place to view the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. Following a visit to the Convent we enjoy a relaxing lunch, and then make our way to the Folk Heritage Museum, for a chance to gain more insight into the local culture. On weekends we can visit the Farmers Centenary Market where people from nearby villages come here to sell their farm produce - this offers a great opportunity for photography. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.

September 29: Drive to Paro for departure
After breakfast, we drive to the airport.

September 30: Arrive Home Country




Schedule and Prices

August 30 - September 30, 2014  Arrive Paro 9/1. Depart Paro 9/29.

Land Costs
2013: $13,000.00
Costs based on 4 Trekkers with Alpine Ascents Guide leading

Payments
$1,000.00 deposit, due with application
Balance due 90 days prior to departure.

Land Costs Include
Transportation to and from airport in Paro
Hotels and tent camping in Bhutan (based on double occupancy)
Welcome and farewell dinner
All portage and pack animals
All group camp supplies, such as tents, stoves, etc.
All meals while trekking and during city tours
Park fees and trekking permits
Trekking guides and staff

Land Costs Do Not Include
$25 Wire Transfer Fee (If Applicable)
International round trip airfare USA - Bhutan
Single Room Supplement (Hotels Only)
Personal gear
Excess baggage charges
Personal Items (gifts, etc)
Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks
All expenses incurred in the event of early departure ( evac fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc)
Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Alpine Ascents

We Highly Recommend Trip cancellation insurance


Trek Cancellation/Refund Policy
Note: Alpine Ascents International highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Alpine Ascents International must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
Each deposit, regardless of amount, includes a $200.00 non - refundable registration fee.
Full refunds, less registration fee, will be provided 90 - days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
50% refunds will be provided 60 - 89 days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
No refunds will be provided 59 - days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
All refund requests must be made in writing and be received in our office within the 90 - day period, as stated above.
All balances are due 90 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified.
Participants whose balances are not received by the 90 - day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their place on the expedition.
Note: Alpine Ascents reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible.

Trip Cancellation Insurance
We highly recommend purchasing trip cancellation insurance. Alpine Ascents International offers a plan in conjunction with Travelex. If you are signing up online or over the phone our location number is #47 - 0553. For non - technical trips choose the Travel Select plan. For technical climbs choose the Travel Select Plan and select the Adventurer Upgrade during your check out. Detailed policy information will be sent upon receipt of your completed application.

 

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