Base to Summit Route

Shika Snow Mountain summit ridge

Route Overview

Route Overview

The Base to Summit Route (从山脚到山顶路线) starts at the cable car base station and ascends in 7½ km to the top of Shika Snow Mountain (石卡雪山). Above timberline, the route briefly joins the Lingxi Lake Boardwalk (灵犀湖栈道), which it follows to the ridge crest near the upper station. A final short hike leads to the summit, elevation 4,449 meters, festooned with Tibetan prayer flags. On clear days there are 360 degrees of stunning views.



Starting at the cable car base station, walk south for a few minutes on flat or gently sloping ground to an abandoned restroom building at an elevation of 3,400 meters (27º47’44“N, 99º37’55“E).

Route Description

Route Description

Trailhead to East Side Route Junction

At the abandoned building the hike begins in earnest, ascending steeply from the valley floor and gradually curving to the left higher up. In Autumn, larch trees line the route with brilliant yellow foliage, a lovely sight. The last section of this initial stretch climbs steeply to a trail junction, one hour from the car park. The left fork is the East Side Route (东边路线). The Base to Summit Route forks right at the junction.

Observation Platform #2 (2号观景台) is located a few meters down the East Side Route. The magnificent view at 3,710 meters scans the plains of Shangri-La. For a water source, descend East Side Route for several hundred meters to a small brook.

Pass 3810

Continuing on, the Base to Summit Route traverses rolling ground and flat stretches, then climbs steadily to Pass 3810, thirty minutes after leaving the trail junction. From the vicinity of the pass there are good views of the upper line of the cable car.

Yak Meadow

Descending west from the pass, the route soon reaches a trail junction. The track straight ahead leads to the cable car middle station. The left fork, which you should take, leads to Yak Meadow (牦牛牧场), an extensive open area with a collection of huts. If you see smoke rising from the huts you can be sure ethnic Tibetan yak herders are in residence.

At the edge of the meadow, cross a dirt road which leads on the right to the middle station (1 km) and on the left to Lingxi Lake (6 km). Traverse Yak Meadow in a southwest direction, passing near to or amidst the huts. Aim for a drainage which narrows down to a slot on the western edge of the meadow.

Pass 4300

Ascend the drainage steeply to huts at treeline, elev. 4,160. From there the route ascends gradually to Pass 4300. The time to hike from Pass 3810 to Pass 4300 is one hour fifty minutes.


Just beyond the pass lies the Lingxi Lake Boardwalk. For the history and purpose of the boardwalk see the Shika overview article.


To continue on to the summit from Pass 4300, ascend the mountain either on the ground or by mounting up awkwardly onto the boardwalk. After 20 minutes you will reach the visitor observation platform, elevation 4,400 meters (but signed as 4,500), a short distance above the cable car upper station.

If you elect the boardwalk, you may have to climb over one or two barriers that are intended to dissuade visitors from continuing downhill. When the cable car (closed as of 2023) was still in operation, a nearby guard station was sometimes occupied, but trekkers clambering over the barricades were ignored.

From the visitor observation platform, the hike to the top takes 20 minutes. Follow a short extension of the boardwalk to the north then walk the path to the high point, where Tibetan prayer flags flutter in the breeze.

Image YCIIHG: Yunnan Cultural Industry Investment Holding Group

Summary: Base to Summit Route

Summary: Base to Summit Route

Location: Shika Snow Mountain
Itinerary: Cable Car Base Station—Pass 3810—Yak Meadow—Pass 4300—Summit
Duration: 4 hours one-way
Distance: 7½ km one-way (East Side Route Jct 1.5. Pass 3810 2.5. Timberline huts 5.1. Pass 4300 6.2. Observation platform 7.0. Summit 7.5)
Altitude in Meters: Start 3,400. Max 4,449. End 4,449
Elevation Gain: 1,130 meters
Rating: Advanced
Hiking Times: Base Station to East Side Route Jct 1 hour. Pass 3810 1:30. Timberline huts 2:50. Pass 4300 3:20. Observation platform 3:40. Summit 4 hours

Written by
Pieter Crow