To The Base Camp of Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake
Rigorous trekking: 14 days
Chomolhari is Bhutan's deeply venerated guardian peak. It rises on the Tibet-Bhutan border near the major trade route from India into Tibet's Phari Valley. In 1939, from a pass above Phari, F. Spencer Chapman, the mountain's first climber, saw Chomolhari and its companion peak, magnificent Jitchu Drake. "Chomolhari gives a greater impression of sheer height and inaccessibility than any other mountain I know, ''he wrote in Living Dangerously. "It drops in a series of almost vertical rock precipices to the foothills beneath. It is thought by many to be the most beautiful mountain in the whole length of the Himalaya.''
Unlike Chapman--who could only dream of visiting Bhutan, and approached the peak from the north--you'll hike to Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake through Bhutan's little-visited villages, rich valleys, and untroubled forests, with good chances of seeing blue sheep, takin, and a huge variety of bird life, including Himalayan pheasant. We offer this trek route three times a year, once in spring and twice in fall. The spring trek is a botanist's fantasy: rhododendrons, azaleas, and masses of wildflower carpet the high meadows, and pear and apple trees blossom in the valleys. In the fall, rice paddies ripen to a golden brown, and yak herders bring their charges down from high summer pastures.