Snow Mountain

Nicholas Quirke was 4500m up a mountain on 2 May 2021 and in warrior spirit. A short car journey, after an early breakfast of pumpkin congee, barley bread and sesame Bing, took them to the foothills of Xhika snow mountain. This was one of 9 peaks in the hangshan range and from its snowy summit all the mountain tops can be viewed. There was only one way to the top and that was by cable car. He was looking forward to the views and was disappointed when they got inside the carriage to discover that the glass was shattered and the view obscured. They suffered the poor view but fortunately there was a station mid way and rather than share a car they stopped and waited for the next cab. There were posters and quotes from ‘Lost Horizon’ and once again he felt like he was living in the story and headed towards the mystical mountain. There were only two and they had been joined by some others but as they wanted the car to themselves they stopped anyone else getting in to the anger of the staff. They had the car to themselves but the equilibrium of the day had been shattered. The views soon soothed their tempers and ire was replaced with awe. They were getting hugest and higher and the rock escarpments were jaw dropping in size. He was lost in the views but a little let down by the lack of snow on Snow Mountain. Approaching 4500 m it was very cold and the a little altitude sickness set in with lack of breath and a headache. The spectacular views were truly remarkable and he couldn’t help but share his excitement on live video. He was excited too when he found a small patch of snow and another opportunity to stray from the given path. The altitude was marked with a sign and a typical Tibetan shrine where the obligatory photos were taken. When they had finally had enough of the cold they traveled back down the mountain and stopped to take in the grasslands and ranch of the plateau. It had threatened to be a wet and cloudy day but once again the sun was beating down on the brown scorched earth and though cold gave the views a dramatic colour. He had another encounter with an animal when a yak which had focused its attention on him scarily tossed its horns at him. They enjoyed some snacks outside the closed and derelict restaurant and went back to take the last leg down the mountain. They were the first in the queue and when the cabs next came round to their fury and that of they people behind them a couple with their granddaughter from further down the line pushed their way into their cab. They were prepared to share but the rudeness of the couple made them obnoxious and their behaviour was fuelled when the girl started playing a noisy game on her phone. A request to stop was ignored and Nicholas indulging a small fantasy he had always had found a noisy piece of music on his phone and played it at full blast. Peng followed suit and they travelled down the the rest of the mountain with a hideous cacophony of sound terrorising them all. The mood for a fight dissipated once they were back on terra firma and after freshening up at the hotel they went to cafe where they spent the a relaxing couple of hours. There was one last temple they wanted to visit which sat above Shangri-la from where a view of the city and its iconic citadels could be viewed. By the time they set off the sun was beating down making the walk a little uncomfortable. They reached the temple, photographed the beautiful pavilions and prayer flags and when Nicholas asked if they could go up a flight of stairs the monk directed them to the other side of the building where they found themselves climbing a suspiciously rickety ladder onto a small unused roof top. It felt like they had made some kind of mistake but they took pictures and descended to walk to the restaurant where they planned to have supper. Rather than go back the way they came they took a different path down the mountain and once again found themselves in a graveyard before eventually finding the exit. A simple small and delicious supper was consumed afterwards went back to the hotel to pack and prepare and sleep for their departure early in the morning.

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