Monday, March 24, 2014

Staying with the monks at Gongga Shan monastery

With the monks at the Gongga Shan monastery

After a very cold and miserable day at the monastery, the monks eventually relented and let us sit near their fire for a couple of hours. We spent a bit of the evening trying to thaw out before they gave us the boot. Vowed there and ten to get out as soon as possible! IN this picture you can see one of the female Buddhist nuns.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My jinxed visit to Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

In October 2013 I tried to repeat my Gongga Shan trek of 1996. I trekked back to the monastery from the Yulongxi valley via the Yulongxi Yakou (pass). Unfortunately this time the weather was terrible. It started bad and just got worse. On the day we arrived it was misty and raining and very cold. Over the next two days the snow started and got heavier. We didn't get any view of the mountain or even of the surrounding valley and glacier. The whole trip seemed to have been jinxed -  I must have upset the mountain gods. Here's a pic of our long suffering horses (mules?) having a feed just after we arrived at the monastery.

Mules at Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

This guyd had brought a group of Chinese trekkers in on day one. They only stayed a couple of hours and then buggered off back down to Tsemi because of the poor weather - can't say I blame them!

Gongga Shan monastery from above, Oct 2013

This was about as clear as it ever got!

Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013 - Rolleiflex pic

Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

Monika passing the time at Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

It was boring at the monastery after the first day. For hours on end we would sit in the room trying to keep warm by sitting in sleeping bags and waiting until the next meal from our meagre supply of food (thank goodness we brought stuff to eat - nothing at the monastery whatsoever). This is Monika from Poland, who did the trip at the same time as me - she had quite bad altitude sickness. You can see the cooker I brought with me on the shelf. The room was draughty and freezing cold.

Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

A very bleak Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

A very bleak Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

Arriving at Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

Arriving at the monastery, our guide does a few prostrations at the shrine

A very bleak Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gongga Shan in Oct 2013

Had a very dull two day stay here at the monastery! There's only so much you can see and do at this place after the first few hours of looking about the rooms. The cloud was thick and there was absolutely nothing to do from waking up (early - it was chillingly cold and damp) to going to sleep early. It was too cold to just sit about, and yet there was nowhere to go in the fog - too easy to get lost. I tried walking up on to the ridge above the monastery but turned back after an hour, fearful that I would lose my way in the thick fog and increasingly heavy snow covering my tracks. This was no longer the isolated, quaint monastery that I had visited in 1996. The monks were bored of dealing with hordes of trekkers and were not interested in talking to us once they had collected the accomodation fee and park fee. They wouldn't even let us sit near their fire to get warm - a real insult by Tibetan standards!

Gongga Shan monastery, by Rolleiflex

Arriving at Gongga Shan monastery, Oct 2013

Gongga Shan monastery in the rain

Gongga Si as seen on out arrival in October 2013, by Rolleiflex

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Buchu river valley, en route to Gongga Shan

After a very long and knee-pounding descent from the Yulong Xi pass, we finally arrived at the Buchu river and crossed at this bridge - then it was a long slog along the river gradually ascending to a shoulder a few hours away where we met the track from Tsemi, turned left and went up to the Gongga monastery. When we came back this way three days later the whole landscape was under snow (see earlier photos).

The "Eco-Hut" in the Buchu Valley, Oct 2013

The "Eco-Hut" in the Buchu Valley, Oct 2013

After a loooong descent from the Yulongxi Pass nto the Buchu valley we came to this hut, which was said to have a great view of Gongga Shan in clear weather. It was described as an 'eco-hut' was was actually just a bare shell - colder in than out!

Monday, March 10, 2014

贡嘎山 玉龙西 Gongga Shan, Yulongxi, October 2013

This is a picture that I took with my Rolleiflex 3.5F using slide film (Fuji Portra I think), at Yulongxi, before setting out on the Gongga Shan trek. This is the 'guesthouse' where we stayed - in reality it was just a farmhouse, next to some hot springs. We were driven over in a small van from Kangding by a 17 year old kid, who was the son of the farmer. This is the grandtaher of the family, who apears to be a part time monk.

贡嘎山 玉龙西 Gongga Shan, Yulongxi

贡嘎山 玉龙西 Gongga Shan, Yulongxi

Monday, March 03, 2014