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Himalaya

Day 108: Jangothang

Takstang, Bhutan 
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The extraordinary precipice on which Takstang is perched. An ultimate test for any postman.
Michael Palin - HimalayaJust short of 24,000 feet (7315 m), Jomolhari is one of the highest mountains in Bhutan. Seen from our tiny, fragile campsite, it fills the northwestern horizon, an immense hemispherical slab, hung with mighty crusts of snow and ice save where the rock flanks of the mountain, too steep to hold anything, stand out raw and sheer.

Unlike Everest, which kept a majestic distance, Jomolhari looms very close, a presence so powerful and all-pervasive that at times it seems to be growing before our eyes. Unsurprisingly, this is a sacred mountain and no-one has ever stood on its summit.

The far side of Jomolhari is in Tibet and around it wind narrow passes that have long been used for trans-Himalayan trade. Proof of this lies in the half-collapsed dry-stone walls of a castle, built to control this meeting of two valleys. A track continues up beyond our camp and we follow it towards Ngile La, a pass at 15,700 feet (4785 m). Another mighty mountain rises close to us. Jichu Drake, at 22,300 feet (6795 m), is a classic Paramount peak, more shapely than Jomolhari, from which a beautiful glacier trails, covering the rocks in gleaming, blue-tinted ice sheets. A milky-green stream leaks from beneath it. We're above the tree line here, but there are yaks and the odd farm, one of which lives a national character whom Doje is keen for me to meet.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 108: Jangothang
  • Country/sea: Bhutan
  • Place: Jangothang
  • Book page no: 250

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