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Debut Tsum Valley Trek 2012

Deana Zabal­do photo

Tsum Val­ley is idyl­lic, the quin­tes­sen­tial Shangri-La con­jured in Himalayan dreams. Snowy moun­tains in the dis­tance, women in Tibetan dress har­vest­ing mil­let or bar­ley in the field, stone hous­es in small clus­ters, chort­ens all along the trail, dozens of small monas­ter­ies, chil­dren with sun­burnt cheeks and run­ny noses full of curios­i­ty, men ush­er­ing yak car­a­vans to Tibet for trade, women spin­ning yak wool into yarn on drop spin­dles, and at times the world is qui­et like you can­not imag­ine — only the sound of wind to break the night. We’ve stepped into anoth­er world.

Women har­vest­ing mil­let in a field. Deana Zabal­do photo

Woman spin­ning wool into yarn on a drop spin­dle. Deana Zabal­do photo

We walked 5 days from the end of the road to reach the edge of Tsum Val­ley at Sardii Gorge. A gen­er­a­tion ago, the high trail was a nar­row and dan­ger­ous route over the moun­tain. Huge boul­ders made the low route impass­able for mil­len­nia until final­ly they were blast­ed out to make a trail. Before that, the val­ley was large­ly seclud­ed from the world below and most­ly trad­ed across the Himalayas with Tibet. Even once you enter Tsum, it’s a stiff climb through steep, rugged ter­rain and the poor­er vil­lages of Low­er Tsum eking out a liv­ing on sub­sis­tence agri­cul­ture to Upper Tsum, where the val­ley opens into a broad expanse. Here the fields spread wide, the vil­lages are larg­er, and the peo­ple are engaged in farm­ing, herd­ing, and trading.

~ MM Guide Deana Zabaldo

The broad val­ley and fields of Upper Tsum. Choekam­paro vil­lage and Boud­dha Himal range. Deana Zabal­do photo

Yak on the trail. Deana Zabal­do photo

Shar­ing some snacks in the after­noon. Deana Zabal­do photo

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