Jul 20 2009

Driving safe

It takes about an hour for me to relax in the realisation that Dave is an awesomely good driver and knows the road extremely well. Indeed he doesn’t just know the road, he seems to know everyone on it too. His skill is appreciated as I take millions of pics and much video (to be edited & uploaded once home). The moving pictures, I am sure, will capture the drama of this magnificent journey best, but here is what a driver on this mountain road faces as he hurtles through settlements, villages, roadworks and farms:

Children, handcarts, grandmas, yaks, monks, donkeys, bikes, pigs, tractors, goats and laundry – all these can be on the road at any time. Hence Dave adopts the ‘hoot & go’ approach. You hoot and go. Simple. And it is hoot & go for overtaking too – although this takes a little longer as a passenger to feel comfortable about. In all we are in each other’s company for close on 5 hours and he is one of the most skilful drivers I have been driven by. He gets me back down to Shangri La safely, but fast, skilfully, but cautiously and I thank Dave for that.

This is one of those epic journeys that is impossible to bring to life here, but I have picked out some random best bits for now – there will be loads more to come, given bit of time. One breathtaking ride. (On the road from Deqin 20 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 19 2009

Dizzy in Deqin

Deqin (pron Durr Chin) is already at an altitude of 3350m I was staying in a mountain lodge higher up the road towards the Tibetan border (see next post). And so to the first Deqin Don’t. Don’t rush in. With the idea I would climb above the hostel to take in even more breathtaking views, the views took my breath and I had to take myself down again. With the little time available to me as this trip nears its end, I believed I could do more than I could and ended up feeling decidely dodgy. My best advice for this most awe inspiring of places is to plan a few days of nothing when you first get here, then once acclimatised the terrain is yours to discover. Nonetheless, despite my haste and paying the price, I was treated to some amazing sights in the hills above Deqin, the best of which was when the mighty Mei Li Xue Shan (6740m) revealed her sacred peak through the cloud. This mountain has never been climbed (in the last attempt in 1991, 17 Japanese mountaineers lost their lives). But enough, here are the pictures and there will be more because this place has to be visited again, it is awesome. (Dizzy above Deqin 18/19 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

At every turn

P1030826 P1030832 P1030845.JPG P1030843The splendour of the scenery here is breathtaking. All these shots are from the section between Naxi and Halfway Guesthouse. Along the way you can stop at the Tea Horse for refreshment (or the night if you’ve had enough – you can even take Tai Chi classes, hmmm). (TLG day one 14 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 17 2009

Into the gorge as darkness falls

So we folded, but there was still a tiring end of day climb, from Qitao first onto the start of the gorge trail, then a solid 9k to reach the Naxi Family Guesthouse, a perfect point to set off from on the gorge trail proper in the morning. Peter strode ahead up this early section of Tiger Leaping Gorge – keen, as he said, not to be walking in the dark (there were moments when I wondered if he meant US walking in the dark or just HIM walking in the dark…) Anyhow, we were finally installed at the Naxi Family Guesthouse just before 9pm and just after sunset. Over supper we agreed our 3/4 complete trek had been fun, we also decided that now we were safely ON the gorge trail, we could set our own paces and wend our separate ways. I slept incredibly well here and before bedding down I saw more stars in the sky than I ever before have seen, it was breathtaking. Awaking to beautiful views, I settled my bill and noticed people had posted their business cards on the board all around the office in the Naxi courtyard. Could I also leave my calling card here? Yes, of course! Imagine my delight when, unprompted, the delightful Naxi girl decided to place me in such illustrious company. But enough ego. Let’s get up this gorge and see what all the fuss is about 🙂 (Into Tiger Leaping Gorge 13 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 1 2009

Dali High

At 2000m Dali is already quite high. Yesterday when I arrived it was pounding with rain and there was nothing to see. In addition I foolishly left my camera on the express bus from Kunming… Thank god for Tao in Kunming and Peng here in Dali. 11 phone calls later and Peng was taking me back to Dali new town (I’m in the old town) on a bus to retrieve the camera from the lost property officer at the bus station. Between them they solved something that would have been impossible for me. Tao tells me I need to give one of the Rough Edge T shirts to the bus driver on my return to Kunming – he’s going to organise this.

Luckily this morning the rain had cleared and as I stepped out of the courtyard of Peng’s climbers’ guesthouse (bunkhouse) I saw the mountains for the first time – rising steeply above the streets of this amazing little walled city with pockets of cloud sitting in their hollows up to a dizzy 4116m. It is truly breathtaking and I can’t wait to get up there and discover more.

Now I am busy finding a partner to come with me and the first step is to move from Peng’s place to the Birds Nest – a small hostel where people can speak English and with a very wonderful relaxed Tibetan feel. I’m writing this along with a couple of earlier catch-up posts from the free internet cafe at the China Youth Hostel (I expect I’ll be back here during my time in Dali)

(Dali China Youth Hostel free internet cafe 1 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce