Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Minya Konka (chin. Gongga Shan) and the Konka Gompa

Minya Konka is Tibetan and means “Snow Mountain of the Minyak Region”. He is the sacred mountain of Minyak which, in ancient times, was a huge and powerful kingdom.

The Minya Konka Range is a division line between the hilly grassland of the Tibetan High Plateau and
the country of humid narrow gorges which spread along the Sichuan Basin. Therefore, this mountain range has two completely different faces: the east side with humid and high biodiversity forests (see also the Mt. Edgar section of this BLOG) and the dry and grassy west side with Khampa Tibetan population.

This year (2009) is the year of the Ox in the Chinese and Tibetan Zodiac, and therefore it is the birth year of Minya Konka who belongs to Ox, too. This is why a lot of (not only local) Tibetans make a pilgrimage around this mountain in this year. Alex and I did so, too.

Generally, you have to hike clock wise and thus the beginning of this trek is at the south end of this magnificent mountain range. The hike takes about two hours from the street and firstly leads through almost flat shrubbery land to the Bawang Lake.

In winter months this lake is almost dry and looks like a desert due to the alluvial sand. In summer it changes into a beautiful lake filled with clear glacier water.

Ten minutes before we reached the lake we got a grandiose glimpse on the most southern peaks of the mountain range:

Mt. Tai Shan, Mt. Sanlian Feng and Mt. Jinyin (right hand side, not visible on this photograph)

The hike stretches for another couple of hours when we finally arrived at Tsemed Village (chin. Zimei Cun) our destination of today. Only a handful huge and massive stone houses form this little village opposite the river junction where the milky glacier water pours down from Minya Konka’s west side.

Tsemet Village

Local people are very proud of their birds, especially game birds which tamely stroll around through the bushes. They protect them thoroughly and also forbid other people to hunt.

Blood Pheasant

White eared Pheasant

Himalayan Griffon

Blue-fronted Redstart

From the village it is a 2.5 h uphill hike to the Konka Gompa – The monastery at the foot of Minya Konka.

Here we had excellent view on the majestic peak, his surrounding satellite peaks and the huge glaciers on both sides (NW, SW).

This is a virtual image from Google Earth with the position of the sun during the solar eclipse, which will take place in July 2009. (Smart reminder: Google Earth always shows blue sky :-)
If you are interested in a trekking tour around Minya Konka and particularly for the solar eclipse please write us: wstourix@wstourix.com or cailantao@yahoo.com.cn

Seen from the valley bottom the moraine seems huge and high.
But standing on it, you feel very close:

View from the moraine

South Flank Glaciers

Unnamed peak (6418m) SW

Konka Monastery and Tsemed Pass

If you are turning your head westwards you can see the Gompa and the Tsemed Pass (red arrow) over which you can reach to the main road from Kangding to Jiulong

Here a view over the Mouxi Valley onto the Mugaling Mountain Range.

Standing on Tsemed Pass (4534m) you have a great view on the whole mountain range

This is another impressive peak in the north of Minya Konka: Mt. Dadomain (6380m).
The pilgrimage leads northwards through the Mouxi Valley and passes along this mountain, before it goes up the Panpan Pass or optional the much higher Riuchihania Pass. On the other side of the pass is Kangding where you finally reach after another three days hiking.