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One of the many problems you will encounter if you try to find your way through China is, that things are renamed or have the same name. This post is about the Shi Ka snow mountain located approx 10km west of Shangri-La.
The Shika mountain is located approx 10km west of Shangri-La. The trail head is accessible by Taxi (less than 50 RMB) - tell the driver to drop you off at the cable car entrance. We were told, that it is very uncommon to do the hike without using the cable car. In fact, if you are spotted by guards on the mountain summit, they might force you to pay the hefty entrance fee of 200 RMB per person, even if you walked up. And will force you to take the cable car down. So our strategy as to hike under the radar. This is the path we took:
When looking at the cable car, you will see several trails and dirt roads running to the left (south). Take the steep path that passes a concrete block (image below) up to the rim of the valley.
From here, the path widens because it is used by Yak farmers to bring the animals up and down the mountain. Continue following the trail and you will pass a small stone oven with Tibetan flags. Several paths are crossing here, but head straight. The path will lead you down into a valley with Yak farms and the cable car middle station.
It will look like you are heading straight for the cable car station, but it should be fine to continue the path since it will curve left, securing your cover. When arriving at the level of the valley, follow the dirt road to the left. After 1.6km, the road will turn right into another valley. Keep following the road for another 4km until the end.
Here you will find an unmaintained path that was part of the network around the cable car mountain station. After following the stairs for 400 meters, you will see a small lake, which might be hidden under snow in winter or dried out in summer. After another 350m the path on the map forks. I recommend you keep following the stairs for 400m, where the make a 90 degree right turn. You see a small hill on your left. Leave the stairs behind you and walk between the hill and the mountain on your right. Try to follow existing paths made by the Yaks or other hikers to not disturb the flora too much. You will hit the path from the form after 600 or 800 meters. Follow it to the right until you see a chance to make a sharp right turn onto the back of the mountain.
Keep climbing for another 600 meters and you will arrive at a small Stupa-like stone hill with a flag on top.
This is the goal of this trip. You should be good, not to be caught by guards. On the way back, after descending from the mountain’s back, you can choose to follow the path as it is mapped on OSM and join the stairs after 1km. This section might be very muddy though.
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