icons/avalancheicons/bootscompassfacebookicons/gloveshandsicons/hearticons/helmeticons/ice axeinstagramminusmountainicons/pathsMap Pinplusicons/questionicons/guideicons/ropeicons/gogglesicons/stafftenttwitteryoutube
Everest with Mountain Madness

Mustang Trek — High Altitude Desert

All pho­tos by Deana Zabaldo

Upper Mus­tang is most­ly a high alti­tude desert — an expan­sive, end­less sea of land at rough­ly 12,000 feet. Den­drit­ic canyons fan out across miles. Plateaus with scrub brush end abrupt­ly in flut­ed columns erod­ed by weath­er and time. Caves are every­where — some ancient habi­tats, some trea­suries of Bud­dhist art and scrip­ture, some emp­ty and nev­er known. Wind and sun define the landscape. 

Cave dwellings in the red demon’s blood cliffs — peo­ple lived in caves through­out the area moer than 2500 years ago. 

Rock comes in forty vari­eties, and cliffs reveal sed­i­men­ta­ry lay­ers now upend­ed and near­ly ver­ti­cal. These moun­tains were once the bot­tom of the pri­mor­dial Tethys Sea, sep­a­rat­ing India from Chi­na. We find 250 mil­lion year old ammonite fos­sils in the riv­er bed — sea crea­tures turned to stone and raised to the top of the world as earth­’s tec­ton­ic plates collided. 

One side of a val­ley is green with low foliage where rain drops as it meets the moun­tain peaks; the fac­ing side of the val­ley is dry and dusty, devoid of rain. Where rivers flow, they are chan­nelled to irri­gate trees and fields, to sup­port the green­ery of life. Where water is dry­ing up, a whole town is mov­ing away, unable to sur­vive. Old adobe chort­ens and homes stand in smooth ruins, tes­ta­ment to the pres­sures of nature and the resilience of humans here.

~ MM Guide Deana Zabaldo

Next Mus­tang blog

Pre­vi­ous Mus­tang blog