Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels here.
This rugged route begins near Round Lake (圆海), elevation 4,250 meters, and ends at Qiaotou Town (桥头镇) at 1,850 meters, the starting point of the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡). From the high point at Jizhi Pass (鸡枝垭口), 4,330 meters, the route descends through the valley of the same name. Spectacular scenery greets the intrepid visitor to this remote area. Take note, the route descends continuously for 2,500 vertical meters. Your feet and knees will feel it!
The upper valley offers superb views of Haba Snow Mountain’s West Face. Whereas the ascent to the summit on the north attracts beginner mountaineers, the 1000-meter high face awaits world-class alpinists.
The route is usually hiked as part of a 3-day trek from Haba Village (哈巴村) to Qiaotou. On the first day trekkers spend the night at Kentahua Meadow (肯塔花坪), Black Lake (黑海) or Base Camp (大本营). On days 2 and 3 they traverse the Jizhi Valley (鸡枝山谷) down to Qiaotou. Hiring a guide is recommended.
Starting from Round Lake or vicinity, ascend the valley south to Jizhi Pass in 30 minutes. Cross the pass and descend through the Jizhi Valley, camping one night in the valley.
When I made the trek, our group camped near the upper end of an aqueduct half-way down. A short distance across the valley lay a tungsten mine (钨矿), toiling away non-stop. Noisy! Every few minutes a monster truck topped with ore roared down the valley into the abyss. We were pleased when operations ceased at dusk. In 2019, the provincial government shut down the mine.
Just above the aqueduct, a section of trail frightened me far more than anything I ever encountered in Tiger Leaping Gorge. The narrow and downward sloping foot bed forced me to slow down and tread carefully, since a fall might have serious consequences. Traversing this section under wet conditions would be tense.
|Duration: 5 hours|
For a straightforward descent of the lower valley, trace the aqueduct just mentioned for 10 kilometers. Note the bridge spanning the valley lower down. That is the Lijiang (丽江) to Shangri-La (香格里拉) expressway, completed in 2021.
Pass through the hamlet of Haibaluo (海巴洛村). After the aquaduct turns a corner, the Haba summit is no longer visible. Continue along the aqueduct until Qiaotou becomes visible in the valley below, then descend to the Chong River (冲江河). Cross the river on a bridge near a factory and walk for another hour on the Shangri-La to Lijiang highway to reach Qiaotou.
|Region: Jizhi Valley|
|Itinerary: Round Lake—Jizhi Pass—Jizhi Valley—Qiaotou Town|
|Duration: 2 days one-way|
|Distance: 23 km one-way|
|Altitude in Meters: Start 4,250. Max 4,330. End 1,850|
|Elevation Gain: Gain 200 meters. Loss 2,500 meters|
|Water Sources: Round Lake, Jizhi Valley streams, aquaduct|
|Hiking Times: Round Lake to Jizhi Pass 30 min. Jizhi Valley aqueduct 5:00 hrs. Qiaotou Town 10:00.|