The tale of Kailash
The steep and strenuous mountain

"Whether a believer or a curious traveler, Kailash is a unique experience for everyone and an encounter with the incredible beauty and power of nature."

A thousand miles away from civilization, in the middle of the Tibetan desert plateau as the mountain crystal stands a solitary 6714-meter high pyramid of rocks and ice. Kailash. That which was for the ancient Greeks Olympus or the Christians of Mount Athos in Sinai it is this mountain for Hindus, Buddhists, followers of Bona, Jainists, and Sikhs. For Hindus, Kailash is the throne of the almighty God Shiva and for Buddhists, it represents a huge natural mandala, the wheel of life. For both religions, it is the origin of tantric forces and the center of the universe. In the shadow of this sacred mountain at an altitude of 4500 meters lies Lake Mansarovar, born from Brahma's thoughts. Even for unbelievers, mountains and lakes are rare gems of this magical land of pure light and expressive colors.

From the Nepalese city of Kathmandu through a narrow valley, or rather a canyon, towards the border with Tibet is led by a very narrow road that is often interspersed with landslides and landslides. Ten kilometers before the Kodari border crossing, the road was literally swept away by monsoon rains, so it is still possible only on foot, with a high risk of constant landslides. We carry personal equipment on our backs and the common equipment for camping and food from the truck is taken over by porters who will earn around 10 kunas in 2 hours of wearing it. The narrow deep canyon of the Bothe Kosi River bridges the "Friendship Bridge" which is also the border crossing between Nepal and the People's Republic of China.

On the Friendship Bridge, Chinese border guards and customs officers thoroughly inspect our visas and personal belongings. Just when you think it’s almost over again follows a new passport check and a joint list of passengers at the next check. In every major Tibetan town, the Chinese army and police are stationed, repeating the described check over and over again, and only then do they raise the ramp from where they can move on to the seemingly endless Tibetan plateaus. On the Chinese side, 4 off-road vehicles and 2 trucks are waiting for us. The journey by off-road vehicles and trucks to Kailash takes 6 days. From the 5200 meters high pass of Lulang La I see thick monsoon clouds that remain stuck in the canyon of Botha Kosi through which we passed to Tibet. Ten kilometers before the Kodari border crossing, the road was literally swept away by monsoon rains, so it is still possible only on foot, with a high risk of constant landslides. 

We finally arrive in Darchen. Religious center on the south side of Kailash. From there begins the Kora, a pilgrimage hike around Mount Kailash. Some Tibetans work their Kora all the way about 35 kilometers along the way. They lie the entire length of the body, rise then step forward for the length of the body, spread their arms, and again lie face down on the ground again. And so for days until they circled around Kailash. Whether a believer or a curious traveler, Kailash is a unique experience for everyone and an encounter with the incredible beauty and power of nature. In the evening Kailash shows us one of a hundred faces. The redness of the setting sun gives it an alien shape and the cloud above the top seems like a huge torch. I watch Tibetans at the doors of their tents who do not take their eyes off the scene from which also makes me tingle.

The second day of hiking is the most critical but also the greatest experience of Kore. It heads early in the morning towards the 5500 meters high Dolma La pass. Most on foot and some, mostly Indians, riding on yaks, Himalayan cattle that are unmatched in universality. Yak uses milk, meat, wool, horns, and hooves, it can carry up to 100 kilograms and most importantly their feces are the only fuel in Tibet. Dried dung is burned in small ovens where it is cooked and heated. The climb is very steep and strenuous and for many, it is a great life temptation. I descend to the other side of the pass next to the beautiful mountain lake of Tukje Chenpo Tso.

The bark is nearing its end. At least that's how it seems. We agree with the Sherpas to camp near the Zutul Puk monastery. Capturing interesting landscapes with Joško Bojić, I am slowly advancing down the valley. Shortly before the monastery we meet some Indians and talk to them without noticing that we missed the place for the camp. It wasn’t until we were left alone after the Indians fell behind that I see how we continued towards Darchenu.

Suddenly our trip turns into a real struggle because going back to the camp we missed seemed pointless, and it was another 3 hours to Darchen. We decided to continue. We reached the first pilgrimage tents in Darchen before dusk. We found accommodation and the next day we all headed back to Nepal together. Again 6 days of driving, Chinese controls, meetings with poor nomads, and finally back to the monsoon that greeted us from the south side of the Himalayas. And in Nepal, despite the monsoon rain, I feel at home, because when I add up the time I spent in this beautiful country, mostly for climbing, then it turns out that after Croatia I lived there the most, almost 3 years.






Story by: Stipe Božić, professional mountaineer and Himalayan climber

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