Snowman Trek II

The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek, and leads from Laya into 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 Lonely Planet describes the Snowman Trek as one of the most difficult treks of the worldThe best time for Snowman Trek is summer – unlike many other high altitude treks of Bhutan.  Many groups that attempt this tough trek do not finish due to problems with the high altitude or snow blocked passes.  However, those who make it will remember this trek as an outstanding, beautiful and as one of 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.

Duration: 25 days, Max. Elevation: 5,320m

Highest Camp: 5,120m
Standard: Hard
Best Seasons: Mid June to Mid October
Start: Gunitsawa Village, Paro Valley

Finish: Duer Village, Bumthang

Day 1: Gunitsawa Village – Sharna Zampa

40mins, 80 m descent, camp altitude 2,850 m. This trek begins at Gunitsawa Village were you pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.

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Day 2: Sharna Zampa - Thangthangkha

Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours,  770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will b...

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Day 3: Thangthangkha – Jangothang

Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m. If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and sc...

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Day 4: Jangothang Halt

The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimati...

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Day 5: Jangothang – Lingshi

Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m. This is one of the longest days of the trek.  A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. While on the cl...

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Day 6: Lingshi – Chebisa

Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 m. Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a detour up ...

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Day 7: Chebisa – Shomuthang

Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m. The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot l...

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Day 8: Shomuthang – Robluthang

Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m. You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours of climbing you will reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first glimpse of Sinche La, the pass you wil...

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Day 9: Robluthang – Limithang

Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m. The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another 1.5 hours through a boulder field.  It is then a 1 hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5,005m) – the final and high...

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Day 11: Rest / Acclimatisation day in Laya

If you have trekked from Paro Valley you should spend a day recuperating from the trek to Laya and preparing yourself for the rest of this challenging but spectacular trek. If you have started from Gasa (Punakha) you should also walk up to Laya to acclimatize, and not just stay at the trail junct...

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Day 12: Laya – Rhoduphu

Distance 19km, six to eight hours, 1,030m ascent, 750m descent, camp altitude 4,160m. From Laya we descend to an army camp and continue following the river till the turn off point to Rhoduphu. After lunch the climb continues through rhododendron bushes till you reach the camp at Roduphu just...

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Day 13: Rhodophu – Narethang

Distance 17km, five to six hours, 740m ascent, camp altitude 4,900m.   After following the river for about half an hour you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900m). Tsomo La offers a superb view of Lunana, Mount Jomolhari and Jichu Dra...

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Day 14: Narethang – Tarina

Distance 18km, five to six hours, 270m ascent, 1,200m descent, camp altitude 3,970m.   From the camp you will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5,120m). The view from the pass is breathtaking and the whole range of mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7,100m), Tsenda Kang and Teri...

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Day 15: Tarina – Woche

Distance 17km, six to seven hours, 270m ascent, 330m descent, camp altitude 3,910m.   The walk leads down through conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu, passing some impressive waterfalls. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche, a settlement of a few houses...

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Day 16: Woche - Lhedi

Distance 17km, six to seven hours, 980m ascent, 1,190m descent, camp altitude 3,700m.   The trek starts through juniper and fir forests, and further ahead, through rhododendron bushes. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,650m) where one can have the great view of surrounding mountains again. After t...

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Day 17: Lhedi - Thanza

Distance 17km, seven to eight hours, 450m ascent, camp altitude 4,150m.   In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100m).  Around lunchtime you will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090m) which has a dzong still in use. Reaching Thanza again you will have a great vie...

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Day 18: Rest day at Thanza

In Thanza walk around and experience some village life or climb up the ridge for fascinating views of lakes and mountains. But as it takes time to arrange new yaks (the yaks from Laya will not go further than Thanza) you might have to spend one day at Thanza anyway.

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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 o...

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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...

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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.

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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 clim...

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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...

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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.

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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).

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