Saturday, April 23, 2005

Over the Djesi La [加则拉] to Kangding

Djesi La in snow, originally uploaded by mutikonka1.

After his first tantalising glimpse of the Minya Konka range, Joseph Rock and his entourage made their way towards Kangding [then known as Tatsienlu] by crossing the 16,300 foot high Djesi La [加则拉]. On his way he made several more observations of Minya Konka from different vantage points.

The scenery was superb. Indeed words fail to describe this marvelous panorama...", he wrote.

The Djesi Pass was deep in snow and his mules and horses floundered up to their bellies. But the yaks slid through the deep drifts - seeming to almost enjoy the situation.

"These yaks and their nomad owners seem to be kindred spirits. They behold the same dreary landscape, bare hills and grassy valleys; endure long winters and short summers with no spring or autumn to speak of. Ignorant of the outside world, these [nomad] people seem entirely contented with their hard lot. They are born, live and die not only in the same skin, but one might say, in the same clothes, with those insect associates from which a Tibetan is never free. The minute a nomad enters a room the air smells of yak butter, sour milk and yak dung smoke, to say nothing of the frangrance peculiar to the unwashed Tibetan himself."

From near the Djesi La Rock made further obervations of the huge peak of Minya Konka. At some point he calculated that it was higher than Mount Everest, although he kept this sensational information to himself until he returned to inland China, so that news would not be leaked out in advance. Of course, when the National Geographic Society received his telegram on this they were highly sceptical, and in time the true height of the mountain proved to be some thousand metres lower than Everest. Rock was extremely embarrased about this mistake, and always avoided talking about it. How this careful, scholarly man made such a huge error in estimating the height of Minya Konka has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Perhaps he was less familiar with the techniques of the surveyor than he was of the plant collector.

On his way to Kangding Rock observed many of the subsidiary peaks such as Reddomain, Daddomain and Chiburongi, which were over 20,000 feet in height. He named one peak Mt Grosvenor after the president of the National Geographic Society.

He then travelled on to Tatsienlu, where he rested and refitted for a few weeks while staying with the missionaries who were then residentas prt of the China Inland Missions. For an update on the modern Christians of Kangding, see my 9th of January posts

Kangding gateThe north gate of old Tatsienlu [Kangding]

Djesi pass in cloud
Djesi Pass in cloud.

Mt Grosvenor

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