Snowman Trek II

Laya campThis 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 camp on the snow.
The Lonely Planet describes the Snowman Trek as “one of the most difficult treks of the world”. The best time for Snowman Trek is summer unlike many other high altitude treks of Bhutan. Many who attempt this trek do not complete it owing to problems related to high altitude or snow-bound passes. However, those who complete it take back the most memorable memories.
On Snowman Trek II, we spend a day or two at one of the most beautiful hot springs in Bhutan, perhaps one of the best across the Himalayas.
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: Dur Village, Bumthang
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 ascent almost three hours from the beginning. We then 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, we 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 the trek 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: 1,030m 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 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 will 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 7,100 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 will arrange new yaks to carry our luggage. When a new set of yaks is being arranged, we can either choose to experience highlanders’ life at the campsite or climb up the ridge and experience the fascinating views of lakes and mountains.
Day 19
Thanza to Tshorim

Time: 8-9 hrs
Camp altitude: 5,120 m
As we chose to trail to Bumthang instead of Sephu, today’s trail starts by ascending a ridge which is 4,500 m. This ridge provides a beautiful view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley. The ridge ascends to 4,650 m.
Day 20
Tshorim to Gangkar Punsum Base Camp

Time: 6-7 hrs
Campsite altitude: 4,970 m
Today we start with a short ascend to Tshorim Tsho Lake. From the lakeside, we enjoy a panoramic view of Gophu La ranges. Gophu La Pass at 5,230 m is a short walk from this lake.
Day 21
Gangkar Punsum Base Camp to Geshe Woma

Time: 6-7 hrs
Campsite altitude: 4,200 m
Following the Sha Chhu, the trail today descends to Geshe Woma.
Day 22
Geshe Woma to Warathang

Time: 8-9 hrs
Campsite altitude: 4,000 m
Today, we continue following Sha Chhu for two and a half hours before we climb sharply to Saka La. The visibility along the Saka La path is poor.
Day 23
Warathang to Dur Tshachu

Time: 5 hrs
Campsite altitude: 3,590 m
Today, after we climb an hour from the camp, we reach Juli La at 4,700 m. From here we descend to a riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and coniferous forests. After crossing the bridge over a river, a short climb leads to Dur Tshachu hot spring.
Day 24
Dur Tshachu to Tshochenchen

Time: 8-9 hrs
Campsite altitude: 3,850 m

Today, from the hot spring, there is a steady and long climb. On the way, we can enjoy a beautiful view of mountains in Lunana. We also pass through lakes and huts of the yak herders.
Day 25
Tshochenchen to Dur Village
Today is our last day of the trek. Our ponies give way to yaks. We will gradually descend following Chamkhar Chhu River with few climbs in between. When we arrive at Dur village, the trek ends. From here, we drive to Jakar, Bumthang.