The Himalaya Mountains! Probably the most popular reason people go to Tibet is to see the world’s highest and most spectacular mountain range. No trip to Tibet is complete without seeing the Himalaya’s, particularly Mt. Everest. There is something about looking out to the world’s highest peaks that just can’t be described….it needs to be experienced! A misconception is that Everest or other peaks of the Himalaya’s are just right outside of Lhasa and that is not true. The Himalaya’s are still a bit of a journey from Lhasa. In order to get to Base Camp or to get good, close views of the Himalaya’s, you are going to have to go on an organized tour to get there, which is required for all foreigners going to the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Having lived on the Tibetan Plateau for the past 10 years, I have been fortunate enough to travel through large portions of the Tibetan Himalaya’s (as well as the Himalayan regions of Nepal, India and Pakistan). This post will highlight some of my favorite views of the Himalaya’s as well as how to get to them.
The top photo is of Mt. Gang Benchen, which rises to 7295 meters. It is located in the Langtang section of the Himalaya’s about 25 kilometers north of the Nepal border. It lies within Nyalam county in Shigatse prefecture. It is most easily reached by taking the Friendship Highway from Old Tingri towards the Nepal border. About 72 kilometers past Old Tingri, there is an intersection with a road leading west towards Lake Peiku. For the best views, follow that road for about 45 kilometers. The views on a clear day are breathtaking.
There are other excellent close-up views of Himalayan peaks along the dirt road to Lake Peiku. The 2 pictures above are some examples of peaks that can be seen along this route.
Mt. Shisha Pangma, pictured above, is the 14th highest mountain on earth and the highest mountain that is located entirely within Tibet. Shisha Pangma is easy to reach. A good view of the peak can be seen from the Tong La Pass along the Friendship Highway. The Tong La Pass rises to 5150 meters and on a clear day, the views of the mountain are great.
Mt. Gyachung Kang is a relatively unknown mountain despite being the 15th highest peak on earth at 7952 meters. It is sandwiched in with other Himalayan peaks and can be hard to identify if you don’t know where to look. The best view of Gyachung Kang on the Tibet side is from the 5200 meter Pang La Pass that is on the dirt road leading to Everest Base Camp on the North Face. Gyachung Kang can be hard to find, but is located to the right of Everest, just left of Mt. Cho Oyu.
Mt. Cho Oyu is the 6th highest peak on earth at 8201 meters. It lies along the border of Tibet and Nepal. There are 2 places to get a good view of Cho Oyu. The first is from the 5200 meter Pang La Pass, the same place where you can see Gyachung Kang. From the Pang La, Cho Oyu is located just to the right of Gyachung Kang. The other place to get a good view of Cho Oyu is along the back road from Everest Base Camp to Old Tingri. As you will be driving north along this road, you will need to be looking behind you (to the south) for views of Cho Oyu.
Tibet’s grandest peak, Mt. Everest, rises to 8848 meters. Sitting on the border between Tibet and Nepal, the world’s highest peak can be clearly seen from far away. The best views though are from the North Face Base Camp, located about 100 kilometers off of the Friendship Highway. There is no question that the view of the Tibet’s North Face from Base Camp is far better than the view of Everest from the South Face Base Camp in Nepal. The view of Everest from the North Face Base Camp gives you a completely unobstructed view of the mountain. It looks like you could just start climbing right up it! Here are a few other views of Everest from around the base camp area….
Though high season in Tibet is from early June through mid-October, the best times to view the Himalaya’s are from late September/early October through early May. During this time frame, the skies are generally clear and blue allowing excellent views. Other times of the year, mid-May through late September, are usually cloudy and getting good, clear views of the high peaks are rare.
Here are a few more pictures of the Tibetan Himalaya’s:
The 2 photos above were taken along the back road leading from Everest Base Camp to Old Tingri. As I stated earlier, many of these peaks will be behind you as your driver proceeds towards town. You will have to keep a close watch behind you to find these peaks.
Mt. Phurephu rises to 6846 meters and is found along the rough, dirt road leading to Peiku Lake. Along the drive from the Friendship Highway intersection to Peiku Lake, there a dozen or more peaks rising above 6500 meters. It is one of the most scenic Himalayan drives you can take on the Tibet side.
For more information on the Tibetan Himalaya’s or information on traveling in Tibet, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.