On the west side of Minya Konka (Tibetan name, Gongga Mt. in Chinese) is an alpine wonderland of peaks and spires that stand on guard around their mother (Gongga Mt. – 7556m). The Minya range has up to 20 peaks that reach 6000m or higher. Their lush valleys, snow peaks, alpine lakes and rivers create a veritable playground for trekking in Tibet (and yaks too). No special permits are required for visitors to the Tibetan areas of Sichuan, nor for climbing anything under 6000m.
This alpine area appeals to both mountaineers and casual trekkers. Extravagant Yak specializes in hosting the latter. In August, we took three adults and five kids (aged 13 to 17) on our 6-day-65-km through trek on the west side of Mt. Gongga.
Day 2: River crossing
We arranged a 30min shuttle from Kangding to the trailhead on day one and began our trek at 3200m. Over the next three days we slowly gained elevation until we camped on night three at 4,350m in preparation for crossing the Riwuqie pass (4,950m) on day four. The attention to acclimatization paid big dividends as everyone felt comfortable on the big push to the top of the pass, including the two 13 year olds in the group who ended up waiting for the rest of the group more often than not!
Day 3: Camping at Upper Riwuqie (4350m)
On this trek we arrange horses to carry the heaviest of the supplies: food and tents. Trekkers are free then to just carry their personal gear. At high elevation, the amount of distance you can cover per day is hugely different than what you can accomplish at lower elevations. On Day 6, the trek finished with a huge sense of accomplishment. We were in Zemei village by lunchtime and were in time for our shuttle back to Kangding that evening.
Day 4: Descending through Moxi Gou Valley
Day 4: From the top of Riwuqie Pass (4950m)