Endurance peak – Chinadaily.com.cn

Gang Rinpoche’s peak turns radiant and golden yellow, basking in the morning sun.
[Photo photo provided to China Daily]

Trekking the 56 kilometer round Gang Rinpoche is no feat for the faint of heart, but the physical and mental challenges are offset by the exhilarating experience and the spectacular views, reports Xing Wen in Ngari, Tibet.

Climbing a mountain is a false challenge. At least, that’s how Fran Lebowitz, the American writer and critic sees it, asserting her claim in the much-loved documentary Pretend It’s a City, in which she portrays the vicissitudes of contemporary urban life – its fashions, its trends. , its fads and fashions.

Lebowitz says she finds that many people these days participate in activities such as mountaineering because they want to challenge themselves.

“A challenge is something you have to do, not something you make up,” says Lebowitz. “You don’t have to climb a mountain.… I find real life quite difficult.”

His opinions seem perfectly logical to me. Even so, I was still eager to give it a try when my friend, Zhang Tianyao, asked me if I wanted to take on the challenge of completing the grueling 56-kilometer hike around Mount Kailash, or Gang Rinpoche in the Ngari prefecture, to the southwest. The Tibet Autonomous Region in China.

At the time, we were discussing how we should spend our vacation leave.

“Do you want to try something exhilarating while on vacation? How about a hike around Gang Rinpoche? ” He asked.

His words reminded me of a movie I watched many years ago. The film, Path of the Soul, traces the pilgrimage of 11 Tibetan villagers from Chamdo to Gang Rinpoche, a mountain that holds a holy position in many religions, including Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. The pilgrims bowed down at every step after embarking on a 2,500 km journey. I was impressed by their natural simplicity, kindness, endurance and perseverance.

At that time, to me, a person who had never set foot in Tibet, the mountain in the remote western hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau seemed like a distant place beyond my reach.

However, Zhang came up with the business in such a relaxed way, it made me feel that the road would be something that we could easily reach and conquer.

I had been feeling quite depressed and restless for quite some time. I assumed, perhaps a little naively, that maybe an epic mountain adventure would just tonic my restless state of mind and provide some inner peace.

“OKAY!” I replied confidently, armed with renewed determination.

With that, the planning for the trip began in earnest.

Ngari prefecture, at an altitude of over 4,500 meters on average, experiences a long and cold winter. Parts of the prefecture, including Mount Gang Rinpoche and its surroundings, were hit by a blizzard before our arrival in late October. Hiking and climbing at high altitudes is difficult already, let alone when the paths are frozen or heavily covered in snow.

Our physical form and endurance would be put to the test, as we would certainly face freezing conditions, lack of oxygen and prolonged exposure to the sun, as well as the specters of possible illness. altitude and exhaustion, among a host of other dangers. , both conceivable and inconceivable.

With this in mind, I carefully prepared my personal gear, which included a pair of hiking poles, a down jacket, a hooded fleece, knitted beanies, woolen gloves and socks, climbing shoes, sunglasses and an outdoor headlamp.

I packed all my gear and flew to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, where I met Zhang.

We still had to travel over 1200 km from Lhasa to Darchen, a small town south of Gang Rinpoche. It is the starting point for many pilgrims who come to tour the sacred mountain.

Such a long journey was undoubtedly tiring, but there is no doubt that the specular views – with snow-capped peaks that seem to pierce the clouds, lakes with shimmering surfaces, streams flowing through desolate landscapes and sand dunes carved by the wind, as well as herds of yaks and sheep alongside free-range horse teams were a feast for the eyes.

As we got closer to Darchen, we saw a peak that, like a majestic snow-capped pyramid, towered over many other mountains. We immediately recognized the iconic natural wonder. It’s Gang Rinpoche. At 6,658 meters, it is the second highest peak in the Gangdise Mountains.

Carol N. Valencia