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China: Zheduo pass

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Zheduo pass | China | Asia

[Visited: September 2006]

We had seen some snow from a distance when we drove over Balang pass a few days before, and it certainly was cold for the time of year. When we woke up to a fresh white layer of snow on the hills just behind our pension that morning, we knew we would see more of it later that day, since we had to cross Zheduo mountain pass on our way to Kangding. In the beginning, we drove in valleys that had a heavy blanket of grey clouds over them, effectively blocking our view over the landscape, where we had hoped to see the majestic mountains we knew were right behind the clouds.

Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Tibetan house on our way to Zheduo pass

We had some brief stops on our way, quickly taking pictures and cursing the weather that had been so bad for us these last days. We had not seen one mountain peak other than those we saw in the beautiful picture books we had studied, and this last day did not seem to be any better. Now, as the jeep climbed up, we were at least sure that we would see the first snow of the season, in the second week of September. When it came, it came suddenly; at first, we saw some delicate white patches scattered in the landscape, but soon, we were driving in a white landscape. The road went always higher from here, and the landscape even whiter. At a certain point, the wheels of the jeep started to spin without having any grip on the road, and then the jeep started to skid towards the edge of the road.

Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Zheduo pass: jeep stuck on the slippery snow

We did not hesitate and left the jeep, wondering why the driver would continue to give full throttle, which only resulted in snow being hurled into the air, and the jeep skidding even closer to the edge. Quickly, on both sides a traffic jam started to develop, with many puzzled stares at our 4WD stuck in the snow. Only after I pointed to the 4WD handle did the driver explain in signs that that did not work, which made us wonder even more - for days, we had thought to be in a safe car on bad roads. We put stones behind the back wheels, and taught the driver how to put on snow chains on a snowy mountain road. When we finally were able to board the car again, we were very cold, shaking, and our hands seemed icycles. We soon thereafter reached the top of Zheduo pass at around 4200m.

Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Curves of Zheduo pass seen from above
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Yaks on the slopes of Zheduo pass looked after by a yakherd
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Winter landscape on Zheduo pass: an early winter in September
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Bunker like construction on our way up to Zheduo pass
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Snowy white and foggy landscape on our way to Zheduo pass
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Man who came in from the Cold: Tibetan walking up Zheduo pass
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Guide warming his feet using the exhaust pipe of the jeep
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Top of Zheduo pass at 4200m, covered in snow
Picture of Zheduo pass (China): Zheduo pass: traffic jam for unprepared drivers in September

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