Hike the Kora around Yading's Mt. Chenresig (仙乃日)

Ganzi Zangzuzizhizhou, China



18 miles

Elevation Gain

3444.9 ft

Route Type



Added by Kyle Obermann

Complete the 1-2 day revolution of holy Mt. Chenresig, 6032m. Glacial lakes; ridiculous views; more prayer flags than you can count. 

Kora: the Tibetan word for “revolution,” often referring to a holy pilgrimage circumambulating a sacred site or object in a clockwise direction.

This route is the traditional kora of Mt. Chenresig (仙乃日), the Tibetan name for “compassion.” This is Yading’s highest peak, and the route will take you past three stunning glacial lakes, over two 4700m+ passes, under the face of another holy peak, and through countless prayer flags. It can be done as either a relaxing two day trek or a hard one day push. For a trail runner well-adjusted to altitude it could also make a spectacular run.

The route starts the same as if you were to hike to Milk and Five Color Lake. It will take you right between these two lakes on your way to the first pass. Stopping at both lakes to take in the view is highly recommended. They are also great spots for a lunch break.

To get to the lakes start from Chonggu (冲古寺) Monastery and go to Luorong Pasture (落绒牛场). To get here you can either walk 6km on the boarded pathways or take a ~20minute electric cart for 80RMB round trip or 50RMB one way. From Luorong it is about a 300-400m ascent over 5k to Milk and Five Color Lake, at elevations 4480m and 4530m respectively. Both lakes lie in glacial bowls at the intersection between holy Mt. Jamelyang (5958m) and Mt. Chenresig (6032m).

Passing the right side of Milk Lake, you should be able to see a clear trail leading up to a large shallow pass. The pass is approximately 1 mile away and 4700m high. It’s a good idea to rest well at these two lakes before this ascent. Many people choose to camp at these lakes, although many sources say this is not allowed and LNT principles should be followed always (camp at least 200m from lakes and streams).

Your safest bet is to camp on the backside of the pass, where after crossing over the pass follow the path fork right (since you are clockwise circling Chenresig and always want it to be on your right). You are now hiking due north, around Chenresig’s “backside.” The trail will gradually descend and pass an alpine lake on the left, and continue in an hour or so down to an abandoned stone hut on a flat, small pasture. There is a stream here. This is probably the easiest campsite and puts you in good position for completing the kora the next day.

After this first hut, the trail continues to wrap around the west face of Chenresig heading north. It gradually rises and falls, but feels pretty flat in general. You will wrap around two large spurs coming from Chenresig’s west face until you get to the final pass at 4750m. This section can feel long, and we only encountered one flowing water source here until after we descended the pass. Hydrate well before you leave camp and when you reach the stream.

From the final pass, which is marked by a spectacular tunnel of prayer flags, it is a quick 600m+ descent down to the base of Chenresig and Pearl Lake (珍珠海) at 4140m. From Pearl Lake, simply follow the main, sign-marked tourist paths back down to Chonggu Monastery. 

Bonus: For added difficulty, there is a higher and much more strenuous pass you can take from Five Color Lake leading down to the stone hut campsite. This pass is only recommended for people very comfortable on hard scree and heights. From Five Color Lake, follow the ridge ascending on the lake’s south shore (opposite Chenresig). There are some carins here, and a faint trail that disappears the higher and steeper you ascend. There is a small col. at the top, which more resembles a small notch and shoot, and it is at 4905m. From this notch, you should have a clear view of the scree descending over 300m down to the rocky basin below. If you do not have a clear view do not descend. The first part is very steep and the scree is very hard and unpleasant to go down. Once safely down the slope, you must scramble through and down a large bowl-like boulder field to get to the first hut and field. This route offers spectacular views and fun for those who like a challenge, but should not be attempted by those unfamiliar with steep, rocky terrain and route finding.

For more information on the Yading area and kora, go here

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