Tibet - Balung ri adventure

Trip Facts

Tour Type: Lodge/Camping
Tour Grade: ▲▲ (?)
Maximum Altitude: 5220 m.
Best Season: October - November March - May

If you are an experienced Trekker and in good physical condition, the mountains of Tibet are the right thing for you. Your efforts- for example while climbing the Balung Ri- will be rewarded with fantastic views towards the Cho Oyu- 8000+m.

Five o'clock in the morning. Absolute darkness. The only sounds are from our kitchen crew. Time to get up. It is minus 16 Celsius, the altitude is 5370m. Snow has fallen over night. When opening the tent, snow enters. It doesn't matter; it is time to dress up, to warm the boots, to have a breakfast and to start. Slowly and always in mind not to consume more oxygen than you can inhale.It is the 17th day of our Tibet tour. From Lhasa via Shigatse and Shegar we travelled to Kharta. During the first days we crossed the 5200m high Doya La. We wanted to know whether everybody of us has the right physical condition and whether some would get the high altitude, sickness. If you want to climb up to 6000m or even above, you have to be top fit. The Balung Ri is an "easy" 7000m high mountain, for what you only need a, but no pick and light gadget. The air is thin; the winds are icy, so carelessness and overestimation can be fatal.

We are ready for the Balung Ri, the climb can start. Step for step through the snow. We are like a caravan and we stop very often for a small but very important drink. Sufficient liquid is a must. Fare away we can see the Cho Oyu, in front of us is the Nagpa La. Since centuries this 5716m high pass is used as a way to Solu Khumbu in Nepal. If Chinese soldiers do not check this pass, it is a popular way for Tibetans to flee in the winter to Nepal. Beside the Nagpa La lays the beautiful Tschobo Raptsang, snow and ice covered. A mountain, "Only" 6000m, but a challenge like the 8201 m high Cho Uyu.

After three hours the altitude meter shows 5800m. We are still all together, but after the next stop some want to descend. When you stop your slowly walk, the body starts to react to the height. Dizziness and nausea are the first symptoms of the high altitude sickness. Everybody has to take this serious. Two days ago, we had to send back one of our Nepalese staff, because he got headache, started vomiting and could hardly stand up alone. After a short break we, the rest of the group, are starting again to climb the mountain. Slowly one foot in front of the other. Small steps only. It is important not to waste any energy, not to start heavy breathing. Our destination is still far away.

Did we reach 6000m now? The Thommen says no, the Casio says yes. None of us has ever crossed 6000m. We take out our prayer flags and fix them at the rocks. It is not only a souvenir. The wind shall blow our wishes over the Himalayas. At this point some more of our group decided to return. We fight against the altitude, crossing 6100m, 6200m. On the ridge we continue up to the beginning of the steep and icy flank of the Balung Ri. At the highest pint of he ridge the GPS measures 6380m- now all of us want to descend. Our body and our mind are full of proud, but high altitude trekking is not child's play. Everybody thinks now about the difficult way back: hours and hours through snow and on nearly impassable "paths". To be on the top is not everything- and some will get problems during the apparently never-ending descent. Now we do not think about this, because we are still in an excellent mood having reached 6380m!


DAY 01: Arrival Kathmandu, hotel
DAY 02: Kathmandu, free day, hotel
DAY 03: Fly to Lhasa, transfer to hotel
DAY 04: Lhasa, Sightseeing: Potala Palace, Norbulinka, Barkhor, hotel.
DAY 05: Lhasa, Sightseeing: Sera, Drepurng, Jokhang monastery, hotel.
DAY 06: Drive to Shigatse 3900m, visit Tashilumpo monastery, hotel
DAY 07: Drive to Shegar 4250m, hotel
DAY 08: Trek to Khrta 3750m, camp
DAY 09: Trek start and camp at camp Tangmoche, 4330m
DAY 10: Trek to Saga, 4750m, camp
DAY 11: Climbing of the Doya Ri 5330, and camp at the river Revi, 4650m, camp
DAY 12: Trek to Rongbuk, 5040m, camp
DAY 13: Trek to Everest Base Camp 5200m, camp
DAY 14: Trek to driver Base Camp of Cho You, 4900m, camp
DAY 15: Trek to Bhalung Ri Base Camp, Camp at Gyablung 5370m, camp
DAY 16: Climbing of the Bhalung Ri and back to Base Camp
DAY 17: Drive to Tingri, 4380m, lodge/camp
DAY 18: Drive to Zhangmu, hotel
DAY 19: Cross the Border and transfer to Kathmandu, hotel
DAY 20: Final Departure

Note: B=breakfast, BB=bed-breakfast, BLD=breakfast-lunch-dinner