a morning at the top of the world: jade dragon snow mountain

Friday, February 6:  Today, Alex and I hire a driver to take us to Yulong Xue Shan, also known as Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.  Before we leave, Merry at our hotel gives us two cans of oxygen.  She tells us that if we use them, we can pay her for them; if not, we can just return them.

The drive to the mountain has some spectacular views.  I can’t stop taking pictures out the window.

first views from the car to Yulong Xue Shan, or Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

first views from the car to Yulong Xue Shan, or Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Once the driver sees me trying to take pictures from the moving car, he makes several stops along the way so I can get out to take some better pictures.

The southern part of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains are about 30 kilometers north of Lijiang Ancient City. There are glaciers on the peaks that are the southernmost in the world.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

On Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, there are 19 glaciers, and the total area is 11.6 square kilometers. According to scholars, these glaciers have a history of over 80,000 years. The formation of the glaciers are “influenced by the marine monsoon, so-called the marine mild glacier.”  The glaciers can develop only in an area of high latitude and high elevation.  Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, located at a low latitude, can develop glaciers because of its high elevation and abundant rain, so that it has become the snow mountain with the lowest latitude and modern glacial distribution on the Eurasian continent (Lijiang of China).

Marker for Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Marker for Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

According to China Highlights: Lijiang Travel Guide: Consisting of 13 peaks, the tallest peak of the mountains is called Shanzidou (扇子陡); its elevation is 5,596 meters or 18,360 feet. The Rocky Mountains in America are less than 14,500 feet, and the highest peak in the Alps in Europe is about 15,800 feet. Only two people, both Americans, have ever climbed the mountain. They said it is extremely dangerous. One of the smaller peaks has an elevation of about 4,680 meters or 15,354 feet, and a specially constructed stairway and path goes up to the summit of that peak (but not the very tip) so that people can climb safely.

According to China Travel Guide: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain: “The mountain stretches a length of 35 kilometers (22 miles) and a width of 20 kilometers (13 miles). Looking from Lijiang Old Town in the south, the snow-covered and fog-enlaced mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence the name.”

the mountain with wispy clouds

the mountain with wispy clouds

Our driver drops us at the entrance, where we pay the entrance fee and buy cable car tickets for the 3km long cable car that will take us to the smaller peak.

Alex and our driver

Alex and our driver

We take a bus up winding roads to the cable car entrance.  This is our view of the mountain.

view up the mountain from the cable car entrance

view up the mountain from the cable car entrance

The elevation at the entrance to the cable car is 3,356 meters.  We have to stand in a very long queue, which Alex isn’t one bit happy about.  Surprisingly the queue moves very quickly.

in a queue at the cable car

in a queue at the cable car

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Once we get on the cable car, we have some excellent views of some of the peaks.

view from the cable car

view from the cable car

We also have some exciting views of the route ahead.

view up the mountain from the cable car

view up the mountain from the cable car

view from the cable car

view from the cable car

Once we get to the top, we can see this scary looking viewing platform.  All of the walkways at the top of the cable car are wooden walkways, and I can’t help but feel like they’re a tad bit wobbly.

the first viewing platform once we get off the cable car

the first viewing platform once we get off the cable car

The walkway goes up as far as we can see, and as is typical in China, it is packed with people.  No matter.  In this case, the views are so spectacular that I, for once, am not really bothered too much by the crowds.

the walkway up the mountain

the walkway up the mountain

It’s easy to get winded at this elevation.  Many of the Chinese tourists are stopping on the steps to breathe using their oxygen cans.  Alex and I are determined not to use ours.  We just take our time, making numerous stops along the way to catch our breath.

Alex on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Alex on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Me taking a breather as we climb the walkway

Me taking a breather as we climb the walkway

I am really amazed at the Chinese engineering feat of building the cable car and the walkway up this mountain.  Much like building the tallest outdoor elevator in the world, the Bailong Elevator at Zhangjiajie, the Chinese are undaunted by any challenge.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

The views are truly spectacular, especially with the blue skies and the wispy clouds floating over the peaks.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

As we climb higher, we can see the cable car building and the viewing platform and the clouds below us.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

above the clouds

above the clouds

Alex at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Alex at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

blowing clouds at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

blowing clouds at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

As is usual, a number of Chinese tourists want to take our pictures, and we snag one of them to take a picture of the two of us together, mother and son. 🙂

me with Alex

me with Alex

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

A bunch of the Chinese tourists have climbed off the walkway and are playing in the snow.  Alex wants to do the same.  I tell him if he gets arrested by the Chinese authorities, he’s on his own.  He reconsiders but I don’t know why. 🙂

Chinese tourists getting off the walkway to play in the snow

Chinese tourists getting off the walkway to play in the snow

pinnacles at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

pinnacles at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

on top of the clouds

on top of the clouds

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Alex, who is a personal trainer, loves to do hand stands outdoors at special places and he picks the top viewing platform to do one.

Alex does a handstand at the top

Alex does a handstand at the top

snowscape

snowscape

I stand at the top beside the Chinese flag.  I just love it when I get pictures of myself with flags or trees or poles growing out of my head. 🙂

me with the Chinese flag growing out of my head

me with the Chinese flag growing out of my head

peak at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

peak at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

We are able to make it all the way to the top without using our oxygen cans, but we can see the Chinese in droves sucking down that oxygen!  We feel proud of ourselves that we didn’t have to resort to using ours.

After our long walk up, and much picture-taking, we head back down the walkway to the cable car, where we return to the bottom.

looking down into the valley

looking down into the valley

According to Lijiang of China: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain: In the mountains, one can find eight famous flowers of Yunnan: camellia, azalea, yulan, orchid, lily, harbinger-of-spring, gentian, and poppy.  In addition, there are over 50 kinds of azaleas, and the yellow azalea that is grown in the Britain Royal Plant Garden is transplanted from here. There are caladiums, worm grass, snowy tea, snowy lotus and over 800 kinds of medicinal materials. There are also all kinds of delicious mushrooms!

On the way out of the cable car building, we come to a shop where you can buy every kind of dried mushroom known to man.

After leaving the shop, we can see there are several horrendously long queues.  The longest queue seems to be for the bus to Blue Moon Valley, which several people have recommended we see.  Buses to take people to Blue Moon Valley come by very sporadically, so our wait is very long.  As you can imagine, both Alex and I get very impatient as we stand in line with the jostling crowds.

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Categories: Asia, China, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang, Travel, Yulong Xue Shan, Yunnan Province | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “a morning at the top of the world: jade dragon snow mountain

  1. Wow, what amazing scenery.

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  2. Well done for managing without oxygen, you must be very fit, I wouldn’t be able to breath at that altitude! The views are, incredible, was it very cold? I wouldn’t want to get on that first platform with the weight of all those people on it and the floor where Alex is doing a handstand looks identical to the stuff commonly used for garden decking, and that isn’t built to last! Yet again the engineering is amazing 🙂

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    • Surprisingly it wasn’t that cold, Gilly. I had several layers on and I found myself wishing I had not worn them! All those steps and decks did seem to be made of garden decking. I hope it’s sturdy enough to withstand all those crowds.

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  3. Some spectacular photos here. Probably too many steps for me on that walkway and that viewing platform scares me to death! So thank you for taking me here 🙂
    I was hoping you’d have a photo of the canned oxygen.

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  4. Fantastic scenery, Cathy. Loved the handstand man. 🙂

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  5. Definitely on the Chinese bucket list of attractions to visit by the looks of your pictures and description, but “wow” the scenery was worth it and how nice to have Alex with you. 🙂

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  6. Not surprised you were winded! Mt. Everest Base Camp is “only” 5,380 m (17,700 ft) so you did amazing not to need oxygen considering you did not acclimatize yourselves! Lovely views, shame about all those people. Ugh, I could not bear it. It was the same in Japan, anywhere you went in Tokyo, anyway, at least 2 million people were going there, as well.

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    • Wow, I had no idea Everest Base Camp was at a lower elevation than Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. No wonder all those people were using those oxygen cans!! I’m lucky we didn’t need it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Incredible, Cathy! Floating up there above the clouds 🙂 Really spectacular shots. Like Gilly I wondered if it would be freezing but nobody seems well bundled up against it.

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    • It was an amazing place, Jo. And surprisingly it wasn’t that cold. I found myself wishing I could strip off the layers I was wearing. I worked up some heat climbing all those stairs. 🙂

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