Dzonglha to Dragnag via Chola Pass
Chola Pass (5368), the second of the 3 Passes Trek, is considered by some to be the most “fun” because you cross an icy glacier just before the pass. For us, heading in the anti-clockwise direction, it was the easiest of the 3 passes.
We woke to another beautiful clear but bitingly cold day. We left Dzonglha at just before 6:30, a bit late as most groups had left at 6 or earlier.
The first part of the climb traverses a valley along a gentle rolling ascent. A brisk calm morning, the ground was frozen and the light was just starting to illuminate choice peaks.
The way in front of us was beautifully lit but sadly the view behind us of Ama Dablum was in shadow and would remain that way until after we left the valley.
The next section of the climb is a scramble of sorts up a rock face. Not so bad at all if you are used to this sort of thing. It would actually be fun if it weren’t for the altitude. Once at the top of the wall there is a short level section before crossing the icy glacier. Once you reach this point you’ve finished most of the climb to the pass.
It’s a gentle ascent across the glacier. Our micro spikes made it easier on the rough ice but weren’t really necessary.
At the end of the ice it is a short rock climb to the pass.
The pass was busy at 9:45 when we first arrived. There were far fewer people when we left an hour later. However you don’t want to chance too late of an arrival as the views from the pass could be cloaked in clouds.
While there are impressive views on both sides of the pass I found the ones at Kongma La, the first pass, more striking, mostly because of the blue green glacial lake at the foot of the peaks.
After the pass there is still a long journey to Dragnag starting with a steep decline down a rocky face. Although challenging, with a good guide the track down is quite manageable. You should be comfortable trekking on rocks and sometimes large boulders.
Once down you still have to traverse a rocky moraine to a gentle climb up the other side of the valley. At the top of the last hill the track turns left and follows the creek down the valley to Dragnag.
The views from the valley are not as impressive as some. If it weren’t for the altitude this would be a challenging but pleasant trail heading in this direction. If conquering Chola Pass from the other direction (west to east), however, the climb to the pass would be long and tedious.
We arrived in Dragnag at 2PM. Indra had called ahead and reserved us a room at the Chola Pass Resort. OK accommodations with a toilet shared by 2 rooms.
Indra finds out that the porters picked up our bags at 9 this morning. Relieved he heads back out to greet them. At 2:30 they arrive at the lodge, everyone happy to be reunited.
October 15, 2018
For links to all the posts in this series see the 3 Passes Trek page.