Back Side Route

Route Overview

Route Overview

The Back Side Route (背面路线) winds around the east, north and west sides of Shika Snow Mountain (石卡雪山). The cable car base station serves as the starting point. The end point is the visitor observation platform on the summit ridge, just above the top station. For a full-day loop hike, take the Base to Summit Route up the mountain and descend Back Side Route. The 22 km trek circles the entire mountain.

In all likelihood, few trekkers will trace the route on ascent. Hence the route description starts at the top and goes down. Parts of the route are a bit confusing on the ground and may require the use of navigation aids, maps, GPS etc. Hiring a guide is an option.

Route Description

Route Description

Tibetan Chorten

At the visitor observation platform, elev. 4,400 meters (but signed as 4,500), locate the Tibetan chorten (西藏佛塔)—a wooden pole set in a stone monument—on the open ridge to the west. It is situated roughly 700 meters away at an elevation of 4,300 meters. Once you climb off of the boardwalk and reach the ground, the walk down takes only a few minutes.

The mound of rocks includes mani stones bearing the mantra “Om mani padme hum”. Adherents of the Buddhist tradition add a small stone to the monument and pass on the left to ensure walking round clockwise.

Meadows and Huts

The Back Side Route trends northwest and north with minor ups and down, crossing high altitude meadows where herds of yaks gently graze. Many huts dot the landscape. Once frequented by local yak herders, the structures are falling into ruins.

Lower Route Conditions

The route bends around the back of the mountain and trends east for the remainder of the trek. The last four kilometers make for tedious walking on account of innumerable stones. As compensation, the final section traverses a scenic canyon, the deepest parts of which seldom see sunlight.

Canyon Activity

Local ethnic women scour the forest hereabouts, collecting bamboo branches from which to fashion simple but effective brooms. Rescue teams practice rope and litter techniques on the steep canyon slopes.

The route emerges out of the canyon, skirts the cable car base station, and ends shortly at the parking lot.

Summary: Back Side Route

Summary: Back Side Route

Location: Shika Snow Mountain
Itinerary: Observation Platform—Tibetan Chorten—High Meadows—Canyon—Cable Car Base Station
Duration: 3½ hours (descent) one-way
Distance: 14 km one-way
Altitude in Meters: Start 4,410. End 3,410
Elevation Gain: Gain 50 meters. Loss 1,000 meters
Rating: Advanced

Written by
Pieter Crow