- Siguniang Mountain: a Sacred Place for Tibetans and Paradise for Climbers
Siguniang Mountain: a Sacred Place for Tibetans and Paradise for Climbers
I drank hot water from my thermos. First, the hot water could warm my body. Second, my body needed a lot of water at an altitude where I'm not used to living, above 3300 m of the sea level. I was in the valley of Siguniang Mountain, China, one of the sacred places for Tibetan people and a paradise for the climbers.
Temperature showed -8 on 24 January 2018. The sun shined hot even though winter happened, no doubt, dry vegetation in the valley. High mountains soared. There was snow at its peak. Like ice cream, the mountains were covered in a cream called snow, which makes the mountain scenery mesmerized anyone seeing. Standing on the Tibetan plate, Mount Siguniang encompasses four peaks: Daguniang Feng (Big Peak or 1st peak), Erguniang Feng (2nd peak), Sangungiang Feng (3rd peak), and Yaomei Feng (4th peak). The highest peak is Yaomei Feng (literally: "peak of the youngest sister"), also known as the "Queen of Sichuan's peaks", standing at 6250 meters. The lowest peak is 5025 M, called "peak of the oldest sister" which was the destination I'd go, generally considered as a pure trekking peak.
Animals such as mountain cows, pigs, and mountain horses, living in this national park, usually do not live wild but are reared by local people. Their physique is unique compared to cattle animal in general. They have thick fur, except for the pigs.
Communities living around the park, mostly, work as farmers and tourism workers. Horse porters, hiking guides, hotel managers, cookers, and climbing guides are the people's work. Among the 91% ethnic Han living in China, in Singuniang Village, live ethnic Qiang, and Tibetan.
As a small town, Siguniang's Infrastructure is quite good as the Chinese government built highways and tunnels under the mountain to reach this mountain since 1990, when tourism in Mount Siguniang began to attract tourists, especially the climbers. Furthermore, Hotels with a price range of 70-160 RMB more and more stand. Those prices are including breakfast and dinner, WiFi, heater, hot water and a 3x5m room with 4-star design hotel, affordable!
Unlike other tourist destinations in China that are congested, this place is deserted by visitors. In the national park, many things can be done, especially outdoor activities. For instance, tourists farther away from Singapore were just to climb the ice around this mountain. Ice climbing tour is indeed one of the main purposes besides hiking to Mount Siguniang. However, ice climbing also functions as a process of acclimatization, to familiarize the climbers with altitude conditions. The levels of climbing ranging are from easy to difficult. The climbing equipment is easy to rent around the hotel, and there is also some climbing school.
For hiking activities on the Mountain, the hiking begins at an altitude of 3300. For climbers who do not want to be tired to walk as far as 19 km, to reach the 4325 m height, shelter before the top of the mountain, some horses can be ridden people and goods. For climbers who want to walk, from the entrance gate entrance to the oldest sister's peak shelter, it would take 5-7 hours, at a leisurely pace. For reaching the oldest sister's peak, it needs 3-4 hours for going and returning. Then, the second oldest Mountain, which is 200 m higher than the older sister can be reached easily from the oldest one's shelter. Only 2 hours walk, people can make the camp in the second shelter then reach the peak with 5-6 hours go and return.
Anyway, no worries, walking time doesn't become as long as we imagine as the climbers will always be entertained by mountain scenery, mountain cows, and other towering iceberg mountains, showing its grandeur. Then, from the shelter before the peak of the mountain, climbers can reach the summit approximately 4 hours hiking (up and down).
The significance of Mount Siguniang for the Local People
Before reaching the first shelter in the Mountain, climbers are encouraged to go through the usual Tibetan 'rituals', to offer prayers for peace on earth. The ritual is delivered by turning around the 'mini' tower with colorful flags, eight times.
For the Tibetan people, not only did Siguniang Mountain bring in their income, long before that, Mount Siguniang was one of the holy places where they worship. Until now, each year on the first month in the Chinese calendar, local Tibetans within a radius of hundreds of miles will dress in their holiday best, ride horses with red ribbons gather to Mount Siguniang to sacrifice and worship Siguniang Mountain. Then they will light the bonfire and perform Guozhuang dance. Boys and girls will keep expressing their love to each other using antiphonal singing and horse racing until the sun falls.
Tips and access to Mount Siguniang
- The mountain is accessible through the capital of Sichuan Province, Chengdu. From Chengdu, visitors can take a bus from Chengdu bus terminal to Wolong that cost ¥150 then proceed by hiring a small car to get to the hotel at the Siguniang Valley.
- It took 6 hours by bus to reach Siguniangshan from Chádiànzi long-distance bus station in Chengdu with the delightful journey as it goes over a 4200-meter mountain pass with formidable views.
- The Mountain can be entered in all of the time, whether winter or summer season, especially the oldest and the second oldest mountain. In winter, the temperature will be -13 even though the sun shines brightly.
- Before climbing, it is advisable to acclimatize so the body can adjust to the new environment.
- Before doing the climb in the winter season is not recommended for bathing because it can make the body getting cold easily at cold temperatures.
- Carrying mountain climbing equipment such as UV glasses at least 400, sun protector, minimal outer and inner jacket, mountain boots, gloves and tents (for those who want to spend the night)
- Sleeping too long can cause less oxygen consumption provoking an acute headache. Therefore, it is suggested sleeping 6-8 hours per day.
- It's highly recommended to train and keep fit before going to Siguniang Mountain.
- You can choose Shuangqiaogou entrance with ¥80 and ¥50/date in the off-season, Dec. 1 - March 30 fees.
- The town is small enough to get to most hotels by foot.
- Siguniangshan has three central valleys all within easy reach from Siguniangshan town.
Rayhan Dudayev is an adventurer, member of the University of Indonesia's Mapala organization and law researcher on maritime policy. He is passionate in free-diving and reading. Check out his Instagram at @rdudayev