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Trek: Shangmuju - Konka Monastery

I trekked to the Monastery from the west, starting from Shangmuju village 上木居. The major sceneries on this journey are the Minya Konka mountain range as well as the main peak and glacier at the monastery. The sceneries at the various villages are also commendable. The walking was enjoyable traversing high mountains and some steep slopes.

Walking time: three days. Photos: Click here. Related Destinations : Minya Konka

Access: See Map.

From Jiulong: there is a bus that goes to Kangding every morning at 7am. Board this bus and tell the driver that you want to go to the Ninety-nine Kilometer point (九十九公里). The journey is about two hours and costs 25 RMB.

From Kangding: there is a bus that goes to Jiulong every morning at 7am. This bus will also pass the Ninety-nine Kilometer point (九十九公里).

From the Ninety-nine Kilometer point (九十九公里), there are vans that can be chartered to go to Shangmuju village 上木居. A one way journey costs 150 RMB and takes about 1 ½ hours. There are also motorcycles that can take passengers to the village. A one-way ride should not cost more than 70 RMB and a return ride to Tsemi Pass costs 150 RMB onwards.

Apparently it is possible to ride a motorcycle ALL the way from the Ninety-nine Kilometer point (九十九公里) to Konka Monastery. The dirt road is of very ride-able condition to Upper Tsemi Village. From then on, the road condition gets a little dodgy but still manageable.

Guide: Shangmuju is the last village before ascending the Tsemi Pass 子梅山埡口 (4440M) towards the Monastery. Therefore this is also the place to look for a guide or to hire mules. I paid 130 RMB per day for the services of a guide and a mule for my backpack.

Web Maps: Minya Konka 3D map of view from the Tsemi La , Minya Konka trek map, A detailed trekking map in Chinese, Around Base Camp


Day 1: Jiulong 九龙—→ Shangmuju village 上木居 (3560M) —→ Tsemi Pass 子梅山埡口 (4440M)

The walk to Tsemi Pass is mainly uphill. It takes about four hours, starting from a few zigzags, then straight up. There is vegetation for the most part except the last hour or so. The pass just appeared amidst a few barren mountains covered with snow.

Tsemi Pass is the best place to see the Konka range especially at sunset. On a clear day, the Konka range floating on clouds spread itself majestically for all to see. Tsemi Pass is very exposed with no water sources at all. The wind here is extremely strong- so much so that snow falls horizontally- and very cold. Setting up tent here is not advisable.

When I was there, it was very cloudy and misty, and I did not have a clear view of the mountain range, either at dusk or dawn- despite overnight snow of a couple inches (see picture below).

Accommodation is now available here. Villagers from Shangmuju village 上木居 erects a steady wood-anchored tent, able to accommodate up to 30 people between April and October only. Beddings are also provided and it costs 25 RMB per night per person. Water is transported from the village (hot water costs 30 RMB a flask) and simple food is available.

Day 2: Tsemi Pass 子梅山埡口 (4440M) —→ Upper Tsemi Village 上子梅村 (3380M)—→ Konka Monastery 老貢嘎寺(3665M)

It is all downhill from Tsemi Pass to Upper Tsemi Village. Journey is approximately two hours and parts of the snow-capped Konka range are visible all the time. The trail is mainly on zigzagging dirt tracks and is rather steep at some sections. Upper Tsemi Village is a small village of 10 very friendly Tibetan households.

It is another 15 minutes downhill walk from the village to cross a stream before the trail starts to ascend again for the next one hour through forests. There are a couple of steep gradients along this section. Lots of wild birds are active and seen in this forest including wild mountain chicken. The last section is another half hour of gently sloping walk to the monastery.

The monastery is located right in front of the terminal moraine of a glacier that tumbles down from the main peak of Minya Konka. The monastery itself is like any other Tibetan monasteries in China but it is scenic due to its location. It sits within a narrow valley with snow-capped mountains on three sides. On most mornings, one can enjoy an unimpeded million dollar view of the west face of the main peak of Minya Konka.

Accommodation is available in Upper Tsemi Village at the first Tibetan house as one enters the village from either direction. Ask for Tchimachong or Chonchon (his wife). They charge 10 RMB per night and simple meals can also be had at 10 RMB. Their house is the cleanest and tidiest traditional Tibetan house that I have seen in all my travels in China.

Konka Monastery has a few double rooms for guests. It costs 20 RMB per bed. The beds are simple and clean and beddings are provided. Food such as instant noodles can also be purchased from the monastery. During the Chinese holiday seasons (the three week-long holidays), an entrance fee of 25 RMB need to be paid to enter the grounds of the monastery (note grounds not monastery). During such time, camping within the grounds will costs 10 RMB/tent.

Day 3: Konka Monastery 老貢嘎寺 —→ Upper Tsemi Village 上子梅村 —→ Tsemi Pass 子梅山埡口 —→ Shangmuju village 上木居

The last day is the return back to Shangmuju village. The return journey is about 7 ½ of walking, five hours back to Tsemi Pass and then downhill for the rest to the village. I was unlucky again at Tsemi Pass as the mountains were shrouded in clouds.

Accommodation is not available at Shangmuju village. However one can easily offer to pay and stay at any of the Tibetan households and will not likely to be rejected; I stayed at my guide’s home.

Trek Date: October 2006.
Written by CBP in November 2006.

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