Cho La Pass from Dzonglha to Dragnag
30.03.2012 - 30.03.2012 10 °C
The weather so far has been reasonably consistent. Overnight it goes down to as low as -20 degrees making transfer in and out of warm sleeping bags a task that needs to be carried out with the utmost speed and efficiency. The mornings always start with bright sun, which quickly chases away the sub-zero temperatures of the night. Above 4800m we have all been wearing two layers, below this altitude it is possible to get away with a tee shirt in the bright sunlight. The afternoons are more of a mixed bag, on most days clouds come up the valleys obscuring the highest peaks, on a couple of occasions this has brought light snow showers, but this is usually after we are safely ensconced in our lodge for the night.
The day for our second pass started out in the normal pattern as above. The sun rose above the mountains quickly chasing away the cold of the night. We started out from Dzonglha and headed up the valley climbing steadily but with a gentle gradient. Just before the pass a rock wall confronted us and it was time to get some hands on rock. It was hot and slow work, the path (if you can call it that) was narrow so there was a lot of waiting while other groups and porters came down from the pass above. Finally after a last steep section we got to the top of the climb and a stunning glacier stretched out in front of us. Time to put on our ‘Yak Tracks’ and then we started out across the icy wastes. You could feel the heat reflecting of the ice and those who hadn’t put on enough sun protection where to suffer for it later. At the end of the glacier there was a short sharp rock climb and we reached the top of the pass.
The descent from the pass was a knee and ankle crunching rock scramble until we reached what we thought was the main valley floor, as usual we were mistaken. The weather by now had done its afternoon change and the clouds were gathering overhead. We crested a slight rise and then a steep sided valley with a gurgling stream dropped away into the distance. At the bottom of that valley was our destination, Dragnag. As we got lower the clouds got greyer and started depositing a dusting of snow, if you didn’t know you were in Nepal you would think you were in a Scottish Glen. The only difference was the occasional Yak appearing out of the gloom but even these could have been mistaken for a highland cow. After an hour our lodge came into site and the second pass had been accomplished.