• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    9.9 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    6561.7 Feet


Ox Heart Mountainrises above the colorful plains of Qinghai Province, giving 360views of the surrounding peaks and landscape: the breadbasket ofnorthwest China.

FromXining, Qinghai Province's main airport and city, take the bus 6~hours to Qilian Town (祁连县).The bus ticket is 58RMB and the first one leaves at 8:15am everyday.There are multiple buses every day.

From the SE end ofthe Qilian (near the main town square) head almost due south,following the patchwork of small roads through the town until youreach a main road (small, but the only one) that leads up towards themountain to a concrete lookout spot above many of the fields andpastures. From here, head in a more SE direction to the top of theforest along its western edge, where the ground flattens out andthere are some nice camping spots in pasture at around 3200m rightabove the treeline. There are some seasonal springs coming from theground as well in the area. If you are looking at Google Maps, thiscampsite is approximately directly due south from the center of thetown and right south (~100m above) the far southwest corner of theforest before a large, dry, gully feature.

From this campsite,you have two options to ascend: head further east to the crest of thesmall ridge at which the other side the gully plummets down, and thenhead up through the thick and annoying brush along the ridge; or,head straight up the steep slope almost directly south of you, which,although is quite steep, is a lot more clear than the ridge line.Follow these ridges upwards keeping the large gully to the east ofyou and eventually there is a large grassy bowl before the finalscree slope ascent to the peak. The bowl is at approximately 3880mand makes for great camping and has some small streams as long asthere is snow melting from the peak.

From the bowl, it isa steep, scree scramble ascent to the peak heading slightly SWstraight up a scree face and then turning slightly back SE towardsthe summit at 4667m. There is a “false” summit at 4353m whichmakes a good resting point. No technical gear is needed, but goodscrambling skills are essential at some parts and it is very steep. It's slightly dangerous, and the route should be not attempted without previous experience.

Pack List

  • 50L backpack
  • Food for 2-3 days
  • Water purifier
  • Winter clothes
  • Tough gloves
  • Sturdy trekking pole
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Kyle Obermann Explorer

China Environmental and Adventure Photographer || 探险中国 || Speak Chinese to Protect Nature @kyleobermann

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