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The Glories and Facts of the King - Mount Gongga

Mount Gongga, or called Minya Konka in Tibetan, lies at the south part of Kangding City of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Sichuan Province, with a driving distance for about 320km southwest of Sichuan’s capital Chengdu. This sacred mountain Mount Gongga was very-little-known by the world before the year 1930. However, the shocking article The Glories of Minya Konka published on National Geographic Magazines at that year made Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) won his fame overnight. What made Mount Gongga a big hit? Why it is still so fascinating to the world-round travelers now?

A National “Joke” of 9,920m (30,250 feet) and Highest Mountain in the World: In 1930, famous explorer Joseph F. Rock miscalculated the height of Gongga Peak as 30,250 ft (9,920m) and excitedly sent a shocking telegram to National Geographic Society - the highest peak in the world, Minya Konka.

King of Sichuan Mountains and Whole Yangtze River Basin: Mount Gongga enjoys the reputation of “King of Sichuan Mountains” because its highest peak is also the highest one in whole Sichuan region, with a daunting altitude of 7,556m. Besides, its main peak is also the highest in whole Yangtze River basin.

Rank on the Top of China’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Mountains: Mount Gongga enjoys a reputation of No.1 Mountain among the list of China’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Mountains, along with Mount Everest, Meri Snow Mountain, Yellow Mountain, Three Holy Mountains, Mount Chogori, Mount Kailash, Mount Tai, Mount Emei and Lushan.

The Conquer of Mount Gongga is Tougher and More Dangerous than the Everest: Though the altitude of Mount Gongga is lower than the Everest, the highest mountain in the world, its vertical drop is far more lager, making the summit conquer tougher and more dangerous.

No One Succeeded to Conquer the King until 1932: In 1932, B. Emmons and his group of four made a lengthy adventurous goal to conquer the summit of Mount Gongga. And after more than a-month’s tough self-challenging, two of them succeeded. Their tough but thrilling journey had been kept on the book Men Against the Clouds: The Conquest of Minya Konka.

Only 32 Climbers Have Reached to the Highest Summit of Mount Gongga: After nearly 90 years of challenge, the king still stands straightly to fight off the braves. Till the end of 2019, only 32 extreme climbers have successfully reached to the summit.

The Name Konka Implies the Snow-and-ice-capped Mountain in Tibetan Language: “Kon” refers to snow and ice, while “Ka” means white in Tibetan. Mount Konka, as its name implies, means the mountain capped with snow and ice in Tibetan Language. Minya is the name of people group living there.

Gongga Scenic Area is Virtually Not Only Gongga Peak: With the highest Gongga Peak siting as the central, Gongga Scenic Area spreads more than 10,000 square kilometers. Hailuogou Glacier Park and Swallow Valley at the foot of the mountain area are virtually all belonging to Gongga Scenic Area.

Mount Gongga isn’t but also is the Site for Everyone: The summits conquer of Mount Gongga isn’t an activity for everyone. However, the king is always ready to treat every guest with other fantastic attractions like amazing glaciers, alpine lakes, meadow, red stones and forest, with the sacred mountains standing in a distance as a backdrop.

>> 4 Days Classic Kangding, Xinduqiao & Tagong Grassland Tour

Mount Gongga (GonggaShan or Minya Konka) Mount Gongga (GonggaShan or Minya Konka) Mount Gongga (GonggaShan or Minya Konka) Mount Gongga (GonggaShan or Minya Konka)

The Charm of the King - Mount Gongga Attractions

The vertical drop of more than 6,000 meters in Gongga Mountains created the rich biodiversity and landscape. Lush subtropical jungle, wide translucent glaciers, crystal-like airplane lakes, mysterious red rocks, healing hot springs, sparse thickets, endless cloud seas and rare animals coexist in Mount Gongga harmoniously.

The scenery changes with altitude rising, and it is said you will encounter with a totally different world every ten miles at Mount Gongga. And the “royal crowns above the clouds” - the summits are really BIG temptations for extreme climbers who are ready to be a historic winner or a sacrifice to the holy king.

Minya Konka

When it comes to Mount Gongga, the first scene comes to mind is always its towering main peak - the king Minya Konka. And a Mount Gongga tour, even Kangding and Western Sichuan tour, is usually accompanied by him from a distance. Getting close to him is a lifelong hot topic for trekkers and photographers.

Hailuogou Glacier Park

The gravity from the center of the earth pulls the ice and snow of Mount Gongga downward, forming largest scaled and most beautiful glaciers among those at the same latitude in the world. Those spectacular glaciers all flow out from the main peak of Mount Gongga and show radial distribution around the scenic area. To be calculated, there are altogether 74 glaciers in Mount Gongga Scenic Area. Amongst the glaciers, Hailuogou Glacier Park at the foot of Mount Gongga has the most spectacular and accessible glaciers.

Hailuogou Glacier Park (海螺沟) is composed of 4 camps, with a relatively lower altitude from 1,600m to 3,600m. Those camps are well-connected by sightseeing buses and cableways, allowing everyone have a close visit to the Mount Gongga Glaciers there. For visitors who are keen on the otherworldly Mount Gongga sceneries but feel trouble about the altitude sickness, you are suggested to spend 1~2 days to explore Hailuogou Glacier Park. The large amount of wonderful glaciers, red stones, hot springs and good view site for a glimpse of the king there won’t let you down.

Minya Konka View from Hailuogou Glacier Park Minya Konka
View from Hailuogou Glacier Park
Hailuogou Glacier Park Hailuogou Glacier Park

Swallow Valley

Swallow Valley (燕子沟), or called Yanzigou, neighbors Hailuogou Glaciers Park on its south edge. Compared with Hailuogou, Yanzigou enjoys a larger area with wilder sceneries. Here, you will find the largest size of Red Stones Beach, hence the nickname “World Red Stone Park”.

Since the scenery in the nearby Hailuogou Glacier Park is more elegant and more concentrated. Tourists heading to take a glimpse of Mount Gongga and the surroundings prefer Hailuogou Glacier Park more. However, there are also a great mount of visitors will take a one-day tour to discover Yanzigou, especially for those who want a wild trekking experience at a relatively lower elevation.

Yanzigou Red Stones Yanzigou Red Stones

Quanhua Beach

Quanhua Beach (泉华滩) is hidden in a hollow valley on the west side of Mount Gongga, surrounded by mountains on its three sides. White calcified soils flow from the hill slopes gathering at the valley floor there, forming four layers of colorful calcification terraces. On each layer, there are a dozen of beautiful pools in different color, sizes, and shapes. Since such amazing scenery of Quanhua Beach is quite like incredible fairy-like calcified world in Huanglong National Park near Jiuzhaigou, Quanhua Beach is widely admired as the “Little Huanglong” by tourists.

Quanhua Beach and Minya Konka Quanhua Beach and Minya Konka

Lenggacuo Lake

Lenggacuo Lake (冷嘎错) is about 20km northwest of the main peak of Mount Gongga. It is a wide-known wonderful photography site to shoot Mount Gongga and its sublime reflection on the water. Besides, it is also an amazing spot to capture splendid sunrise, sunset and night sky with sparkling stars. Horizon disappears at the edge of the lake, forming a surreal scene of only the lake and Mount Gongga in a distance.

To get to Lenggacuo Lake, it requires a 4-hour alpine trekking tour from Bangmujide Village (帮木吉德) in Kangding. Some tourists also choose to ask the local horses for help. The elevation makes a rise up to 4,600m from 3,900m during the hiking trip. Remember to take good care and preparation for the altitude sickness.

Lenggacuo Lake & Minya Konka Lenggacuo Lake & Minya Konka

Gongga Monastery

Gongga Monastery (贡嘎寺) on the west side of Mount Gongga holds a sacred position in Tibetan Buddhism. It is also the largest and most important monastery in whole Mount Gongga Scenic Area. And for trekkers, Gongga Monastery is a great stopover site to take a break during their long trekking journey getting close the Minya Konka. Due to the harmonious coexists of monks and surroundings, wild birds and other animals often show up there. When dark falls or the first wisp sunlight appears, Minya Konka in a distance will wear a piece of golden robe. Such amazing scenery and environment will calm you down and leave all your troubles behind you.

Gongga Monastery & Minya Konka Gongga Monastery & Minya Konka

Lisuo Lake

Lisuo Lake (里索海子) is also known as Gongbucuo (贡布措). It is another popular sightseeing and photography site to appreciate the grand Minya Konka and its reflections. Lisuo Lake is about 12km away from Shangjumu Village (上居木村) and 2 km away from Lisuo Pass (里说垭口). Explorers usually ask the locals in Shangjumu Village for a motorbike help to get to the pass and then trekking 2km to get to Lisuo Lake.

Lisuo Lake & Minya Konka Lisuo Lake & Minya Konka

Nama Peak

Though normal extreme trekking and climbing lovers are hardly to get the royal crown on the highest summit above the clouds of Mount Gongga, they have chances to conquer some other challenging peaks around this area. The king is guarded by more than 200 snow-capped mountain soldiers with cool elevation over 5,000 meters above the sea level. Nama Peak (那玛峰) with an altitude of about 5,588m is the most popular one amongst them.

Nama Peak Trekking Nama Peak Trekking

Best Photography Sites to Shoot Mount Gongga

Though the summit conquer is too crazy and not suitable for normal tourists, getting close to Minya Konka and taking unbeatable photos in this marvelous area can still cheer you up at any time. There are tons of great sites to capture photos around Mount Gongga. And the followings are the picks of best photography sites chosen by experienced photographers.

Lenggacuo Lake or Lisuo Lake

A strong sense of contrast between the grandeur of Mount Gongga and the calm composition of the water will perfectly show on the surface of those lakes in Mount Gongga Area. There are more than 10 alpine lakes around Mount Gongga, while Lenggacuo Lake and Lisuo Lake are the select of best lakes to shoot the mountains and the reflections.

Ziya Pass or Yulong West Pass

Passes in Mount Gongga and Western Sichuan area refer to some of the highest points connecting two sides of a hill. Therefore, standing at the passes will give you a feel of getting close to Mont Gongga and offer you a broader view of the surroundings. Amongst all the passes around Mount Gongga, Ziya Pass (子梅垭口) and Yulong West Pass (玉龙西垭口) on the southwest side of Mount Gongga are the most popular sites for sightseeing and photography.

Camp 4 in Hailuogou Glacier Park

No.4 Camp of Hailuogou Glacier Peak is farthest area from the entrance of the park and also the closest place to the main peak Minya Konka of Mount Gongga. Most of the amazing Hailuogou glacier photos with scenery of “Golden Snow Mountain” (日照金山) as backdrop are taken from here.

Xinduqiao

There is an observation deck settled in Xinduqiao Town of Kangding City. Tourists who are driving on their way going further west to Tibet from Chengdu can make a short stop to appreciate Mount Gongga from a distance. It is best view point on the highway.

Gongga Monastery

Gongga Monastery, or called Gongga Temple, sits west of Mount Gongga. From the spaces between two mountains near Gongga Monastery, you will find Mount Gongga rise from the middle. The moment when the sunshine disappears in the afternoon or appears in the early morning will be great, making Mount Gongga a king wearing with a piece of golden robe.

Niubeishan

Niubeishan is also called Cattle Back Mountain because its cattle-back-like shape. It is another famous wild trekking paradise in Western Sichuan region. In the areas high up the mountains in Niubeishan, you will have a panoramic view of the king Mount Gongga and his queen Mount Siguniang.

Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) View from Lenggacuo Lake Mount Gongga (Minya Konka)
View from Lenggacuo Lake
Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) View from Yala Pass Mount Gongga (Minya Konka)
View from Yala Pass
Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) View from Xinduqiao Town Mount Gongga (Minya Konka)
View from Xinduqiao Town
Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) View from Niubeishan Mount Gongga (Minya Konka)
View from Niubeishan

Mont Gongga Trekking Routes

With lush meadow vistas, flourishing alpine flowers, running streams, vivifying forest settled along the trails, trekking, of course, is the best way to admire the sceneries and worship the king Minya Konka. In such a large area of Mount Gongga, trekking routes are far beyond calculated. Its south part, west part, north part and east part are all available for trekking. While it’s southwest region and north region are said to have the best trekking routes with the most picturesque sceneries.

Top 1: Trekking Route with Optional Helps of Local Motorbike & Horses

Highlights: Xinduqiao, Quanhua Beach, Lenggacuo Lake, Lisuo Lake, Minya Konka

Altitude: 3,350m ~ 4,500m

Time Needed: 3~4 days around

Recommended for: Trekkers with alpine hiking experience and do not care much about accommodation

Route Details: Xinduqiao -35km car ride - Jiagenba (甲根坝) -27km car ride- Yaha Pass (雅哈垭口) -30km car ride- Shangmuju Village (上木居村) -7km car ride- Yulong West Village (玉龙西村) -1km trek- Quanhua Beach (泉华滩) -6km trek- Lenggacuo Lake (冷嘎错) -Make a return to Shangmuju Village - Lisuo Lake or go back to Xinduqiao

Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) Trekking Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) Trekking

Top 2: In-depth Camp Trekking Route Requires Much on Experience & Physical Fitness

Highlights: Kangding, Gexi Grassland, Quanhua Beach, Gongga Monastery, Bawang Lake, Minya Konka

Altitude: 2,970m ~ 4,830m

Time Needed: 7 days around

Recommended for: Professional extreme trekkers

Route Details: Kangding -10km car ride- Old Elm Forest (老榆林) -8km trek- Dianzhan (电站) -3km- Gussie Grassland (格西草原) -8km- Liangca River (两岔河) -5km trek - Xiariwuqie (下日乌且) -4km trek - Shangriwuqie (上日乌且) -4km trek - Riwuqie Pass (日乌且垭口) -6km trek - Moxigouwei Campsite (莫溪沟尾营地) -12km trek - Xigan Meadow (西柑牧场) -7km trek - Gongga Monastry -5km- Xiameizi Village (下子梅村) -7km trek - Bawang Lake (巴旺海) -4km trek - Jiebeishi (界碑石) -18km trek - Caoke (草科) - Shimian (石棉) - Drive to Chengdu or Kangding

Mount Gongga Map Mount Gongga Map

Where is Mount Gongga & How to Get There

Mount Gongga, also known as Minya Konka and Gonggashan, is sitiated in Kangding City, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China, with a driving distance of 320km from Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan Province and home to pandas) and 102km from Kangding (the capital city of Garze and the transportation center for whole Western Sichuan region).

Since most tourists coming to Mount Gongga will explore Hailuogou Glacier Park at its foot first, the transportation to Mount Gongga is usually taking how to get to Hailuogou into account.

Usually, tourists get to Hailuogou from Chengdu, which is well-linked by air routes and high speed rail lines with almost every tourist city in China. At present, you can get to Hailuogou Glacier Park by private car or long-distance coach from Chengdu, and it usually takes 5 hours by car. Every day, Chengdu Xinnanmen Bus Station offers about 1-2 coaches in the morning to Moxi Town, which is only several steps away from the ticket entrance of Hailuogou Glacier Park. However, since a Mount Gongga and Hailuogou tour influenced a lot by real-time weather and climate, visitors are more suggested to get there by private cars, which can be rescheduled as you want. Besides, if you are going to do trekking around Mount Gongga, you need to get close to those villages hidden in the mountains by private car first.

We China Discovery based in Chengdu also offer comfortable licensed private vehicle to take you get to Kangding, Hailuogou and villages near Mount Gongga and get around the Western Sichuan in speed and safety, companied by our English speaking tour guide and professional driver. If you need any help of such convenient private car service, please feel free to contact us!

Hailuogou Map Click to Enlarge Chengdu to Hailuogou Transportation Map
Mount Gongga Private Car Service Mount Gongga Private Car Service

Mount Gongga Weather & Best Time

Similar to its queen Mount Siguniang, the weather in Mount Gongga is very complex. Its geographic location and environment determines the vertical distribution of natural and climatic zones, while its huge size and group makes the weather on its different slopes may be different. Therefore, the weather in Mount Gongga varies with altitude rises and slopes changes.

The rainy seasons of Mount Gongga usually comes in mid-June, July, August and September, accounting for 70% of the annual rainfall there. When the rainy seasons comes, it means the worst period of time for Mount Gongga trekking comes too. During this period of time, bright sunny days are rare to see. And it needs a lot of good luck to admire the whole appearance of the king and even the surroundings. So try to avoid these seasons if you have high expectations on trekking. And the months before or after the rainy seasons (October to June) are normally the best time for Mount Gongga trekking and Hailuogou Glacier Park sightseeing, because you will get the clearest scenery of the glaciers, meadows, snow mountains and Minya Konka there.

Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) Horse Riding Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) Horse Riding

Mount Gongga Accommodations & Best Hotels to Visit Mount Gongga

Visitors to Mount Gongga prefer to stay at Moxi Town, which is only 10 minutes’ walking distance to the entrance of Hailuogou Glacier Park and can be reached by long-distance coaches from Chengdu. Moxi Town offers 200+ hotels of 2-star, 3-star and 4-star for you to choose. All of hotels there can meet your basic needs like hot water and shower, while several luxury 4-srat hotels can offer more convenient services like swimming and hot spring.

A great amount of tourists will choose to stay in Kangding City, since this capital city offers more budget and also luxury hotels to select. For tourists who are looking for hotels with beautiful surroundings, they will choose a hotel in Xinduqiao Town of Kangding, which conveniently sits on the side of highways from Chengdu and is known as the paradise for photographers and painters.

For extreme trekkers going to do camp trekking at Mount Gongga, there are more than 10 campsites allowing for camping sleeps, like those passes, Lenggacuo Lake, Moxigou Campsite, etc. However, you are more advised to go with experienced local guides, since it is not a wise choice to sleep alone and trek alone in such a wild area at an altitude over 3,500m and with no signs for directions.

Know more about Where to Stay in Kangding & Xinduqiao >>

Moxi Town Moxi Town
Kangding Downtown Kangding Downtown

Useful Travel Tips of Mount Gongga

1. Tickets and Entrance: The tourist sites of Mount Gongga spread from its east side to west side. Most of its classic attraction spots like Hailuogou Glaciers Park and Yanzi Valley operate and manage separately, with separate tickets charged to enter. However, some other highlights in this huge area have no specific entrances or tickets. Usually, only a light fee of about CNY 30 is charged for parking or environment protection.

2. Altitude Sickness: The altitude of Mount Gongga rises from 1,600 meters to as high as 7,556 meters above sea level, so to avoid or relieve altitude sickness, you need to sleep well, drink enough water, have enough fruits and vegetables, and keep a calm mood to release your body. Strenuous exercise and alcoholic drinks are better to avoid. Drink some Rhodiola Roses (the best altitude medicine of our pick) one week before your Mount Gongga tour may be also helpful.

3. Packing List for Trekking: all those items required for an alpine trekking are needed for trekking Mount Gongga, even you only want a mountainous trekking tour around Minya Konka and the nearby snow-capped mountains instead of getting closer to the summits.

4. Take Your Camera with You: In such a photography paradise, a good camera must be with you all the way. The moving sea of clouds, the scared peaks, vast meadow dotted with yak and wild animals all await you shutter sound.

5. Make Preparation at Least One Week in Advance for Trekking: It required a lot for a good physical condition to trek Mount Gongga. You are suggested to do exercise and physical fitness test at least one week before you go. If possible, get some advises from your doctors.

How to Plan a Mount Gongga Tour

For most tourists want a glimpse of the beauty of Mount Gongga will spend 1~2 days to discover Hailuogou Glacier Park at the foot of Mount Gongga. In Hailuogou Glacier Park, they can get close to rare glacier sceneries in high-quality and great-size and pay homage to the King Minya Konka in a distance. If you want more surprises and impressions of Minya Konka and can bear altitude headaches, you are highly suggested to have a trekking tour to get close to Minya Konka from its southwest side. Such a tour needs 3 days around.

A Mount Gongga tour is always combined with a Kangding & Xinduqiao tour too, because it is really close to these destinations. A Mount Gongga, Xinduqiao & Kangding tour takes about 3~5 days.

>> 4 Days Classic Kangding, Xinduqiao & Tagong Grassland Tour

Since the trekking at Mount Gongga is too difficult for normal trekkers and even experienced trekkers, trekking in his queen’s area Mount Siguniang is more popular and relatively easier to finish. Check more info of Top 4 Mount Siguniang Trekking Routes if you are interested.

>> 4 Days Mount Siguniang Leisure Hiking Tour

Besides, Mount Gongga is located in Western Sichuan, where you can have a taste of Tibet without filling for Tibet Entry Permit, you are really recommended to have more days in this region if you have more time. Take a tour to fulfill the Western Sichuan Small Tourist Loop can be great, along the way you will have opportunities to meet with adorable pandas, traditional Tibetan folk houses, majestic stone forests, fabulous alpine valleys... It takes about 7~13 days.

>> 7 Days Western Sichuan Small Loop Tour

Lenggacuo & Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) Lenggacuo & Mount Gongga (Minya Konka)

Travel Mount Gongga with China Discovery

Be amazed and fascinated by the King Minya Konka? Want a closer distance with the King? Travel with us and let us arrange a sweet date with him for you! We China Discovery based in Chengdu know every highlight and habit of our king and have arranged a lot Mount Gongga tours for worldwide visitors!

If you travel with us, our professional local drivers will escort you to Hailuogou Glacier Park, Kangding and Xinduqiao from Chengdu with comfortable licensed private car! And during your trip, our local guides will accompany you all the way and take care of everything for you, including the best hotel, restaurant, travel means and route, entrance ticket, tips for altitude sickness... Besides, the English-speaking guide will tell you all the glories and holy stories of the king and the surrounding Tibetan villages, monasteries, etc.

The tour can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interest, budget and every special need. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help!

Gongga Monastery & Mount Gongga (Minya Konka) Gongga Monastery & Mount Gongga (Minya Konka)

Recommended Sichuan Tours

Top 3 Sichuan tours chosen by most customers to explore Sichuan in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Hailuogou Glacier Park Large Icefall
3 Days Classic Hailuogou Tour from Chengdu

Chengdu / Hailuogou / Kangding / Chengdu

Xinduqiao Scenic Driving Road in Autumn
7 Days Western Sichuan Small Loop Tour

Chengdu / Dujiangyan / Mount Siguniang / Danba / Tagong / Xinduqiao / Hailuogou / Chengdu

Tagong Monastery in Autumn
4 Days Classic Kangding, Xinduqiao & Tagong Grassland Tour

Chengdu / Hailuogou / Kangding / Xinduqiao / Tagong / Kangding / Chengdu

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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >