TIBET KYUNGLUNG TRAVEL SERVICE. Liars and cheaters! Остерегайтесь - мошенники!

понедельник, июня 03, 2013

Trek to the Kanchung wall (the Eastern wall) of Everest

(or the Story of Great Cheating in Tibet)

I have been preparing this trek for 3 years. I studied lots of literature, translated stories about the Kanchung wall traverse, worked out the route basing on the descriptions from guidebooks, arranged and got confirmation of the receiving parties, persuaded my friends to undertake this particular and expensive trek seducing them by the chance to see the legendary places which had been never treaded by the Post-Soviet travelers.

Trek to Tibet Itinerary agreed with the Receiving Parties.

1st day Monday 29.04 Arriving by plane to Kathmandu
2nd day Tuesday 30.04 Kathmandu, formalizing documents to Tibet
3rd day Wednesday 01.05 Moving from Kathmandu to Nialam
4th day Thursday 02.05 Acclimatization at Nialam
5th day Friday 03.05 Passage to Tingri
6th day Saturday 04.05 Driving up to Rongbuk monastery (4980m), driving/accessing the Eastern wall of Everest (5150m), taking photo of the Northern wall, moving to Kharta (3750m)
7th day Sunday 05.05 Map, preparing for the trek (food, yaks), training access to pass Zamchung La (4500 m) or walking to Tarpalin Gompa (4120m) monastery
8th day Monday 06.05 Start of the trek to the Kangchung wall, moving to Damphu
9th day Tuesday 07.05 Trek to the Kama valley via pass Shao La (4970 m)
10th day Wednesday 08.05 Trek to the Kangchung valley (Joksam)
11th day Thursday 09.05 Trek to Pethang Ringmo (4850 m)
12th day Friday 10.05 Trek to BC the Kangchung Eastern wall (5100m)
13th day Saturday 11.05 Trek to Pethang Ringmo (4850 m)
14th day Sunday 12.05 Trek to Shurim Tsho lake (advance camp of Langma La pass (4970m)
15th day Monday 13.05 Passage to Langma La pass (5390m), descent to Lhundrubling (4390 m)
16th day Tuesday 14.05 Trek to Kharta, driving to Tashidzong (4110m)
17th day Wednesday 15.05 Driving to Shigadze
18th day Thursday 16.05 Driving to Lhasa
19th day Friday 17.05 Lhasa
20th day Saturday 18.05 Air flight to Kathmandu
21st day Sunday 19.05 Kathmandu, reserve day
22nd day Monday 20.05 Air flight back home

Trek layout

And here is a report about the route we have actually taken “thanks” to the firm from Lhasa "TIBET KYUNGLUNG TRAVEL SERVICE".

A group of 7 people arrived at Kathmandu in the evening by 3 different air flights. Visa to Nepal was acquired at the airport of Kathmandu at the price of USD 40, multi-entrance, valid for 30 days. This time our Agent in Nepal was “7 SUMMITS” (http://7summits-adventure.ru/).
The group consisted of Vitaliy Tomchik, Sergey Kolomiets, Viacheslav Kolomiets, Valeriy Grach, Yulia Grach, Alexey Shkabura, Alexander Strakhov.

We stayed at the hotel SAMSARA
(http://www.tripadvisor.ru/Hotel_Review-g293890-d633635-Reviews-Samsara_Resort- Kathmandu_Kathmandu_Valley_Bagmati_Zone_Central_Region.html), one of the most decent hotels in Tamela, the touristic center of Kathmandu. Hot water and electricity is available daylong (with intervals for starting generator).
Happy reunion of the group was celebrated at the renovated restaurant OR2K (http://www.tripadvisor.ru/Restaurant_Review-g293890-d1140716-Reviews-OR2K-Kathmandu_Kathmandu_Valley_Bagmati_Zone_Central_Region.html) with giant salads and hummus.

In the morning we handed over our passports to obtain Chinese visas and permits to Tibet.
We were thrilled and nervous to get the result, as the Chinese comrades had been celebrating the 1st of May for several days.
Should we have been unable to get all documents prior to the 30th of April, we had had to wait for a few days in Kathmandu for the re-opening of the Embassy.
Everything went well, the permits were received. By the way, it’s important to mention that all documents, filled out forms and photos had been duly sent one month prior to the flight to Kathmandu. At this time we have also acquired tickets for the flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu. We had a group visa and group permit, no special stamps in our passports, for division of the group is not encouraged.
We have met Elena Trishakova, the manager of “7 SUMMITS” and its director, the legendary Mingma Gelu Sherpa (http://7summits.ru/staff/9/), who has many a times ascended Everest and other eight-thousanders.

A plan of the trek has been fully conformed by the “7 SUMMITS” and the firm from Tibet -
"TIBET KYUNGLUNG TRAVEL SERVICE". This firm is headed by Mr.Donglei (they call him Dong Li in Kathmandu).
We recommend you to remember the name of the firm and its general manager. It may come in handy.

In the evening we loaded truck with cargo, food and personal belongings. The truck was leaving early in the morning to Kodari, an autonomous district of China at the border with Tibet (hereinafter called “Tibet”), we left by bus around 09.00 o’clock.

1st of May.
People are celebrating the May-day, while we are rocking on a bus which looks good, but cracks from time to time on our way to the Tibetan border.

The road is nasty, smashed in many places by mudflows and rockfalls. It’s clear now why it is preferable to get to Tibet on a plane from Lhasa at the monsoon period.
We reached Kodari and having received stamps for exit from Nepal, crossed the bridge to Tibet.

At the border, under a large overhang, we see lots of people, mostly women and children. It’s a quarantine, from which people try to leak to Tibet, crowding and waiting for identification. It is dirty and stinky, hungry children asking for food.
We are inside a hall where everyone is lined up to pass the border according to the List of people. First of all, the Customs’ clearance, there’s nothing to find faults with, just sluggish checking of our backpacks. At this very moment our loads and packs were briskly crossing the border on backs of some sprightly women and accumulating on the Tibetan side.
Then, around 40 minutes of shock and waiting, as it turned out the permits contained rough mistakes made in the names of V.Grach and A.Strakhov. Owing to these mistakes we could have been put in quarantine with the rest of the public. A guide named Tashi who had met us (I wish I could call him a “skunk” here) thrashed about the frontier guards and settled this matter. The permits got stamps “corrections to trust” and we found ourselves in Tibet. Our cargo was reloaded on the Chinese truck. Two Toyota jeeps, apparently not in the best condition, were also waiting for us.

We move to Zangma, there we’re immediately surrounded by the money changers:
1 USD = 6 Yuan is an acceptable rate, besides, there’ll be no other chance to change money, so, better to use it.
At the restaurant we simply handed over USD 10,000 to our guide Tashi, because getting any formal supporting document or receipt is not customary here. Alas, everything you do should be on mutual confidence.

Meanwhile, we go to Nialam, the hotel there is not bad, unless you start climbing to the 5th floor. The good news we are the only ones living here, the place is clean and plenty of hot water. Tashi suggested we should take a shower, there be no other opportunity afterwards to use hot water.

Before we have arrived, we struggled to get permission for using our own cook at the hotels of stay. Our cook Kami accompanied the group from Nepal with two assistants responsible for our everyday life. To eat at the local eateries is dangerous, expensive and not tasty. We’ve got what we wanted and in the very first evening of stay our cook treated us with the famous borshch (our national vegetable soup) which in combination with the Ukrainian lard added to the positive side of the travel. There was no other place for the festivity, but reception (there’s no restaurant), so the guests of the hotel got envious about the way we celebrated the 1st of May. We had some shots of “Jagermeister” to the health of all comrades, which mysteriously, while we were enjoying ourselves, “had got broken and disappeared in the abyss” – at least we were told so by the clerks.

My sleep, if you may call it a sleep, was painful, with interruptions for taking various medicines, I got better only in the morning.


Mingma crying “See you on the Eastern wall of Everest!” had left us, the group proceeded for acclimatization.
There is a pass close to Nialam connected by the road very unpleasant for the first day of acclimatization trek of the group. You become really dumb following all zig-zags of the road, and although there is a possibility to cut the way, we continued going mostly to manifest our good physical condition.

As to me, I was glad to be able to shift my feet along the road. I could see the Tibetans plowing their plots with Yaks, planting potatoes, growing herbs, a few sheep close to the river… I had finally reached some place, nevertheless, coming almost to the line of snow, and hurried on downwards, together with Yulia. I guessed we made enough for the first day. On our way back it started raining, so my decision to return to the hotel was timely.

Ascending the 5th floor was easier and jollier this time, a shower and then a dinner helped to the common good feeling, and a sound sleep had made the best of it.


We moved to Tingri, 4500m. Though the road was excellent my body did not react with delight at the prospects of the next mountain’s climbing. We had a stop over at the house where Tashi was born, his father and mother welcomed us. Their house is quite traditional: a pit and a cattle-shed on the first floor, people live on the second floor.

We were treated in the family house with the Tibetan tea churned with milk and Yak’s butter. Suffice it to say, that tea is no more whipped by the traditional beater which you can presently find only at the junkman’s store, it disappeared just as our spinning-wheels had disappeared; to our surprise tea was whipped by a mixer connected to the battery.
Such reality hurts your eyes. We had also chance to taste dried meat of Yak which reminded me the taste of fiber plywood. The drivers were happy to chew it, while I had no courage to try. A good-looking and brisk sister of Tashi dropped in from the fields where they all grow barley to prepare the so-called Zampa, the basic peasants’ food.

I proposed to pay for the food to the mother of Tashi, she had refused, but Tashi ordered her to accept the money. What’s the use of treating people free-of-charge, money is the best measure of hospitality…
There is just one sleeping place at Tingri – “Snow leopard”, no less…It looks like a square of one-storey buildings surrounded by the cheerless hills, lots of wind and dust…
Hot water is a long-forgotten subject, though useless bathrooms are available. Last time we stayed at the rooms with bathroom facilities outdoors, not realizing there were rooms fully equipped. At the restaurant, where we have enjoyed the goodies made by our own cook, other guests we munching rice and noodles.
The meeting with a girl named Masha (or quite probably Natasha) at the height of 4500m I took with some detachment, it’s too high after all…The girl accompanied two cyclists who had been riding bikes along the Tibetan roads for the sake of some kind of charity. They came down the Eastern wall of Everest that day after a night spent there. In reality it is almost unendurable task, as the road is next to impossible for cycling. The bicyclists were looking really bad and required some kind of charity for themselves. As the result of it, we shared something tasty with Masha-Natasha, who surprised us saying she was from Israel. Though, what is surprising?
That night I had plenty of uneasy thoughts and a headache: “What am I doing here? It’s high season of strawberries and cherries in Odessa after all”. These thoughts were killed by strong medicines, and the next morning was quite bright and relieving.


Driving to the Eastern wall of Everest.
After 3 hours drive over dusty road the MOUNTAIN has showed itself. The Northern wall. However, a steppe wolf, which happened to be a dog later, made bigger sensation for the group.

The Rongbuk monastery, a square place spotted with large tents made of black wool with “Grand Hotel”, “Hotel Negresco” etc.inscriptions, tables with artifacts “made in China”, jade, corals, amber made of plastic, enticing calls of tradesmen: “see and buy, it’s cheap”…

The altitude of 5000 meters materialized quite unexpectedly for us. Its view fusing into certain phantasmagoric landscape with a clear and ideally formed background is focused on the Northern wall of Everest.
We are not allowed to drive further on jeeps, the road is under control of the local mafia possessing a barrier, a bus and the right to sell bus tickets. We’ve been taken by bus to the Chinese check-point (we might have walked the distance, but there is no time to spare, besides, my body rejects the idea); from the top of the hill the border guards let the tourists behold a magnificent view of Everest almost point-blank. Though I must say it’s not Everest any more, but Dzhomolungma as we call it, or Chomolungma as the Tibetans say.

Deep down, close to the old moraine, there are tents of numerous expeditions. It is base camp.

Its’ about 2 days trek over Rongbuk glacier to ABC (Advanced Base Camp). We are not allowed to the Eastern wall, they say we need special permit for it. As to our friend Mingma, he somehow had not come to clap us on the shoulders and to help us obtain admission for playing billiard on the table which had been delivered earlier by the team of Alexander Abramov. Does it mean that Mingma has been in the know of some information we have missed? In any case, he wouldn’t have shared this sacred information with us.

We take pictures of the wall, there’s subdued exaltation, our movements remind me of the divers in the water depth – the height is 5100m. Waiting for the bus we had a talk with a pleasant Chinese border guard. He is loitering around for a year or so, descending from the mountain in the winter time, much hoping to get a shift to the warmer place. Out of melancholy he is collecting money of different countries, not the worst hobby after all, our contribution to the collection amounted to 5 Ukrainian Hrivna. He wanted to contribute with 5 Yuan, but we refused and asked for a photo instead.

We went down to the “hotels”, had some tea with milk and butter, apparently not a cappuccino, but certainly much healthier at the moment, then there was driving to Kharta. The pure Martian landscapes on the way. Our driving being long and uncomfortable, we arrived in the evening and in the rain. I believed there’s no rains in Tibet in May. That was the very last contradiction between my soft suppositions and cruel reality.
After short rest at the place which can be vaguely called a “tea-room” adjusted by unique toilet with opening in the roof, there came a truck to get us to the camp site situated in an hour’s drive from Kharta. Actually it’s a fenced plot at the river side with a mild suggestion of the grass and a number of disassembled houses. It could have been a nice guest-house. We were asked to keep things in tents, because the locals happened to be raiding at night.
Right now the height is about 3800 meters, my body is getting on much better after Tingri.


Acclimatization day and getting ready to start trekking.
That day we had to hire Yaks and Tashi was taking care of it. Unlike the Nepalese, the local people cannot speak a word of English, they have rather peculiar understanding of their duties and decency due to which you can hardly find a common language with them.
Yulia was not feeling well and decided to go to Shigadze where she would wait for us reading books and visiting monasteries.

The first Act of the Mermaison Ballet.

It should be mentioned that a cellphone ceased to function near Kharta, as to satellite communication, the tourist groups are not allowed to use in Tibet. This fact turned to be even more important at 11.00 o’clock when we got prepared with our backpacks to start acclimatization trek and, all of sudden, Tashi had declared that our plan of the trek was not possible to IMPLEMENT.
We took off the backpacks and listened to the guide’s explanation. He was saying that according to the Government’s order (the word “government” Tashi pronounced with aspiration, rolling his eyes up) our trek should have run for 14 days instead of 10, as per our itinerary, in this connection, we ought to have paid for 14 days trek. That was the fact. To prove it, Tashi produced a crumpled sheet of paper covered with Chinese hieroglyphs.
The Chinese language being tough for the group members and cellular connection dead, there was hardly better moment to strike a blow.

I feverishly tried to calculate the prospects of the trek’s prolongation up to 14 days and realized we could do nothing due to the dates booked for the flights Lhasa – Katmandu and Katmandu-Ukraine.
Thunderstruck, I had to remark that the trek itinerary was confirmed 2 months in advance by his firm and it was Tashi’s duty to have us duly notified of the impossibility to carry it out at least one month prior to our arrival. All Tashi had to say was that he himself had learnt the itinerary just in Nialam.
He said he had informed Mingma about it while he was in Nialam. Though we did not hear anything like that from Mingma, it was late to change the number of trek days either in Nialam or in Kharta.

We sat down checking the map and itinerary once again. It appeared that 10 days period was quite sufficient for the trek (leaving one reserve day for the group), nevertheless, Tashi kept on saying it wasn’t. After a while, Tashi made a hint that additional payment for the extra 4 days could have met the government’s order. In the event we might have covered the trek itinerary in lesser number of days, it would have had no bad impact whatsoever. Unless we keep to the order and pay for the extra 4 trek days. That sounded as real extortion.
As a matter of fact, we had roughly calculated the required amount, divided by the number of the group members and decided it was bearable, though stinky.
I wanted to have some kind of guarantee from Tashi, for if we had paid for the 4 days our route should have reached the Eastern wall of Kanchung. There could be no guarantee at all, he replied, because of the possible deep snow, ice and Yaks’ difficulty in moving.
To pay money without any guarantee we had refused and decided to start trekking “as it is”, otherwise we should have stayed idle for 10 day in Kharta.

Heartless, we moved to start acclimatization to the Tarpalin monastery set up at 4100 m altitude. The walk was good. Although the monastery was closed, the team insisted the place was high-powered.


In the morning we waited for the Yaks, by 11.00 o’clock 10 Yaks were delivered while we had paid for 16. According to the rules we should have had 3 Yaks per person.

Tashi babbles that Yaks are scarce in Khrata and these 10 should be enough, there’s no need to worry.
Yulia drove back to Shigadze on our truck, the group began moving to Shao La pass.
We turned to the wrong canyon first (Tashi was busy loading Yaks), then traversed the right path and advanced place of the overnight stay.

A beautiful lake Shao Tso, good sites, plenty of rubbish.

Our caravan outrunning the group on the road, had been evidently overloaded, the Yaks were slow moving, one Yak fell down, the drovers (three of them) had it raised and unloaded. If Yak falls down with packs stuffed with your personal belongings, everything that’s easy to smash is normally getting crushed and broken.
At the result of the fall, Sergey’s baul and its upper cover were punched, his downy sleeping bag torn down.

The Yaks also carry the animals’ food: some hay and straw. They were fed in the camp and tied up near the tents. In the dead of the night the bells on the Yaks’ necks sounded truly harmonious.


After breakfast we packed up and set out reaching the pass at 4970 meters. The track was good, ahead of us a herd of Yaks was crossing the Kama valley going to the pastures; our caravan caught up the group closer to the pass, a little bit of snow did no harm either to us or the Yaks.

We descended on our way to Doksamu (Toksamu, Joksamu). The descent was exhaustive, steep trail along a scree up to the valley of the river running from the pass of Shao La, and then to the place of the overnight stay.

Excellent camping place near the lake with grass for the Yaks. Camp is very dirty, lots of garbage and scorched campfires, no comparison to the camps in Nepal.


The Second Act of the Mermaison Ballet.

In the afternoon Tashi declared that Langma La pass which we had to cross on our way back to Kharta valley was impassable for the Yaks due to big snow. To our question how he learnt about that, the wise Chinese reply was as follows: “Not a single group had crossed the pass this year yet.” We wanted to know whether anyone had tried to do it, but received no clear answer.

We thought it’s only logical that someone has to be the first, but Tashi just ignored it.
There was a group of Chinese tourists near us, by way of fraternizing we found out their trekking itinerary. It appeared that the group was about to trek down the Kama canyon for 4 days and reach the road where jeeps were waiting.

Our effort to discuss with Tashi our chances of repeating the trek of the Chinese group made him fall into a stupor. His answer: you have no permit to trek in the Kama valley.
Our hypothetical assumption: what if somebody gets seriously ill and we shall have to transport him fast, do we have the right to descend?
Tashi’s answer: no way, you will be all arrested at the exit from the valley, then be released, but I shall be arrested and not released, and the firm’s license will be cancelled.
Our turn: “How can we rescue a man, then?”
Tashi’s answer: “I’ll run down to Kharta (one day), take a horse and come back (one day), we transport a man on a horseback over pass Shao La and deliver to Kharta (one day)”.
In one word, there is nothing you can do in Tibet if something happens to you…

Staying for the night we had to sort out the prospects ahead: we can’t descend because we shall be arrested, we can’t reach the Eastern wall, because of the government’s order, we can’t cross the Langma La pass because of the deep snow.
Our question: “What would you suggest, Tashi?” - “Let’s return via Shao La”
Really good prospects ahead: we could return in 2 days, if we go very slow, ultimately trekking for 4 days instead of 10.

Out of frustration my mind picked up the thought about another track from Kama valley to Kharta valley. I have studied lots of different geographic materials prior to this trek, though I should have rather learnt the Tibetan language.

My question: “Tashi, can we go back to Kharta via Chok La pass and Zamchung La pass? They both reach Kharta directly and we shall not need a permit”.
Tashi discussed something with the Yaks’ drovers. It’s quite probable that he asked the guys: “Wanna cross two passes instead of one?” The drovers murmured something in answer.
Again, they might have said the passes were very good and they’re ready to go. Tashi’s translation: “it’s impossible, too much snow”.
To make us feel more “comfortable” he mentioned that last year a group of Italians had not reached even Shao La, advanced the pass and had to go back. Pursuing his logic, we had to enjoy the other people’s failure.
We couldn’t have enjoyed it: 4 years of dreaming, lots of preparation, the time lost, considerable amount of money spent – it had not improved our moods.

We have covered just 2 out of 10 paid trekking days and decided to go to Tangsum, thus, we should have had a chance to see our dream of the dreams, the Kanchung wall of Everest, from the distance. In any case, from there it is possible to return via Shao La. Tashi made a face full of doubt, but had to agree with us.

One of the Chinese group members had a satellite telephone and he gave us permission to make a call. The clouds in the valley were very low and jammed our desperate voices. We had not managed to get through to anyone.


Trek to Tangsum. First of all sharp ascending, then smooth and nice trail. On our way up we met a Chinese tourist running down alone.
“Where are you from, dear?”
“From the Langma La pass, of course”, he answered. “What about the pass? Is it good for passage?” – we insisted. “It’s in excellent condition, nothing is wrong about it: almost no snow, it's dry and nice to go».
After this conversation we were feeling much better returning to the camp. The next camping was arranged too soon, in 4 hours.
“Why, Tashi, there is still 2 hours going to Tangsum?” – “Yaks will have nothing to eat there”, he responded.
Finally, there was no doubt that Yaks’ food could not last for 10 days and in this connection Tashi was trying to cut the length of the trek.

The Third Act of the Mermaison Ballet.

“I say, Tashi, now you see we can cross the pass Langma La, after all, a young Chinese has just passed it”- I said.
Tashi’s wise and smart answer: “A man might cross the pass, but Yaks might not”.
Thereby, Yaks were more important in this trek, and people seemed to be for the benefit of the Yaks, not vice versa.
That evening, having discussed the situation, we took the following decision: to ascend the Langma La pass and go in the direction of the Shurim Tso lake, we could estimate the condition of the pass on the spot and take a final decision. Tashi in his turn suggested we should cross the pass without cargo in case it was impassable for the Yaks, then descend to the valley of Kharta, while Yaks would go back through Shao La. It would take about 3 days for the Yaks, during that time the group had to stay in a flophouse at Kharta waiting for the Yaks carrying food and luggage.
I shall be not surprised to learn that the owner of a flophouse offered Tashi bakshish for our stay.


At last, we reached Tangsum, from its ridge a breathtaking view of the Kanchung wall of Everest had finally opened up for us. To the left there was a hanging wall of Chomolonzo and some other beautiful and unknown mountains.

It was awesome, we all had been admiring its severe beauty for an hour at least. Deep down, at a glance, I could see Petang camp to which Tashi refused to go due to ice and big snow.

As a matter of fact, the camp site was clean, without any trace of snow.
“Where is ice and snow, Tashi? – I asked. You can’t just imagine what he had to answer, our cute and resourceful Tashi.
- Oh, yes, there is no snow, but there is plenty of stones, the Yaks could get stuck and break their legs. And we shall have to pay for that, Yaks are so expensive”.

My response: xxxxxx (not to be translated)

So, we continued moving to the camp near the Langma La pass. All at once, to our greatest surprise, a caravan of Yaks came running down from the pass, facing us all of a sudden.
That was a real blow for Tashi, he had no other arguments. Nevertheless, he had left the camp pretending to scout a route to the pass, he might have walked it a little bit to explore, or quite possibly he just rested a while under a stone and ran back with good news: the pass was passable! Who would doubt it!
The way Tashi declared the news made the impression as though he himself had been digging a trench for the Yaks in deep snow and cutting imaginary steps for the people.


2 hours climb to the pass; the Yaks outran the group almost on approach to the pass and gladly went on home raising dust on their way to the Kharta valley. Technically, the pass is not difficult, although the altitude over 5300 meters makes itself felt.
There was a bit of firn on approach, but not deep and quite durable, for the joy of Yaks and people.

On the pass we spent about an hour: taking photos, filming, dancing, hoisting the flag of Ukraine over the highest rock in vicinity. For all that, I haven’t heard of anyone from the former Soviet Union ascending to this pass. A trifle, but …
Descending the pass by secure good path, over a little bit of scree and along the shore of the frozen lake. In this way we reached the camp site with the driveway connection.

That’s all, the trek has been completed. In 5 days instead of 10. So soon not because we are outrunners, but due to being cheated. It is really offensive for all of us.


Jeeps have arrived. We said “good bye” to the Yaks’ drovers happy for the saved time of the trek and even happier cooks carrying to Kathmandu 5-days reserve of the group’s food and started off to Shigadze.

The road was tedious, stunning with that particular severe beauty of Tibet and a very tall mountain pass which had been attacked by the next group of bicyclists. In the afternoon we reached asphalt road and soon arrived at Shigadze. As long as we had plenty of time now, our plan was to spend a day in Shigadze.
A monastery, a restaurant, hot shower and going to bed.

At the restaurant I saw my old inscription and the “Third Pole’s” emblem. It seems I have been here before. I very much doubt that I should wish to come to this place once again, but things can happen…



The group set out to Lhasa. We are hectic to change our tickets for the earlier departure from Kathmandu. It is relieving to state that we have managed to change the departure date from Lhasa for all seven people. Travelling individually is not possible here since we have group’s permit and visa.
Our way went through Giantze and the Yamdrok lake, we came to Lhasa in the evening.


The Russian speaking Chinese girl named Masha was taking us for the tour of Lhasa and Potalu, by the way, I wished I could understand the language she was speaking to us. As to me, I had no desire of going to Potalu.
Actually, I do not like the monasteries they show to the tourists in Tibet nowadays. These are rather museum exponents, than monasteries, intended to pump out money from tourists, a kind of attraction for the exalted followers of - allegedly - Buddhism.

After lunch we went to the office of Mr. Donglei to meet him. He had hardly had the slightest wish to see us, nevertheless, it was imperative request of “7 SUMMITS” from Kathmandu which made him meet us.
The entire group has come to express our claims and pretensions to Mr. Donglei. Due to the fact that "TIBET KYUNGLUNG TRAVEL SERVICE", headed by Donglei, violated the itinerary of our trek to the Kanchung wall and did not fulfill the firm’s obligations, we demanded a compensation of the funds prepaid.

Mr.Donglei made a show of his not knowing what had happened to us, he insisted that Tashi was responsible for all the mess. He was shouting at Tashi, pounding on the table with his fists, rolling his eyes up etc. etc. One would think it was not Donglei to whom Tashi had been calling ten times a day to reconcile each move and action.

However, Donglei refused to refund money. His key phrase was: “Many of you tried to get a compensation, but to demand a refund of the total amount – no one dared to.”

Our question: “Mr.Donglei, why your firm did not fulfill the itinerary confirmed by you?”

His answer: “Did I confirm it? It’s the first time I can actually see it. If this itinerary was agreed with highly experienced “7 SUMMITS”, it should be workable, there is no need to check it”.

Our question: “Why your guide declared that trek is not workable at the last moment, but not for 2 months prior to our arrival?”

His answer: “A guide was on holidays and saw the itinerary in Nialam for the first time”
Our question: “Why did we pay for 10-days trek while we were trekking just 5 days?”
His answer: “And why are you so fast trekking?”
Our question: “Why did we pay for 16 Yaks and got only 10 Yaks?”
No answer, hot discussion in Chinese language with Tashi.

Since Donglei had refused to refund money I promised to bring him some troubles.

First of all, I will post this story on the Russian - and English language web-sites covering treks in Tibet, - I’ll be much obliged for re-posting.
That got some impact, Donglei contacted “7 SUMMITS” to find out whether I was actually exaggerating.

“7 SUMMITS” confirmed that the “Third Pole” Club was not appropriate for cheating.


Early in the morning Tashi kept his watch near the hotel. He made an attempt to give me 10.000 Yuan (equal to USD 1600) as refund for the Yaks and hotel in Lhasa (we did not stay at the hotel Donglei had booked for us there).
I asked him: “Did you steal the money trying to whitewash yourself or are you sent by Donglei?”

He said Donglei had sent him, and I was asked to sign a receipt and confirm in the letter that I had no claims to his firm from my side.
My suggestion was he should be looking for another job.

In the afternoon Donglei appeared himself accompanied by a man apparently familiar with the name “Dzerzhinsky” (name of the famous KGB Chief). He was introduced as Donglei’s “senior” guide, the way he was treated by Donglei made it clear “who was who”.
The man was speaking good Russian and tried to confuse us with demagogic sayings like “it were you to choose the route, it were you to agree with changes, it were you to trek 5 days instead of 10” etc.
The group members got excited by these sayings, it was my impression that the man provoked us for some kind of violation to be able to finish with “we forgive you, you forgive us”.

Once again I promised to sort out the problems and bring troubles to them, but a mere question “Are you going to fly home tomorrow?” made me sober (do you remember there were visa errors in the names of 2 persons?), so, I decided to take actions after our return to Ukraine.
When parting, after mutual excuses, the man admitted he served at the Consulate of China in Russia. He did not mention his name or what was his position.


We were lucky to fly to Kathmandu on board of the half-empty plane, the tickets for which were ultimately not possible to get 2 months ago. The flight was 2 hours behind the schedule due to thunderstorm in Kathmandu. The Monsoon started.
Prior to going home, people from the group visited office of “7 SUMMITS” to tell their sad story.

I also met Loben Sherpa who murmured something like “cheapest is the dearest”, and warned me for the future to have treks in Tibet properly and reliably arranged, but this is another story.


As the last stroke of black colour for me, came the news of the fire in the best bookstore of Kathmandu – “PILGRIMS HOUSE”. Thousands of books including the rare editions of the Colonial times, antics, old maps and atlases, books on travel and photographs with signatures of outstanding mountaineers, collections of stamps and envelopes, a cozy restaurant – everything was lost in fire…

I am really sad and sorry about that, I have brought home so many books from this bookstore, always dreaming of many more ….