"With its ecological wholeness, stark beauty, and sense of unfettered freedom, it is a place where mind and body can travel, where one's soul can dance. It is the essence of the Chang Tang."
Trip report - part one:
A small travelupdate.
I am right now in a town called Gerze in northern Tibet, about to start an
unsupported south-north solo crossing of Tibets Chang Tang, a 1000 kilometer
biketrip through a vast high-altitude environment mainly situated above 5000
meters. This area, more than 600.000 km2, is one of the least explored places
on earth due to its remoteness and the harsh living conditions. Even the
sturdy Tibetan nomads only live in the southern rim of the area where
temperatures occasionally drop below - 40 C during wintertime.
There have been two unsupported expedition crossings of Tibets Chang Tang
before, the first was done by two German pioneers, Frank Kauper and Steffan
第一次是两位德国探索先锋，Frank Kauper 和 Steffan Simmerer ，
Simmerer who crossed central Chang Tang in 1997 in 51 days where they didn't
see people for 35 days. They climbed 6400+ Zangser Kangri in the middle of
Chang Tang as well. The second was in 2003 when Swedish Janne Corax and
第二次是在2003年，两个瑞典人Janne Corax 和Nadine Saulnier
Nadine Saulnier in 47 days crossed eastern Chang Tang without seeing people
for 37 days. National Geographic Channel has broadcasted a documentary
called "Too tired" on the last crossing.
[ 本帖最后由 好风长吟 于 2008-10-23 16:46 编辑 ]
I have spend four days here in town, resting a bit after cycling more than
1200 kilomteres to here from Lhasa as warm-up. For the forthcoming challenge
I have here in town
bought more than 35 kg. of food, 13 kg of instant noodles, 9 kg of
milkpowder, 2,5 kg. of Dove chocolate, 7,5 kg. Chinese moon festival cakes,
2,5 kg. candie, ect... To this I have to add between 6 and 7 L of gasoline
for cooking and for melting ice during the later part of the trip when
temperatures begin to plunge below - 30 C at night. Yesterday, I did a 25
kilometers recoinnance bike trip north of town and it seems like the
surroundings right now are rather dry which means I might have to start out
with 10 L of water as well.
I also burden my poor bike with everything nessary for crossing through Chang
Tang safely. I have a - 40 C sleeping bag, high altitude mountaineering tent,
down jacket, two stoves (one extra if the first fails), satellite phone, 2 gb
flash mp3 player against solitude, ice axe, ski gogles, etc. etc...
If things go well and I get unnoticed through the settlements north of Gerze
and enter the nature preserve without being caught by the Chang Tang nature
patrol service men guarding the southern area, I hope I have the time, food
and spirit to climb a
relatively easy unclimbed 6100+ meters mountain some 14 days from here. If
things really turns out well, I also hope to be able to climb a 6300+ heavy
glaciered mountain massive on the border between the xinjiang and Xizang
(Tibet) province before crossing the Arka Tagh range and the altun Shan range
to a small settlement called Tura north of Mt. Ulugh Mustagh From here I
will probably try to hitchhike to a town called Qiemo on the southern route
in the Taklamakan desert.
[ 本帖最后由 好风长吟 于 2008-8-26 23:26 编辑 ]
There will be trucktrails the first 150-200 kilometers north of gerze, then
starts the off-road cycling where the ground most places will be to soft for
cycling forcing me to push and drag the bike. This minimise
distance travelled to between 20-25 kilometers per day accoding to my
experience during my last two bike trips in Chang Tang. There are wolf and
bears in the area, but they are normally scared of people. If this also is
the case with the Yeti, I don't know...
The journey to here has taken longer than expected. From Denmark I flew to
Hong Kong where I ended up staying unexpected 12 days waiting for a front
rack for my bicycle which a company failed to deliver to me in Denmark before
departure which they had promised. The reason for travelling over Hong Kong
was to get a 6 months Chinese business visa which I got in 4 hours. I liked
staying in Hong Kong because I love
its 'Blade Runner' atmosphere, the ethnic and cultural mixture - e.g. in
central Kowlon lays a mosk which got a banner for McDonald on a sidewall.
>From Hong Kong I flew to Chengdu where I was shocked when told by two travel
agencies that I could earlies fly to Lhasa in 10 days. Normally it only takes
two or three days to get the nessary Tibet permit in order and fly to Lhasa.
The problem was the 40 years aniversary for establishment of the Tibet
autonomus region on the 1. september, which created long delays for
travellers trying to get into Tibet due to political reasons. I was however
lucky and found after a intense search a travelagent (Sams Guesthouse)which
seemed to be better at corruption than the competitors.
Together with a group of backpackers I flew to Lhasa
Airport onbord a flight
with less than 25% of the seats full. After a 90 kilometers busride we
arrived in Lhasa only to smell the remains of the massive amount of fireworks
from the day before when the celebration took place. I spend four days in
Lhasa for acclimatising and sightseeing. I only wanted to stay three days,
but a mild altitude headage and singing sirens in the shape of backpacker
girls keept me in bay for a landcruiser trip to Gandan monastic and Yamdrok
Co. The road up to the pass before the lake has now been paved, a stark
contrast to 1998 when I used 9 hours to cycle up the gravel road to the pass-
top with a 40 usd mountain bike bought in Lhasa.
I started cycling which was rather hard after not cycling for one month
except for a sucidial 5 kilometers ride on Natan road in central Hong Kong.
Somehow I forced my old body into the bikerytm again and reaced Shigatse, the
second largest city in Tibet after three days of cycling. Here I stayed at
Tenzing Hotel where I was spectator to a rather unorthodox cyclist behavior.
A dutch couple, who apparently had been on the road for 1 1/2 years had hung
a couple of trouhers out on the balcony in the hotelyard for drying. The
trousers had gone missing and when I arrived the Dutch guy had begun to throw
50 cm wide old flower vases down into the hotel yard threatening to throw one
more down every 5 minuts until his thrusers turned up again. I walked away
shaking my head wondering if that was his normal behavior or it was the
frustrations from 1 1/2 years of cyling coming to the surface.
Walking over the a small turist market just opposite the hotel, I kept
shaking my head. Here I could buy horns for about 5 usd for a set of horns
from threatened Tibetan Antelopes, even whole heads I could buy - I counted
31 horns including two whole heads. The number was about the same for Tibetan
Gazelles. These elegant animals belongs to the vast emptyness of Tibets Chang
Tang, not in a dirty souvenir market.
>From Shigatse I biked to Lhatse on a highway under constuction. It wasn't
too bad for cycling except for a pass which looked like it had been invaded
by ants on distance. However, it was an invasion of engineer mashins which
forced me to push the bike most of the way up the pass through mud and
inbetween workers and landcruisers.
[ 本帖最后由 好风长吟 于 2008-8-26 23:28 编辑 ]
Well down from the pass, I met better roadconditons toward Lhatse and
frequent yelled "tashidalay" (hallo) to the kids I passed along the way. A
group of three kids were not satisfied with only a greeting, but wanted me to
stop to hand out candy. When I continued, I was hit by a rather big stone on
my right hand and I squeezed the brakes so hard the bike turned sidewise when
it came to a standstill. After a hot pursuit across two fields I felt pretty
confident the kids were terrified to death and wouldnt throw stones after
other cyclist in the near future. I let them run and biked the last stretch
of road to Lhatse which was about to be paved.
In Lhatse I was taken by a Tibetan to a dirty hotel room where Johannes was
sitting. Johannes, a young 19-old German bought a 200 usd bike in Lhasa and
started out on a bike trip to Kathmandu the day before I. He had been vise to
take another road from to Lhatse and avoided the road construction fuss. We
shared the room together before he took off early the next morning to try his
strength on a 5000+ meters pass on the way toward Nepal.
I passed an easy checkpoint just after lhatse by cycling though it while the
guard was busy checking a drivers licience. After turning off to West Tibet,
the road became rather bad while going up the first of a serie of passes
around 4500 meters high. The weather also detoriorated and I spend one
afternoon in purging rain while going over a pass, the desent very prone to
landslides. Lukely, I found a small Tibetan restaurant where I spend the
night. Here I wondered how the future looked for the owners small child, here
in a place where any school was very distant away.
Slowly I worked my way up into a landscape in the proximity of 5.000 meters
where I came to Raka, a depressing soul-less truckstop with the mandatory
restaurants, shops and truck workshops. He I talked a bit with a truckdiver
in a Hui-restaurant - a muslim Han-chinese restaurant - the best restaurants
around. I showed him on a map where in Tibet I had cycled and he seemed very
puzzled. In a way I understand. For him the roads in Tibet only represents
hard work, but for me they have a higher meaning. They give me access to
unfenched freedom and the opportunity to enjoy one of the most amazing places
on earth - experience the uniqueness of the Tibetan plateau.
There was supposed to be a checkpoint at Raka, but I meet nothing when I
passed the normal turnoff from southern route to the northern, a route which
would bring me fast to Gerze, but I had other plans. A friend of mine, Janne
Corax, had been so evil to mail me pages from a Chinese road atlas over
Tibet. According to these maps I would by going futher on in the southern
part of Tibet run into roadpasses which should be the highest on earth, even
5800+ meters roadpasses might be possible. That was too irresistible for a
thoroughly dreamer, pass-hater by heart, but always ready for a challange how
ever obscure it might be.
There was one backdraw with this plan, a heavy manned checkpoint before the
next town called Saga. I had talked with two backpackers who had been caught
and turned back at the place, also some truckdriver warned me but there was
no way around it. When coming down
toward town from a 5100 meters pass, I was in a I-will-show-the-
gongan/psb/police-mood and cycled right into the heavely
manned checkpoint - they had military uniforms. They called the police in
saga and a police landcruiser came to the checkpoint and told that I had to
get a permit in shigatse. I said there was a bit long to shigatse on a bike
and why getting a travelpermit here was problem since I got one in Ali three
years ago and got one in Darchen last year. They talked forth and back about
this and in the end they took me to the police station in town and told me
that if I paid a fine of 300 yuan (30 USD) I would get a receipt I could show
in Ali as proff for paid fine. Ali psb then would have to give me a permit...
I belive they only were thinking into the money since when I left the room
the 5-6 police men started laughting like mad men - maybe they just got the
money the ali police normally get... I dont know and don't really care
because I don't go to Ali.
发表于 2008-8-26 10:51
In Saga I met a lot of Indian pilgrims going to Mt.
Kailash in West Tibet.
Somehow they didn't fit into the street picture walking around in thick down
jackets while local were wearing t-shirts. I left Saga and while heading up
the first pass outside town I met two swiss bikers who had made it to there
from Kashgar in the Xinjing province. To my amazement they told that one of
their biggest problems had been high-altitude mosquitos. In Chinese Kashmir,
Aksai Chin, they had to bike with their mouth covered in order not to swallow
the small bastards. In Aksai Chin they also stopped at a military camp to ask
for water - water is scare in the area - and some soldiers were about to fill
up their fancy bicycle bottles when a military vehicle came to the base and
out jumped a group of officers with raised maskinguns. They thought the Swiss
werer threathing the soldiers with fancy weapons - the bicycle bottles. In
the end they had to leave without water.
We separeted after talking for an hour. On the other side of the pass worked
Chinese soldiers on leveling the road with shovels. The commander of one of
the groups invited me to stay at their place overnight which I could say no
to. I did so four years ago in Aksai Chin because I would have had to break
my golden rule - cycle every centimeter of the road. I have now grown older and have
become a bit more pragmatic and in the end I drove with them for 15
kilometers to their road construction camp on a road I have cycled before. A
whisle blew soon after arrivial and everyone ran to the dinnerroom and I was
placed next to the commander, a odd character who seemed to be respected
mostly by age and the strange things he could come up with if the soldiers
didnt obey immediately - like throwing a rock after them. Then a officer
tried to explain me what to exect of the small roads I wanted to bike, the
commandor just cut him of, in practise telling that it would be nut for me to
be biking there.
The next day I turned off north into the Gangdise mountains where there
golden high passes according to the maps were suppored to be. After a long
uphill, I slept outside a shepards house. He told that there were two big
passes in front, Shaksha La and
Sanmir La. I was also told the road would
anything but good. The first pass, 5215 meters wasnt bad but I was
disappointed in the sense that a shepard I talked with punctured the dream of
one of the possible 5800 meters roadpasses. There simply wasn't any road up
the pass I considered going over - not a truck - not a bike could go there –
I would have to walk I was told!
发表于 2008-8-26 10:52
After eating some Tsampa (barley with buttertea) I was offered in the
shepards home I went for the Sanmir La, quite big I was told. It certainly
was! The road was very stony and the pass itself, 5504 meter laying in the
shadow of a 7095 meter mountain was extremely flat pass - it took ages to get
over it. While going over it, I had several memory flash back on the kerriya
shankou pass (5604 meters)in Nordwest Tibets uninhabited Chang tang.
Fantastic landscape where six Kiangs (wild Donkies) wondered what I were
doing there. After another 5467 meters pass, I went down into a greenish and
lushish valley after a crazy descent where I had to stop because I feard the
tires would explode from the heat from the rims, so hot I couldn't touch it
with my bare fingers.
发表于 2008-8-26 10:52
After a few minor rivercrossings which demanded taking off my boots I
followed the valley toward north while big towering mountains to the west
should contain what I had been dreaming about for a while, the highest
roadpass on earth, 5746 meters acccording to the Chinese road atlas.
Unfortunately, despite looking intensely for a road up into the mountains, I
only found some very weak trails a few places and I simply didn't believe
there was a road up to a place 40 km away in direct line
in the mountains north of sengli lake. For truck drivers it makes more sense
to drive around the whole mountain complex on the road there.I could have
gone up there, but in my eyes there is not a road up there.
Unfortunately, I missed a tempting and very easy 6000+
meters peak near the 5504 pass since the the 5746 meters roadpass was higher
on my list
After a long haul through some places where the road took kilometerlong
detours when dealing with big riverbeds, I came to Lunggur, a place several
Tibetans had talked about as if it was a major town. I was very disappointed
by this town, only small shops and a few bad tibetan restaurants. The next
day I hurried toward north - Gerze should be three days away I had been told,
unfortunately I wasted 11 kilometers on taking a wrong way and when I got
back on the right track I had to go over a ridiculus steep pass I was barely
able to push the bike over.
After cycling a whole day where Kiangs were seen
in large numbers, I came to a huge building complex under construction next
to a lake which turned out to be a Lithium salt plant. I was dragged in there
by a delegation of engineers from Beijing on a inspection visit. They were
about to leave for Lhasa the next morning and had a small social gathering in
the evening where the chef engineer, a distracted older man tried to get me
drunk while I told him about the places in Tibet I had cycled on road he
claimed didnt exist.
发表于 2008-8-26 10:53
The next morning I was invited for breakfast by one of the engineers, a
Tibetan who had grown up in Rungbuk in the shadow of Mt.
Everest where his
brother now is munk in a local monasty.
From the Lithium plant, I used two day to bike to Gerze on confusing roads,
roads going in different directions but ending up the same place.
Staying her has been pleasent, but somehow I am now fed up with this place, I
just want to get on and face the Chang Tang after a four days food party
here. Also, the hotel staff begin to wonder what I am going to use all the
food I drag to the hotel for. Official I just tell people I go to Ali, the
main town in west Tibet, but that 35 kg. of food is a bit much food going to
All right - no more writing - I leave tomorrow for the big adventure
发表于 2008-8-26 10:54
135 packages of instant noodles. In Gerze
Instant beef noodles, the best kind on the market. Gerze
Gerze, dusty and cold at 4450 meters.
Truck with supplies for Gerze
Fully loaded with 35 kg. of food, 7 L of gazoline and 3.25 L of water
Outside hotel, about to leave Gerze
Ran into kids just outside school. Gerze
My breakfast place. Gerze.
My breakfast place. Gerze
Yak statue in Gerze
Started cycling into Chang Tang, north of Gerze
Started cycling into Chang Tang, north of Gerze.
Sign for the Chang Tang national nature preserve
Light late in the day. Toward Chang Tang.
Lake on the edge of Chang Tang.
Truck trail toward Chang Tang.
Pass in front. Approaching Chang Tang
Top of pass, late in day. Toward Chang Tang
Long downhill toward next pass in front. Toward Chang Tang
Mountains toward west
View toward east. Approaching Chang Tang.
Donkeys next to road. Toward Chang Tang.
- DSC00442.jpg (40.38 KB)
Looking back toward southwest. Into Chang Tang
Downhill from pass toward salt lake. Into Chang Tang.
Salt lake. Toward Chang Tang
Looking to west from edge of salt lake. Into Chang Tang
Heading toward small pass. I somehow miss Lugu(鲁谷). Into Chang Tang.
Curious donkies. Into Chang Tang.
Curious donkies. Into Chang Tang.
Top of small pass. Into Chang Tang.
Nomads on the edge of Chang Tang
Nomads on the edge of Chang Tang.
The local gang of shepards. Into Chang Tang
Small lake: Into Chang Tang
Shepards and Dong Feng trucks. Into Chang Tang
Deteriorating truck trail. Into Chang Tang
Truck near top of pass. Into Chang Tang
Top of pass. Into Chang Tang
Downhill to salt lake. Into Chang Tang
cycling east around lake. Mountains to the south. Into Chang Tang
Bad weather coming in. Into Chang Tang
Going north east around lake, really bad trails.
Weak trail leading up to pass in front
BIG prayer stone
Descending from pass
Looking west after pass.
Looking west after pass. Into Chang Tang
Cycling east around small complex of hills
Shepards in front. Sleept this place
Shepards in front.
Friendly and curious shepards. Helped setting up my tent
A old couple on the edge of Chang Tang.
A old couple on the edge of Chang Tang
Just gone over pass. Last people in 19 days just left behind
Peak to the west I considered climbing before the trip. Too much snow, too steep and too bad weater...
Peak to the west, some 6100 meters
heavy clouds over mountain complex to the west
Holes dug by animals searching for water. Chang Tang
Holes dig by animals searching for water. Chang Tang.
Peaks to the west. Chang Tang.
Small river crossing. Chang Tang.
st. Chang Tang.
Crossing big open plain toward north/northwest
Peaks to the east, Kangser Kangri to the far right?
Peaks to the east, Kangser Kangri among them
Peaks to the east. Chang Tang
Peaks to the west. Chang Tang.
Cave for a wolf? Chang Tang.
Peaks to the east. Chang Tang
Peaks west of burug lake?
Peaks to the east.
Peaks to the west, incl. 6100 meters peak
In the middle of a open plain.
Peaks to the southwest
Abandoned open industrial goldmine
Looking up the goldmine toward distang pass.
Things left behind by golddiggers
Things left behind by golddiggers
Looking down the river with the goldmine.
Left behind material from golddiggers
Old tent places for golddiggers
Trash left behind by golddiggers
Oil left behind by golddiggers
Trash left behind by golddiggers
Garbage left behind by golddiggers
[ 本帖最后由 好风长吟 于 2008-9-15 00:37 编辑 ]
Snow storm comming in. Still 5 km. to top of pass...
Barbage and snow in open goldmine in Chang Tang
Tracks in the snow in goldmine in Chang Tang
Camp the day after snow storm. Two km. to top of 5503 meters pass
Looking back on the way up to the top of pass
Had to use crampons to prevent sliding in the snow.
Animal tracks near pass top
Looking to the down north from 5503 meters pass.
Descending from pass, heading northeast.
Down from the pass on a open plain. Snow storm coming in.
Trying to walk from the snow storm....
About to be caught by the snowstorm
The next morning, about to leave then the gear has dried a bit.
Heading toward lake situated at 5070 meters.
Tent before taken down.
Will more snow fall the next days...
Drying gear - a wet sleeping bag is a disasterrr.
A bird's nest
Typical vegatation in Chang Tang
Old campspot. Belongs to Sven Hedin?
Old campspot. About two meters in diameter
Heading north of the lake toward another pass. Ground soft here.
Dinner rest while drying gear.
Dinner while drying gear.
Wolf nearby my tent.
Female Chirus after climbing pass.
Looking back on pass.
Heading north in riverbed. Dry and frossen. Possible to bike 10 kilometers here.
High altitude enviroment.
Typical Chang Tang in autumn.
Heading north toward flat pass. Did nearly 30 kilometers this day.
Looking southeast. Altitude above 5100 meters.
Later in the day - ground too soft for cycling.
Over small pass. Now passing small lake on my right.
Campspot just before very soft riverstream crossing.
Still not able to lift the bike due to all the food. Here heading north.
First look on major mountain massive in front. Looks like the Sydney opera house on distance
Bike tracks from 4 russian bikers going the opposite way one month before me without my knowledge
About to leave relatively flat terrain
Going over the first of two small but steep passes
walking toward pass
Good weather, good mood
Looks easy, but much more steep terrain in reality
Mountain complex on the border between Tibet and Xinjiang province
Finished two sharp small passes, now awaits a river crossing I have feared much during the planning process
Looking northwest along big rivervalley
Male Chirus - easy to approach
Male Chirus in winterfur
First part of the rivervalley dryed out at this time of the year
More tracks of the russians. I choose another route
Going east up through riverbed on a small detour
6300 meters peak in view to the north
Pushing the bike over small hills
Should I try to climb it or not?
This line of mountains marks the border into the Xinjiang provence
About to turn north cycling down a dry riverbed.
Strange formations in sandy area
Stipa grass in front of sandy formations
These sand formations gave me a strange feeling of not being alone
There were small snow dunes everywhere along my way, minimising my need for carring water
Pushing the bike for a while.
Small lake - much bigger than on my russian map. Reason: A lake futher east (according to my map) had been filled up with material , causing the water to enter this lake instead.
Going south around small lake
Still in doubt, should I go for it despite my bad boots
Following riverbed. The best and most stable terrain.
Snowy conditions in the mountains.
Go for it or not...
View from northwest to 6300 meters peak.
- DSC00652.jpg (73.18 KB)
Choose not to attempt a climb. Worried about my boots and how to get out of Chang Tang in case of an injury.
Long haul northeast around the mountain complex
GPS, Russian 1:200.000 map and notebook for coordinates.
Hard pushing session!
Heading straight ahead - crossing over deep deep river beds on the way.
Gazoline container thrown by poachers long time ago?
Gazoline container thrown by poachers long
Heading north - Pushing the bike, gasp for air, push the bike, etc...
The last hideout place for the Yeti? Looking back south on the mountain complex.
My boots are a disaster. The Gore-Tex don't breath enough.
On my way over a small mountain range. Ups and downs all the time.
The lakes were all frosen during my crossing through Chang Tang.
Had to make a 5 km. detour because I found it too risky to cross over 500 meters of ice. The ice seems ok, but something happened it could have been it.
Frozen lake. Very noicy at night when temperatures plundged down to -28 C and the lakes froze even futher.
Used half of a day going over a pass snowy here
[ 本帖最后由 好风长吟 于 2008-9-15 17:38 编辑 ]
Still big problems with my boots.
Following riverbed up to another pass, the last big pass on the crossing.
Rocks in riverbed looing east.
Going down from the pass.
Strange circle shaped stone, flat on both sides. To heavy to take along.
Still following river, soon going below 5000 meters altitude
Landscape flattens out
Following frozen river for a whilie.
To my amazement I suddenly run into tracks from heavy mashnes. Goldminers, I'm quite certain alsready at this point.
Reluctant I follow the trails - must lead down to Pulu, more than 150 km. away.