Holy mountain hopping (Yubeng) 

Coming from the sacred mountain area, I visited the holy Meili snow mountains (梅里雪山) in Déqin (Déqen, Dechen, 德钦) Northern Yunnan. This place is close to Tibet, Sichuan and not too far from Myanmar. 

At 6740m, it’s Yunnan Province’s highest peak and straddles the Yunnan-Tibet boarder. The city Déqin is the last stop before climbing the mountains, so it’s important to pack up with enough food and water before leaving the city. The place is so isolated,  that it was never really controlled by anyone until the PLA (people’s liberation army) arrived in force in 1957.

More than 80% of locals are Tibetans, though a dozen other minorities also live here, including one of the few settlements of non-Hui Muslims in China.

My plan was the following:

So I started at Feilaisi (飞来寺),  a temple at the outer mountain area. 

There I met my first companion: Yanping, who had roughly the same plan as me, so we set up a team. In the hostel, we met Dongdong, another single traveler that also had roughly the same plan. 

We had dinner with the nice hostel owner near the Feilaisi temple. 

We 3 were students (Dongdong just did her graduation trip) and the next day we decided to start the tiring hike to Yubeng 雨崩, a mysterious little village, split into upper and down Yubeng.

It took many hours and a very steep hike to get to Yubeng. 

Here you can see Yanping and me on the hike up. 

In the late afternoon, we arrived in Yubeng. On the left you can see down Yubeng, on the right you can see upper Yubeng. We stayed in upper Yubeng. 

On the way, we met several other people who were on the same route as us and as we finally arrived in upper Yubeng, we were a group of about 8 travelers. 

We had a wonderful dinner there. Everything is so tasty after a good hike.

The hostel owner was super nice and absolutely happy to host a foreigner who can speak some Chinese, so he treated me like a king. 
When you’re in Yubeng (3200m), you have at least 3 choices for hiking:

  • 神湖 Lake of God (4700m)
  • 冰湖 Glacial Lake (3864m)
  • 神瀑 Yubeng waterfall (3657m)

All 3 choices are worth seeing, the best is propably the 冰湖 Glacial Lake. We started our expedition to the Glacial lake the next morning. 

The mountain Kawa Karpo is absolutely holy in the Tibetan culture. It has never been climbed due to its holiness and also due the high difficulty of climbing it. Many people already lost their lifes on that mountain. That’s why nowadays you’ll “just” walk around the Kawa Karpo, not try to get on top of it. 

As you get closer to the holy mountain you see several signs that make you realize how important it is for the locals. 

Please read the description of the sign:

The closer you get, the more you feel an atmosphere, which is hard to describe. Even for nonbelievers, it’s a great experience. 

We got closer to Kawa Karpo and you could already see the glacier. Though we never had the chance to see the top of the Kawa Karpo, since it was always cloudy. August isn’t the best time to travel, better would be June or July, then you might have chance to see the summit. 

From that viewpoint it wasn’t far to the Glacial Lake anymore. 

 You can see the glacier and even walk on it. 

The next day, I went to the Lake of God. I started from the down Yubeng. The hike up this lake is super hard, about 15km uphill and 15km downhill. I went alone, because no one wanted to go with me. The way was beautiful, yet steep.

I wasn’t very lucky because when I reached the Lake of God, it started to rain heavily and the scenery wasn’t as colorful as described anymore. Anyway, I took some pictures to proof that I was there and the I was fighting my way down. 

Fighting against thin air, steepness and headaches from the high altitude. That hike was the most exhausting thing I did during my 13 weeks adventure and it was worth the pain.

However, the after-rain scenery was just beautiful! 

On my way back, I was lucky enough to see through the clouds and see Yubeng, the village where I was staying:

During the whole time of my stay in Yubeng, we didn’t have electricity. My powerbank was my best friend during that time and a cold shower is better than no shower after a long hike. Obviously I was the only one who thought like this, since I was the “crazy foreigner” who is insane enough to take an ice cold shower. No one else took a shower during these days, so the guy coming from the Lake of God became a legend himself! 

The last day, we went back to civilization. The route was nice, presenting the wide diversity of Yunnan: mountains, red rivers, blue rivers, ethnic minorities and super fresh air (Yes, we’re in China so we appreciate that). 

Back in civilization, I enjoyed a Yak meat hot pot with one of my companions! 

My next stop was the Lugu Lake, a lake with a super interesting ethnic minority living at its shores. Don’t miss it, stay tuned! 

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