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Meili Snow Mountain
    2007-04-02 17:09:07     CRIENGLISH.com

The Meili Mountain located in steep mountain areas in west Yunnan, is the highest mountain in Yunnan where nobody has ever tried to climb to the peak. [Photo: YNFP]

For more than a millennium, from Tang Dynasty 1300 years ago to the 1960s, tea and horse traders trudged along the small passages that cut through the Henduan Mountains and the Himalayas in southwest China.

Being a very important commercial road connecting Tibet, India, Sichuan and Yunnan, this path is hidden away in the high mountains and almost unknown to the outside world.

Today's travel destination, Meili Snow Mountain, lies along this path.

Now let's follow our guide, Manli, to this important and holy mountain.

Around 800 kilometers from Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, Meili Snow Mountain towers over the landscape in west Deqin County in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Also known as "Prince Snow Mountain", it is the world's most sacred Tibetan mountain.

Meili Mountain has long been famous for Kang Karpo Peak, Yunnan's tallest at 6,740 meters above sea level. Thirteen lesser peaks, each more than 6,000 meters above sea level, surround it.

Kang Karpo Peak looks like it's been covered in gold when the sun rises in the east, just like the British writer James Hilton wrote in his famous book "The Lost Horizon".

The Kang Karpo Peak is one of the eight sacred mountains the Tibetans worship.

Legend has it the peak is the incarnation of a Tibetan God who helped the local people drive an evil spirit away. Kang Karpo means white snow mountain in the Tibetan language and it's named after a patron saint in Tibetan Buddhism.

It's said Kang Karpo often rode a white horse with a sword in his hand. His majestic appearance was similar to that of the peak. Legend says that if you could reach the top of the Potala Palace, you would see the profile of Kang Karpo through the colorful clouds. Every year from the end of autumn to the start of winter, thousands of Tibetan pilgrims walk to pay homage at Kang Karpo.

Humans conquered Qomolangma, the world's tallest mountain, a long time ago but no one has climbed Kang Karpo Peak. It's protected by perpendicular cliffs and a treacherous climate.

Kang Karpo Peak remains mysterious and elusive because it's constantly surrounded by clouds and mist. But if you have the time and patience to struggle through the haze, the gorgeous view at the top is definitely worth it.

Beneath the peak, the Mingyong and Sinong glaciers stretch down to the forest at an elevation of 2,700 meters, only 800 meters from Lancang River. It's rare to find permanent glaciers at such a low latitude and they're definitely worth a visit.

The Mingyong Glacier, in particular, drops from an elevation of 5,500 meters to the forest zone around 2,700 meters above the sea level in the rainy season. From afar it looks like a huge white snake wriggling its way among the verdant mountains.
A one-hour mule ride along the Mingyong Glacier ends at the Prince Temple, a very important sacred site for Tibetans. This is the one must-see destination on any trip around Meili.

Outside the temple, there are several huge mani mounds of colorful religious inscriptions. Lots of Tibetan pilgrims also travel here to walk around the mountain.

The stones inside the holy mountain are not regular stones. The local people even say one of the rocks embodies the wisdom of the world.

The pilgrims bring the ashes of their deceased family members here, praying for a quick and good reincarnation for them.

On the south side of the main peak, a waterfall the locals call "a deluge of rain and God-mandated cascade" tumbles down from a breathtaking height of 1,000 meters. Pure water splashes from the cracks in the snow and you can often see rainbows above the fall.

Trekking between mountains of the Meili is pure joy. The mountains possess some of the region's highest diversity plants.

They also provide habitat for many wild animals. As you breathe the extremely fresh air, you can imagine how the pilgrims feel when they walk their spiritual pilgrimages to the Meili mountains. There is a sense of togetherness, a perfect harmony with the Mother Nature.

The best season for visiting Meili Mountain is from January to May, when it has snow-capped peaks, dense forests, vast grasslands and beautiful wild flowers. The rainy summer season makes the trail muddy and difficult. The region is also nice from mid-October to mid-November when it is covered with marvelous autumn colors. Winter is cold and heavy snowfalls may block roads and isolate the region for weeks or months.

There are two pilgrimage routes. It takes about four or five days to complete the inner route from Deqin to Mingyong, Xidang and the Yubeng villages. Along the route the Feilai Temple and the Prince Temple are excellent places to enjoy the spectacular view of Meili Mountain's 13 peaks. You can also see the sacred waterfall, the Mingyong Glacier, magnificent sunrises and sunsets, as well as the gorges of the Lancang River.

The second route is the outside full pilgrimage circuit of the Kang Karpo Peak. It takes 8 to 12 days to finish, as the pristine area has no vehicular roads. Nowadays, these pilgrimage routes attract more and more hikers.

No wonder in China we say you have to really sweat and toil to view the most beautiful scenery. The Mingyong glacier spreads all the way down from the peak of Meili snow mountain to about 2000 meters above sea level, it's absolutely gorgeous! 

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