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Snow Leopard Country

The Third Pass - Renjo La from Gokyo to Lungden

overcast 8 °C

I can honestly say I’m not sorry to leave Gokyo, the lodge wasn’t the best by any measure and the prospect of lower altitudes and slightly warmer nights is very attractive. Our destination today is the small summer settlement of Lungden which until recently had just been used for Yak farming.

In our way stands the third and last of our ‘High Passes’ – Renjo La. It will be good to get this last hurdle out of the way and then everything will in theory be downhill, although that is never exactly the case in Nepal.

Another early start sees us climbing past the frozen Gokyo Lake with a gradual gradient that was welcome given the exertions of previous days. This brief rest bite was not to last however as a rock face loomed ahead of us and Sallis pointed out our way ahead which seemed a long long way up. Snow had fallen in the preceding days and much of the path was covered. Only a few tracks were visible demonstrating how quiet this area is in comparison with some of the more well-worn Everest trails. Two hours of climbing brought us to the last few switchbacks and the final steps to the top.

The other side of the pass is famous for being Snow Leopard country and with great anticipation we peered down to the rocky landscape below. In reality Snow Leopards are about as rare as Yetis, even Sallis has only seen one in all the trips he has completed. Even though we kept our eyes peeled all the way down we didn’t see anything that remotely looked like a cat of any proportion.
The change in landscape however was quite dramatic, from a rocky and barren Gokyo, this side was more grassy but with occasional flat expanses of sand. We were joking that all we needed was a deckchair and we could imagine we were on Blackpool beach. It was a very long walk down but with a gentle gradient that was more kind to the ankles than some of the bone crunching descents of recent days.

Lungden appeared in the distance three lodges and a handful of Yak farmer’s homesteads, although it appeared extremely remote it represented our first step back to civilisation. The lodge was basic but comfortable with a Gok Wan lookalike running the establishment. No one else had come over Renjo pass that day although there was a few in Lungden who were going to attempt early the following morning. They were full of questions and like seasoned veterans we gave them our cumulative knowledge of the last three weeks and emphasising the tough bits.

Posted by DJBen 04:48 Archived in Nepal

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