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Friday, 23 November 2018

Trip report for Lunana Snowman in Bhutan led by Almas Khan in September/ October 2018

Photo: Gophu La pass on exit from Lunana

This is the tenth time The Mountain Company has organised the Complete Lunana Snowman trek in Bhutan. Our Snowman 2018 group successfully made the full traverse from Paro through Lunana out to Bumthang. The Mountain Company has 100% track record of organising this challenging 28 day trek through the remote Bhutanese Himalaya.

This year we had eleven trekkers signed up for Lunana Snowman and like in previous years this group was an international mix with people coming from UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands.

For 2018 Snowman our international leader, Almas Khan, worked with our regular Bhutanese guides Tashi and Tsering Dorje. Nawang worked as our third guide and he has learnt a lot from working with our regular crew so we hope to work with him again on Snowman next year.

The cook, Tandim Sonam, and his kitchen helpers did a superb job and we have received positive feedback from the group on the quality and quantity of food. We have worked hard over last few years increasing the food provisions for Snowman. In Summer 2017 we imported a food dehydrator machine from USA into Bhutan and this has help increase the quantity of vegetables supplied whilst on a long and remote trek like the Snowman trek.

Photo: view from Karchung La on entry to Lunana

Almas summarises how Snowman 2019 went from his perspective as the leader of the group:

“This was another fantastic Lunana Snowman trek. Overall the trip went well, with all of the group completing the complete journey in good health. All loved the food on the trek catered for by cook Tandim Sonam. After we reached Lingshi till Narethang we experienced some cloudy days which limited our views but we were fortunate to experience overall much less precipitation this year. The day crossing Karchung La we had sterling clear views and this continued for the rest of the trip out to Bumthang. Overall the weather was very good compared to my previous nine Snowman treks. The Bhutanese staff did a super job and the training is paying off. Having the opportunity to work with the same crew on all of my Snowman treks has made it possible to bring about positive change to the service we offer to our clients on trek in Bhutan.”

As Almas says overall the weather and conditions for Snowman 2018 were favourable. The timing of this trek is very important in order to increase the chances of successfully completing the full traverse from Paro to Bumthang. From organising Snowman trek ten times since 2008 we have developed a good understanding for the optimal time to start the trek. By the last week of September the monsoon should be winding down and this places the group in Lunana around mid-October hopefully before the winter snows block the exit passes out to Bumthang.

Throughout our Lunana Snowman trek we receive bespoke weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and this information is sent through to Almas on his satellite phone. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.

We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and this year we have started using Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for our Lunana Snowman 2018 trek .

We made one change to the logistics for this year’s Snowman trek by changing our horses at Laya whereas last year we took horses from Paro all the way through to Bumthang. Almas told me that the horsemen from Laya have strong, healthy horses and in the years we took horses from Laya all the way we noticed the horses got tired by the end of the trek.

Photo: view from Kesha La
I have copied below feedback received from one member of Snowman 2018 group now published on AITO review site:

“Well organised with great attention to detail, pre, during and post trek. The crew were top notch. A month of trekking in remote parts - no one got sick or injured, everyone completed the trek. The Mountain Company were efficient and thorough, operating with integrity and responsibility.” 

You can read all of our AITO reviews received over the years for Lunana Snowman

Many thanks to Almas, Tsering Dorje, Tashi, Nawang, Tandim Sonam and rest of the crew for all of their hard work organising and leading another successful Snowman trek.

We have now launched the dates and prices for Lunana Snowman 2019 on TMC website and this departure is now already guaranteed to run. Please get in touch with us soon if you like to join our Snowman 2019 group.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

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