MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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January 23, 2013

Debut Tsum Valley Trek 2012


Deana Zabaldo photo

Tsum Valley is idyllic, the quintessential Shangri-La conjured in Himalayan dreams. Snowy mountains in the distance, women in Tibetan dress harvesting millet or barley in the field, stone houses in small clusters, chortens all along the trail, dozens of small monasteries, children with sunburnt cheeks and runny noses full of curiosity, men ushering yak caravans to Tibet for trade, women spinning yak wool into yarn on drop spindles, and at times the world is quiet like you cannot imagine — only the sound of wind to break the night. We’ve stepped into another world.


Women harvesting millet in a field. Deana Zabaldo photo

Woman spinning wool into yarn on a drop spindle. Deana Zabaldo photo

We walked 5 days from the end of the road to reach the edge of Tsum Valley at Sardii Gorge. A generation ago, the high trail was a narrow and dangerous route over the mountain. Huge boulders made the low route impassable for millennia until finally they were blasted out to make a trail. Before that, the valley was largely secluded from the world below and mostly traded across the Himalayas with Tibet. Even once you enter Tsum, it’s a stiff climb through steep, rugged terrain and the poorer villages of Lower Tsum eking out a living on subsistence agriculture to Upper Tsum, where the valley opens into a broad expanse. Here the fields spread wide, the villages are larger, and the people are engaged in farming, herding, and trading.

~ MM Guide Deana Zabaldo

The broad valley and fields of Upper Tsum. Choekamparo village and Bouddha Himal range. Deana Zabaldo photo

Yak on the trail. Deana Zabaldo photo

Sharing some snacks in the afternoon. Deana Zabaldo photo

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