Snowman Trek I

snowThis is the extension of Laya-Gasa Trek. The trek continues from Laya to Lunana, and further to Gangkar Punsum and Bumthang or down to Sephu near Trongsa, depending on which route we choose. This is a challenging trail and demands trekkers who can camp at and above 5,000 m. Sometimes we will camp on the snow.

Duration: 25 days

Maximum Elevation: 5,320 m

Highest Camp: 5,050 m

Standard: Hard
Best Seasons: Mid-June to Mid-October

Start: Gunyitsawa Village, Paro Valley

Finish: Sephu (Trongsa)

Day 1

Gunyitsawa Village to Sharna Zampa

Time: 40 mins

Trail: 80 m descent

Campsite altitude: 2,850 m

The Royal Bhutan Army at Gunyitsawa checks our trek permit and endorses it. The trek begins here.

Day 2

Sharna Zampa to Thangthangkha (this is a day-long trek)

Time: 7-8 hrs

Distance: 22 km

Trail: 770 m ascent, 10 m descent

Campsite altitude: 3,610 m
Day 3
Thangthangkha to Jangothang

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 19 km

Trail: 480 m ascent

Campsite altitude: 4,080 m

If we arrive early, we will be able to see Mt. Jomolhari. Otherwise, we will have to wait until the following morning. From here, the trek continues upward the Pacchu river valley.
Day 4
Halt at Jangothang
Today, our halt at Jangothang provides plenty of time for splendid views of lakes and snow-capped mountains, including Jomolhari and Jichudrake. If we are lucky, we may spot the blue sheep towards the upper slopes.
Day 5
Jangothang to Lingzhi

Time: 6-7 hrs

Distance: 18 km

Trail: 840 m ascent, 870 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,010 m

Today we climb up and down almost the same altitude. After a short distance from the camp, we climb up steeply for about 90 minutes and then we climb Nyilila Pass which is at 4,870 m.
Day 6
Lingzhi to Chebisa

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 10 km

Trail: 280 m ascent, 410 m descent

Campsite altitude: 3,880 m

Today, shortly after the trek starts, we reach a choeten below Lingzhi Dzong. Here we can choose either to continue trek on the main trail or take a detour.

Day 7
Chebisa to Shomuthang

Time: 6-7 hrs

Distance: 17 km

Trail: 890 m ascent, 540 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,220 m

Today we have to ascend almost three hours from the beginning. We come across a huge pastureland towards Gobula Pass.  Along this route we can see a few yak herders.
Day 8
Shomuthang to Robluthang

Time: 6-7 hrs

Distance: 18 km

Trail: 700 m ascent, 760 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,160 m

Today we climb up the valley to view Kang Bum at 6,526 m. After two hours walk we will reach Jhari La at 4,750 m. From Jhari La we can catch the sight of Sinche La.
Day 9
Robluthang to Limithang

Time: 6-7 hrs

Distance: 19 km

Trail: 850 m ascent, 870 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,140 m

As the trek becomes more adventurous, today we start it with an hour of ascent. After an hour we come across a forest of boulders crossing which may take an hour and a half. The trail then climbs steeply for an hour and finally we reach Sinche La at 5,005 m.
Day 10
Limithang to Laya

Time: 4-5 hrs

Distance: 10 km

Trail: 60 m ascent, 340 m descent

Campsite altitude: 3,840 m

Today, the trail takes us downhill across narrow river valley and densely forested area to the western side of Laya.
Day 11: Rest/Acclimatisation day in Laya
If we have trekked from Paro, we should spend one day here recuperating and preparing for the rest of the hard trek. If we have started from Gasa, we should walk to Laya to acclimatise.
Day 12
Laya to Rhoduphu
Time: 6-8 hrs

Distance: 19 km

Trail: 1,030 m ascent, 750 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,160 m

Following a river, the trail descends to an army camp. After lunch we pass through rhododendron bushes to the camp at Rhoduphu.
Day 13
Rhoduphu to Narethang

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 17 km

Trail: 740 m ascent

Campsite altitude: 4,900 m

Today too, the trail follows the river for about half an hour. Then it gently climbs to an open valley at 4,600 m and beyond to Tsomo La at 4,900 m.
Day 14
Narethang to Tarina  

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 18 km

Trail: 270 m ascent, 1,200 m descent

Campsite altitude: 3,970 m

Today, we will ascend for an hour to Gangla Karchung La at 5,120 m. We will have a spectacular view of mountain ranges from the pass.
Day 15
Tarina to Wache

Time: 6-7 hrs

Distance: 17 km

Trail: 270 m ascent, 330 m descent

Campsite altitude: 3,910 m

The vegetation changes now. We pass through coniferous forest across the upper ridge of Phochhu River. Along the way, we pass through sparkling waterfalls
Day 16
Wache to Lhedi

Time: 6-7 hrs

Distance: 17 km

Trail: 980 m ascent, 1,190 m descent

Campsite altitude: 3,700 m

Today, we pass through juniper and fir forests. Later, we walk through rhododendron bushes until we reach Keche La Pass at 4,650 m from where we can see the surrounding majestic mountains.
Day 17
Lhedi to Thanza

Time: 7-8 hrs

Distance: 17 km

Trail: 450 m ascent

Campsite altitude: 4,150 m

If it is sunny, we will have an enchanting view of Table Mountain at 7100 m. Around mid-day, the trail goes past the small village of Chozo at 4,090 m. The village has a dzong of its own.
Day 18
Rest day at Thanza
From here, the yaks from Laya need to be returned. We arrange new yaks to carry our luggage. When a new set of yaks is being arranged, we can either choose to experience highlanders’ life or climb up the ridge and experience the fascinating views of lakes and mountains.
Day 19
Thanza to Danji

Time: 3-4 hrs

Distance: 8 km

Trail: 80 m ascent

Campsite altitude: 4,230 m

Today the trail passes through an enormous boulder commanding the view of Thanza, Toencha and Choso village and that of the surrounding mountains.
Day 20
Danji to Tshochena

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 12 km

Trails: 980 m ascent, 240 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,970 m

En route to Sephu, the trek climbs to Jaze La at 5,150 m that offers panoramic view of mountains.
Day 21
Tshochena to Jichu Dramo

Time: 4-5 hrs

Distance: 14 km

Trail: 230 m ascent, 150 m descent

Campsite altitude: 5,050 m

Today, as we walk on the bank of dark-green lake and reach a ridge at 5,100 m, we are treated to yet another spectacular view of mountains in all directions.
Day 22
Jichu Dramo to Chukarpo

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 18 km

Trail: 320 m ascent, 730 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,600 m

Today, we walk pass a moraine to Rinchen Zoe La at 5,320 m. Gangkar Punsum and other mountain ranges spread all around in their radiant beauty.
Day 23
Chukarpo to Thampe Lake

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 18 km

Trail: 400 m ascent, 700 m descent

Campsite altitude: 4,300 m

Today, we descend following the river until we reach yak herders’ huts at Gala Pang Chhu at 4,010 m. From here, we climb up sharply to beautiful turquoise lake, Thampe Lake.

Day 24
Thampe Lake to Maurothang

Time: 5 hrs

Distance: 14 km

Trail: 330 m ascent, 1020 m descent

Campsite altitude: 3,610 m

Today’s trail climbs sharply to Thampe La at 4,600 m. This is the last pass on the trek. We may spot some blue sheep in this area. The trail then descends to a sacred lake, Om Tsho.
Day 25
Maurothang to Sephu

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 18 km

Trail: 990 m descent

On the last day of the trek, the yaks give way to horses. The trail follows the Nika Chhu and ends at a large grassy area overlooking the Wangdi-Bumthang highway.