Snowman Trek II
Duration: 25 days, Max. Elevation: 5,320m
Highest Camp: 5,120m
Best Seasons: Mid June to Mid October
Start: Drukgyel Dzong (Paro)
Finish: Duer Village (Bumthang)
The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek, and leads from Laya further into the 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.
The Lonly Planet describes the Snowman Trek as one of the most difficult treks of the world. Many groups that attempt this tough trek do not actually finish it due to problems with the high altitude or snow blocked passes. The best time for Snowman Trek is summer time–unlike to the other high altitude treks of Bhutan. Still, those who make it will remember this trek as an outstanding, beautiful and maybe as the most rewarding trek of their life. In this version of the Snowman Trek, one has the possibility of spending a day or two at perhaps one of the most beautiful hot springs of the Himalayas.
Day 19: Thanza- Tshorim (eight to nine hours, camp altitude 5,120m). Having chosen the route to Bumthang the trek starts by climbing a ridge with a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. The ridge altitude is 4,500m and it rises gradually up to 4,650m. After lunch, walk upwards towards the left side of the bridge to enjoy the view of snow-capped mountains. You reach the campsite of Tshorim after climbing more ridges.
Day 20: Tshorim – Gangkhar Puensum Base Camp (six to seven hours, camp altitude 4,970m). This is one of the highlights of the trek and the day starts with a short climb to the Tshorim Thso. You walk on the side of the lake enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophu La ranges. The last climb to the Gophu La pass (5,230m) is very short. After the pass descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge to enjoy a great view of Gangkhar Puensum. If interested, one can divert to the left side to climb up the pyramid peak for a better view or you can go down to the base camp nearby Sha Chhu.
Day 21: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp – Geshe Woma (six to seven hours, camp altitude 4,200m)
The trail further follows the Sha Chhu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma.
Day 22: Geshe Woma – Warathang?(eight to nine hours, camp altitude 4,000m)
The path continues following Sha Chhu for two and a half hours until the stiff climb to Saka La begins. Visibility along the Saka La trail is poor so one must see top of the ridge for guidance. After having lunch nearby a yak herders’ camp you climb up to Saka La (4,800m). The path then descends to a couple of lakes and another short ascent is stunning. Scenery once again is beautiful with small lakes and the mountain peaks.
Day 23: Warathang -Duer Tsachu (five hours, camp altitude 3,590m)
A one hour climb leads to Juli La (4,700m). After the pass, you descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. After the bridge a short climb leads to Duer Tsachu. These hot springs, where Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have taken bath, might be the most stunningly beautiful hot springs of the Himalayas. You might want to spend an extra day at Duer Tsachu.
Day 24: Duer Tsachu – Tshochenchen
(eight to nine hours, camp altitude 3,850m). From the hot springs it is a long and steady climb again with great views of mountains in Lunana. You will also come across blue lakes and yak herder huts.
Day 25: Tshochenchen – Duer Village
This is the last day of the trek and your porters change from yaks to horses. The path follows the Chamkhar Chhu, descending gradually with a few climbs in between. The trek ends here when you arrive at Duer village. From here you drive to Jakar (Bumthang).