Base Camp Route (大本营路线)
Region: Alpine Lakes Region
Itinerary: Haba Village—Longwangbian Village—Daqila Shelter—Base Camp—Black Lake
Distance: 9 km to Base Camp, 13 km to Black Lake, one-way
Duration: 5 hours to Base Camp, 7 hours to Black Lake, one-way
Altitude in Meters: Start 2,650. Max 4,250. End 4,100
Elevation Gain: 1,450 meters to Base Camp. An extra 200 meters to Black Lake
Hiking Times: Haba Snow Mountain Inn to On the Clouds Inn of Haba 0:20 hrs. To Village mosque 0:30 hrs. To Hongtupo Meadow 1:30 hrs. To Xiaoqila Meadow 2:30 hrs. To Daqila Shelter 3:00 hrs. To Base Camp 5:00 hrs. To Round Lake 6:20. To Black Lake 7:00 hrs.
Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels.
The Base Camp Route provides one of three standard approaches to Black Lake (黑海). The others are Lanhua Meadow Route (兰花坪路线) and Jianshan Route (尖山路线). The Base Camp Route is the standard path used by many mountain guides, including the ones from On the Clouds Inn of Haba, which is located in the Hui hamlet of Longwangbian (龙汪边). Mountain climbers ascending Haba Snow Mountain travel the path in large numbers. Most stay overnight at Base Camp and attempt the summit the next day or following an additional day of acclimatization. Trekkers who do not intend to reach the top are also welcome to stay at Base Camp. For information about facilities and fees please see the Base Camp page. For information about the different place names on the route, see below. Reliable water sources: the spring at the base of the route, Xiaoqila Meadow, Daqila Shelter, and the small pond at Base Camp.
Over the years, the path to Base Camp has received heavy use from thousands of mountaineers and mules. This has caused erosion, deep rutting and a proliferation of paths. Under wet conditions the track may turn into a muddy mess. Needless to say, the trek can be unpleasant. Riding a mule can be a sensible alternative to walking.
Haba Village to Hongtupo Meadow (1 hour 30 minutes)
At Haba Snow Mountain Inn (哈巴雪山客栈) in Haba Village (哈巴村), turn left (south) and follow the main road through the village. Cross the bridge over the Seji River (色吉河) and continue beyond for 300 meters. At an intersection with a paved road and bulletin board on the left and a dirt lane on the right, turn right onto the dirt lane Follow the lane to a bridge over a stream.
Immediately after crossing the stream, turn left onto a dirt path which leads uphill through fields. After a few minutes, arrive at a cluster of houses and a paved road. Proceed up the road for a few hundred meters to a rock pillar with the words “On the Clouds Inn of Haba”. The guest house is on the right, the road you want to take goes left.
In a few minutes you will reach the mosque in Longwangbian Village. An English plaque on the building reads ‘The Xianggelila mosque’. In the forest behind the mosque a footbridge crosses a stream, and here the Base Camp Route officially begins.
After crossing the footbridge, the track turns right. It passes the outlet of a spring and ascends steeply through the forest. Along the way cross a dirt road near a concrete bridge, pass next to a cement water tank, and traverse several switchbacks. In certain seasons, the cicadas living among the trees ‘sing’, creating a remarkably loud sound.
1½ hours after starting out you will reach a huge opening called Hongtupo Meadow (红土坡坪), at an elevation of 3,100 meters. Mountaineers and mules rest here before plodding higher.
Hongtupo Meadow to Daqila Shelter (1 hour 30 minutes)
After trekking higher for 60 minutes, arrive at the next meadow, Xiaoqila (小七拉). This smaller meadow sits at an elevation of 3,400 meters. Both this and the lower Hontupo Meadow offer good views of the Haba Valley, from the Jinsha River (金沙江) valley in the east to massive Gan Mountain (干山) to the north.
For water at Xiaoqila Meadow, proceed as follows. Starting from the top of the meadow, head right (west) near the treeline to an abandoned hut. Continue on to a stand of trees and the spring hidden within.
Shortly above Xiaoqila Meadow a trail joins on the right. That is the Alternate Base Camp Route (备用大本营路线). 30 minutes above the meadow stands the Daqila Shelter (大七拉小屋) at an elevation of 3,600 meters. It is considered the half-way point to Base Camp and marks the standard lunch spot along the way. During the busy season (first week of April and October) a caretaker resides here and tends a humungous pot of noodles for hungry hikers. Mountain guides and mule packers rest inside and boil tea over a fire. Shelter space is limited, and hikers should not plan to spend the night inside.
A spring just above the shelter provides water for man and mule. If the spring goes dormant, you’ll find another in the woods below the shelter. Look for a small pool under an overhanging rock with a tree growing on top. You’ll have to treat the water to make it safe for drinking.
Daqila Shelter to Base Camp (2 hours)
45 minutes above the Daqila Shelter, at an elevation of 3,800 meters, you will pass several huts. Just beyond is a sandy wash known as Ganhe (干河, meaning Dry River). A side path on the left leads to Luwanping (绿湾坪), or Lower Base Camp. This is an alternative camp at 4,050 meters used by some mountain climbers. For Base Camp, continue straight ahead. 1¼ hours beyond Ganhe and 300 meters higher, you finally arrive at Base Camp.
Base Camp to Black Lake (2 hours)
To continue the trek to Black Lake, head west from Base Camp on a path that crosses over a low ridge and descends into a meadow with dilapidated huts. Ascend out of the meadow through stunted forest, and arrive above the tree line in an alpine valley. Here, the route to Jizhi Pass turns left (south) and ascends the valley in 30 minutes to the pass. The route to Black Lake turns right (northwest). It crosses over a rise and passes near Round Lake (圆海), elevation 4,250 meters, which is situated to the right. From Base Camp to Round Lake takes 1 hour 20 minutes. Descend in a westerly direction to Long Lake (长海) which sits in a sheltered basin at the base of a sheer rock peak. Follow the shoreline north and proceed downhill, reaching Black Lake 40 minutes after passing Round Lake.
Place names on the Base Camp Route
Depending on where people live, Naxi from Guluba (古鲁八) or the Hui from Longwangbian, they will apply different names for the place names on Base Camp Route. I have chosen to use the Hui terms in this guide, since the Base Camp Route begins at the Hui Longwangbian Village. The guides from On the Clouds Inn of Haba are Hui. The guides from Haba Snow Mountain Inn are Naxi. Below is a chart with the different names.
Elev. Hui Naxi
3,100 红土坡坪 (Hongtupo Meadow) 红土坡坪下 (Lower Hongtupo Meadow)
3,400 小七拉 (Xiaoqila) 红土坡坪上 (Upper Hongtupo Meadow)
3,600 大七拉 (Daqila) 小七拉 (Xiaoqila)
3,800 干河 (Ganhe) 干河 (Ganhe)