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Lunatics in Bhutan

Steve Berry, Mountain Kingdoms MD, describes his experience in Bhutan, trekking the full length of Bhutan's mountains on the Complete Lunana Snowman trek, something only a handful of westerners have ever achieved.

The Gophu La. Photo courtesy of N Sloman

Steve Berry, Mountain Kingdoms MD, describes his experience in Bhutan, trekking the full length of Bhutan's mountains on the Complete Lunana Snowman trek, something only a handful of westerners have ever achieved.

"It was 1988 and five companions and I had travelled to Bhutan to attempt the 250 mile trek (and second British crossing) through the most remote region in the whole of Bhutan, an area on the far northern border called Lunana.

We felt euphoric at having come so far, yet nervous about the crossing of the Gophu La in two days time. We had heard from our Bhutanese friends that the crossing was extremely arduous, even in good conditions, and it having rained for much of the last three days in the valleys, we were very worried there would be deep snow on top of the pass and that it would be impossible to plough through.

The day of the crossing arrived, and dawned clear, hoare frost covered the ground and snowy peaks encompassed our camp. Our porters had slept in the open, cuddled together under a pile of blankets. Perfectly still lakes bounced their reflections into our overworked cameras. We walked across a high remote land, breathing crisp clear air. In perfect silence each fresh peak, lake, crag or distant vista marched past us until a peak some four thousand feet higher than those around us dominated the horizon. It seemed to shine a more brilliant white, a piece of land elevated to a higher, purer plane, its complex, awesomely steep defences safeguarding it from the touch of man. This was Gangkar Punsum, highest mountain in Bhutan. As the day passes she shyly drew clouds around her flanks and was lost to our bedazzled gaze."

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