One push and we'll all be tumbling down from 4000m

Hi, My name is Dan, and this is Week 8 of my TFI-ALP journey in China. If you’ve missed the past few blogs (again, and I have to mention it every week, there’s really no point in reading them), click here.

Hihi, this week do what ah?

Well, if you’ve been following my fellow blogger, Mr. Alexander James Fonseca, you’d know we went to Sichuan this week!

In fact, his blog has so much stuff that I’m just plain lazy to cover, including our 14-hour train trip(yeah it’s like airplanes don’t exist amirite), our stay in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan(I’ve been to Chengdu before so it’s really nothing new), and our adventures with the 外卖 here (TLDR: It’s good).

Instead, I wish I can just link his blog here and I’ll be done with my work for the week. Click here to start your adventures on his blog. It’s a three(soon-to-be-four)-parter so you’ll be plenty entertained.

Ok so blog over?

Nah, I wish it could be so easy, Alex has covered so much stuff, but I still have some parts of the trip that I hold close to myself. The highlight of the trip, my trip up Mount Siguinang(that’s 4 ladies in Chinese).

We hired a bus driver to drive us up the mountains blablablabla(story too bland, just zone this out).

The only highlight of that was some of the surrounding rock formations fell due to heavy rainfall, blocking the road and thus extending the drive for all of us.

The worst thing is? Although it’s the monsoon season, that week was the only week that had rained on the mountains, according to our hostel hosts.

It also seems like quite a bad sign for our trip up the mountains.

Just a preface, I’ve been to Mt Siguninang before, namely, last December when I was climbing the 1st peak(also known as Dafeng) with my Mountaineering crew in SUTD, so I was familiar with the trek and the environment.

Rain still go up mountains ah?

I think it wouldn’t be wrong to say, generally, it’s a bad idea to climb when it’s raining, or there’s chance of rain. For a few reasons in Siguniang especially. I’ll be listing this out in excruciating detail for my uninterested readers because I like it.

Reason number 1.

The Siguniang trail is heavily used by porters, often carrying supplies up to base camp or hoisting tourists who are interested in just a hike around the ridgeline of the mountain(this means they just go up a bit and come down, generally it’s just a day trip).

Guess what the porters use to carry stuff?

That’s right they use Horses. That make a lot of imprints in the already worn trail.

So with the combination with some fresh rainwater, it also means a super muddy trail with almost unavoidable mud treks sometimes lasting for hundreds of meters.

It also means that you better have waterproof boots and be comfortable with mud. My friend, Chen Ran didn’t have waterproof boots because she was foolish and bought a cheap pair off Taobao that turned out pretty bad at resisting water.

Reason number 2.

Yeah so you know when you go up to high altitudes(we started our trek at around 3000m above sea level), you get altitude sickness because of low oxygen levels in the air.

Yeah since I already knew I was quite reliant on oxygen(I came here, I knew I would have a hard time climbing the mountain) I decided to take extra time climbing the trail and not overexerting myself.

Yes everyone needs oxygen, but I think my large stature also means that I would need more oxygen in my body. The last time I came to Mt Siguniang, I needed a few days to recover from Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS(Which generally is the fact that you’re not used to the low oxygen levels).

Yeah, so everything is just more taxing on the mountains. The extra cold and wetness during the rain just made it worse. (BTW never let yourself get wet there, it’s really the cause of a lot of problems)

Reason number 3.

Your equipment matters.

A good pair of boots means the cold and wetness don’t seep in.

A good pair of sunglasses means you’re not blinded by the Sun, especially if it’s snowy.

A good layering system also means that you are always at the perfect temperature (not for me).

A waterproof outer layer means you don’t shiver in the cold as much.

Most of these problems wouldn’t be problems if it didn’t rain. You won’t get wet when its raining right? (unless you sweat a lot like me)

Well, it rained and I had to pass my jacket to Chen Ran because she didn’t expect to need a waterproof layer for the hike up to the base camp.

And I got wet 🙁

Ok, you can start reading from here.

After a painful day trek to the base camp, we arrived and set up camp. We were going for the Second Peak this time(I went for the first peak the last time I was here), it’s a more challenging peak with a more steep ascent to the summit. I was very tired because I still wasn’t done acclimatizing to the altitude. Before we actually set up our tent, we were given the choice to rent one of the houses(some brick buildings) for the night, so we could be sheltered from the incoming rain and wind.

We declined.

I also woke up with a wet sleeping bag.

Well I think those two lines pretty much summarized how bad the weather conditions were.

In case you didn’t get it, it was POURING. We were supposed to go for our summit push at 4am.

When I woke up at 11pm, I thought it was just a litle bit of rain, we could still summit the next day.

12am, rain.

1am, rain

2am, rain

3am, rain with the heavy wind going WHOOSH WHOOSH.

And thus I decided that it wouldn’t be good going for a summit push in the weather conditions that were presented to me.

I later learned that it was a good choice. At our lunch point, we met a fellow hiker who had decided to go ahead with the summit push, he had to turn back at the icy terrain because of the heavy snowfall.

I credit myself for my smartness (and also laziness, but SHUSH) for not doing the summit push.

Huh so sian ah? Didn’t manage to hit the summit.

Well, although I didn’t manage to hit the summit, the hike to base camp was still as beautiful as I remember it, I’ll share some photos that I took of the same places just to show the differences in Summer and Winter.

Frozen rivers that mountaintops all have

 

Ice has all melted off, showing off the tributaries into the river below
Budget snow-capped mountains?
No-snow capped mountains

 

No prizes for guessing which is in which season.

So this trip was a failure?

I think the trip was a time for introspect and reflection. Hours of walking with only your thoughts to entertain you.

I’ll just share this train of thought that I had been entertaining for a while.

Sometimes stuff just fails, and it’s totally out of your control. Sometimes maybe it’s you. Oftentimes it’s hard to discern between the two groups. Growing up, I don’t think I had a lot of opportunities to shine, and I think it’s all my fault. Responsibilities always were shirked, work was always procrastinated and expectations were always disappointed.

I think I’ve grown up in a culture of accepting failure too much, so much so that sometimes I expect failure before the task is even tried.

In Cheerleading, sometimes the stunt fails because the people executing the stunt were already expecting it to fail in the first place, I think that onus is on me most of the time.

It’s a fault of mine, and it’ll remain a fault until I decide to do something about it.

What was that

My replacement for the HASS section for the week, I think it’s somewhat relevant since we didn’t manage to climb Siguniang this time.

For the rest of the trip, we did some traveling in the Tibetian Plateau, here and some cool photos that I snapped for the rest of the trip.

A Tibetan village visible off in the far distance from our bus
A photo of Mt Yala, a mountain rich in Tibetan culture
Tibetan flags on the side of a mountain, some had greetings to tourists.

 

Tibetan prayer flags

 

Many thanks to my fellow travelers, Ben and May for the photos because I’m lazy and didn’t snap many.

 

I’ll be ending off the blog here, as always, I’ll catch you next week.

-Dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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