It was a good mid-April day when we set out from Lijiang. The weather hovered around 17 degrees Celsius. The drive out was pretty mountainous but scenic and at this last stretch really close to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain(Yulong Mountain) it was surprisingly desert like. My Naxi driver Lao Yang told me there was a dry spell and it has not been raining for months.
We finally arrived at the Yulong Mountain Natural Reserve Scenic Zone and upon paying entrance fees, proceeded to watch the ‘Lijiang Impression’ show created by famous Chinese film director Zhang Yimou. This grand scaled outdoor performance features a large cast made up of the different minority groups like Lisuo, Naxi, Bai, Dai, Mosuo and Han set to dramatic music which showcases their cultural diversity in song and dance. We sat through the entertaining 1 hour show under the hot, blazing sun; so be forewarned that a hat or cap would be useful as no brollies are allowed throughout the performance. We paid RMB190.00 for the VIP seats but I reckon the gallery seats priced at RMB105.00 would suffice and is value for money as the view is equally good.
We drove a distance up the mountain roads to the Yulong Mountain Cablecar station and up, up and away we go.
The Naxi people venerate Yulong Mountain as a holy place because of an archaic legend that tells of how Yulong and Haba Mountains were a brave pair of twins who fought off a fiend and protected the people from harm. Haba died in the fray leaving behind Yulong who was wearing 13 swords standing guard day and night. As time passed the brothers turned into 2 snow mountains and the swords into 13 peaks.
These 13 peaks are all over 4000m in altitude and are snowcapped all year round.
It was freezing cold up here and we hurriedly put on our extra sweaters, gloves, scarves, capes and zipped up to keep warm. We braced ourselves for cold therapy!
I have never been on a mountain this high and it was a great feeling especially knowing the fact that I did not have to climb up here physically. Will have to admit that I am not a mountaineering enthuse and I am happy to be whizzed up here in a jiffy.
From this vantage point, I was beginning to appreciate the height and get a sense of what the numbers meant.
I was going to attempt to climb right to the top of the walkway and it should not prove too difficult if I took my time and paced myself nicely. It would be great to capture some photos and catch a glimpse of the view on the other side of the mountain as well.
It was cold and windy and my nose was a little stuffy but it paled in comparison to the vista before me. With the bright sun shining on the pure white snow, the view is just beautiful beyond words.
This is the main valley glacier on Yulong Mountain. This monsoonal-temperate glacier is characterized by heavier snowfall accumulation in winter, greater ablation in summer and faster motivation in Yunnan’s subtropical monsoon climate.
This ice mass formed by snowfall accumulation, compression and freezing in the high mountains over many years moves slowly downwards with the effects of gravity and erosion by the wind and rain forms these crevasses.
The ascent was not as easy as I imagined. Every couple of steps would leave me panting and my pulse would be racing. I was trying to focus on finishing the climb and not let the high altitude and thin air literally get to my head. We brought along canisters of oxygen and started whiffing them at intervals.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a sanctuary for rare animals and wild plants. The habitat of about 400 types of trees and 30 animals species, this area is protected by the state.
A splitting headache was beginning to bother me and after some deliberation, I decided to abort the ultimate climb. I was contented with my record of 4571m and a bit and it was not worth risking altitude sickness that might ruin my entire trip.
The whole trip up and down Yulong Mountain took 4 hours and it was only then I realised that we were moving at the pace of a slow lorus throughout but what an amazing experience it was to meet the challenge of the elements and the mountain. I survived Jade Dragon Snow Mountain!