Snowman Trek ( 25 Days)
The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek, and leads from Laya into high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. It takes tough and enduring trekkers into the Lunana region and further on to Gangkhar Puensum and Bumthang or down to Sephu in Trongsa district, depending on which route you choose. The Snowman trek leads through the most remote areas up to very high altitudes. Trekkers have to camp in altitudes above 5,000m more than once, and depending on the seasonal temperatures, the camps are sometimes on snow.
Duration: 25 days, Max. Elevation: 5,320m
Highest Camp: 5,050m
Best Seasons: Mid June to Mid October
Start: Gunitsawa Village, Paro Valley
Finish: Sephu (Trongsa)
Day 1 Gunitsawa Village – Sharna Zampa
40mins, 80 m descent, camp altitude 2,850 m. This trek begins at Gunitsawa Village were you pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.
Day 2 Sharna Zampa – Thangthangkha
Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow.
Day 3 Thangthangkha – Jangothang
Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m. If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow.
Day 4 Jangothang Halt
The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley.
Day 5 Jangothang – Lingshi
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m. This is one of the longest days of the trek. A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m.
Day 6 Lingshi – Chebisa
Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 m. Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong.
Day 7 Chebisa – Shomuthang
Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m. The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks.
Day 8 Shomuthang – Robluthang
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m. You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours of climbing you will reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first glimpse of Sinche La.
Day 9 Robluthang – Limithang
Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m. The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another 1.5 hours through a boulder field. It is then a 1 hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5,005m).
Day 10 Rest / Acclimatisation day in Laya
If you have trekked from Paro Valley you should spend a day recuperating from the trek to Laya and preparing yourself for the rest of this challenging but spectacular trek. If you have started from Gasa (Punakha) you should also walk up to Laya to acclimatize, and not just stay at the trail junction.
Day 11 Laya – Rhoduphu
Distance 19km, six to eight hours, 1,030m ascent, 750m descent, camp altitude 4,160m. From Laya we descend to an army camp and continue following the river till the turn off point to Rhoduphu. After lunch the climb continues through rhododendron bushes till you reach the camp at Roduphu.
Day 12 Rhodophu – Narethang
Distance 17km, five to six hours, 740m ascent, camp altitude 4,900m. After following the river for about half an hour you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900m). Tsomo La offers a superb view of Lunana, Mount Jomolhari.
Day 13 Narethang – Tarina
Distance 18km, five to six hours, 270m ascent, 1,200m descent, camp altitude 3,970m. From the camp you will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5,120m). The view from the pass is breathtaking and the whole range of mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7,100m).
Day 14 Tarina – Woche
Distance 17km, six to seven hours, 270m ascent, 330m descent, camp altitude 3,910m. The walk leads down through conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu, passing some impressive waterfalls.
Day 15 Woche – Lhedi
Distance 17km, six to seven hours, 980m ascent, 1,190m descent, camp altitude 3,700m. The trek starts through juniper and fir forests, and further ahead, through rhododendron bushes. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,650m) where one can have the great view of surrounding mountains again.
Day 16 Lhedi – Thanza
Distance 17km, seven to eight hours, 450m ascent, camp altitude 4,150m. In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100m). Around lunchtime you will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090m) which has a dzong still in use.
Day 17 Rest day at Thanza
In Thanza walk around and experience some village life or climb up the ridge for fascinating views of lakes and mountains. But as it takes time to arrange new yaks (the yaks from Laya will not go further than Thanza) you might have to spend one day at Thanza anyway.
Day 18 Thanza – Danji
Distance 8km, three to four hours, 80m ascent, camp altitude 4,230m. From Thoencha, the trail climbs up to a large boulder from where you will have excellent views of Thanza, Toencha and Choso village and the surrounding mountains.
Day 19 Danji – Tshochena
Distance 12km, five to six hours, 980m ascent, 240m descent, camp altitude 4,970m. Having chosen the route to Sephu, the trek crosses the creek and after a long climb, you will reach Jaze La (5,150m) with spectacular panoramic mountain views .
Day 20 Tshochena – Jichu Dramo
Distance 14km, four to five hours, 230m ascent, 150m descent, camp altitude 5,050m. You follow the bank of the blue green lake before arriving at a ridge at 5,100m, where there is another spectacular view in all directions.
Day 21 Jichu Dramo – Chukarpo
Distance 18km, five to six hours, 320m ascent, 730m descent, camp altitude 4,600m. Right after leaving the camp you will climb through a moraine to Rinchen Zoe La (5,320m).
Day 22 Chukarpo – Thampe Tsho
Distance 18km, five to six hours, 400m ascent, 700m descent, camp altitude 4,300m. The descent continues along the river till you reach the yak herder huts at Gala Pang Chhu (4010m).
Day 23 Thampe Tsho – Maurothang
Distance 14km, five hours, 330m ascent, 1020m descent, camp altitude 3,610m. From the lake you climb steeply to the last pass on your trek, the Thampe La (4,600m) with a good chance to spot some blue sheep on the way. Then the path descends to the sacred lake Om Thso.
Day 24 Maurothang – Sephu
Distance 18km, five to six hours, 990m descent. On the last day of this extraordinary trek your porters will have to change from yaks to horses as the yaks will not be willing to go further down.