-One of the most challenging treks on the planet explores the most remote region of Bhutan–
Mountain Madness is a Seattle-based mountaineering and trekking company specializing in expertly guided adventure-travel. From Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest, to the Matterhorn and Mount Rainier, Mountain Madness offers all levels of climbing, skiing, trekking, and instruction, all around the world.
Now up on the 2022 calendar is Mountain Madness’ Bhutan Snowman trek.
From September twenty-fourth to October twenty-fourth, 2022, join long-time Mountain Madness guide Deanna Zabaldo for an unforgettable adventure to the spiritual land of Bhutan. Nestled high in the Himalayas and bordered by China, Tibet, and India, Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy that remains an ancient and uncolonized country.
Traditional Buddhist values are the foundation of the government, business practices, and personal beliefs, and the national philosophy of “Gross National Happiness” is Bhutan’s guiding principle. Cautious in allowing growth and development, tourism is strictly limited to maintain the country’s pristine valleys and the peaks of the Eastern Himalaya.
Experience Bhutanese culture and customs, monasteries, and lush landscape brimming with rhododendron and regal alpine forests. Your trek is sure to be rewarded with breathtaking views of unclimbed summits, high ridges, and deep river gorges. One of the most challenging in the world, the Bhutan Snowman trek crosses several high passes among 22,000+- foot peaks as it explores the most remote regions of Bhutan.
A certified Wilderness First Responder, Zabaldo was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal and learned about the complexities of international development, regional politics, caste hierarchy, economic disparity, and modernization, all while hiking through the world’s most spectacular mountains.
Her expertise in the area and commitment to client service won her the 2013 World Guide Award. Whether drinking yak milk in nomad tents, or chatting with street vendors, Deanna can create an authentic experience for clients while bringing the culture alive through rapport with farmers, factory owners, and hermit monks. From rice paddies to mountaintop temples, Zabaldo has been moved by the spiritual and cultural vibrancy of the region—and she can’t wait to share it with you. With the best guide for the terrain and location, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable trip
The Snowman Trek starts in the town of Paro, located in a lush valley of rice terraces and hillsides peppered with white-painted monasteries and temples. With highlights including a visit to Taktsang Gompa, one of the most famous monasteries in Bhutan, you’ll see why it’s called the “Tiger’s Nest”—it’s perched on the side of a cliff 3000 feet above the valley floor! Driving to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, you’ll scale Buddha point, visit Buddhist nuns and a local art school, and take in the beauty of the luxurious Tara temple.
As you begin your trek into the mountains at Koina, you’ll camp by the river’s edge, and as you near Laya, you’ll see local people journeying with their load-laden yaks. After a few days of climbing and acclimating, you’ll climb to an unbelievable view of the KangBum, Treigang, and Jejekangphu Gang mountains. A steep descent into Lunana valley includes a bridge crossing over the Tarina River to reach camp.
Further climbing through peaceful alpine flowers, past cascading waterfalls, and into fir and juniper forests will lead you to the village of Thanza for an opportunity to rest and regroup. Next is the gradual climb to Tshorim to see the beautiful turquoise blue glacier lake, followed by an easy descent along the clear Sasha Chu river. From there it’s a challenging climb with three passes to cross: Phodrang La, Sakela La, and Warthang La. To recuperate, the next day’s trekking ends at a camp complete with a natural hot spring spa. You’ll spend a full day here relaxing, soaking, journaling—the choice is yours!
Finally, you’ll climb a steep grade through alpine rhododendron and silver fir forests, benefitting from many switchbacks as you ascend and eventually reach Djule La to make camp in an open meadow. In the morning you’ll visit a yak herder’s camp to learn about their daily life before following the glacier river downstream to Bumthang valley. Keep your eye out for wild boar, barking deer, Kalij pheasant, and laughing thrashes as you take one last look over a valley cradling Dhur village. It’s here you’ll say goodbye to your trekking staff as your driver escorts you to hot showers, comfortable beds, and cold Red Panda beer at your hotel in Bumthang.
In the morning, you’ll fly back to Paro—an amenity missing from other guide companies that prefer to end similar journeys with a two-day bus ride—to explore the downtown, shop, and spend your last night in a hotel. As you fly home the next morning, you’ll be firm in the realization that you’ve just accomplished climbs, met people, and seen nature’s untouched beauty in a way that few ever will.
EXTENDED TRIP: MASK DANCE FESTIVAL
If you think you might prefer a slightly longer stay in Bhutan, be sure to opt in for the Paro Tshechu extension to enjoy an exciting and colorful display of traditional Bhutanese culture featuring mask dances and other entertainment. Running September twenty-eighth to October twenty-eighth, you will drive to a mask dance festival performed at fortresses and monasteries throughout Bhutan.
Monks perform a series of carefully choreographed dances to honor the saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. This is a sacred event and Bhutanese believe that attending this celebration offers them a special blessing for spiritual protection. After the festival, you’ll stay the night in a hotel before returning to Paro for your flight home.
It’s hard not to be enticed by such an extraordinary adventure, so what are you waiting for? Let Mountain Madness and inspiration lead the way along the Bhutan Snowman Trek. Find your passport, dust off that backpack, and get going!
BOOK YOUR TRIP WITH A SPECIAL $100 DISCOUNT OFFER
Use code: facethecurrent at www.mountainmadness.com when booking this trip (or any international trek or climb) with Mountain Madness. Same code applies for domestic (US) trips for $50 off