Location: North 21.57071, East 104.30650 (GPS at the summit)
Difficulty: YDS class 1
Climbed July 12. 2018.
How to get there:
A good point of reference is the town of Nghia Lo. One can easily travel
there by car (or bus) from Hanoi. This town has restaurants and hotels etc.
From Nghia Lo, follow the road up a nice valley to Tram Tau, where there is
a road fork. When I was there, the road from Nghia Lo to Tram Tau was in
pretty bad condition. There were road works virtually everywhere, but progress
looked slow. The road is narrow and runs quite high above the river (that you
will have on your left) all the way. It took us more than one hour to drive this
section of the route.
As you arrive at the intersection in Tram Tau, turn right (up the valley).
There are many houses and farms along this road and the first part is easy to
drive. In fact, a sturdy 4WD should be able to make it all the way to the
trailhead. My driver (and his vehicle) was not up the the task and
we parked atlocation N21.50103, E104.36671, elevation about 760 meter.
I continued on a motor-bike as far as a big gate which is part of the
entrance area to a mine. This is the trailhead, location
N21.53673, E104.31765, elevation about 1200 meter.
The route to this summit
follows a very agreeable trail all the way.
Pass through the big gate and pick the rough uphill road that goes a bit right.
On top of the first hill, leave the road and ascend steeply uphill in loose sand
(you should see steps from other people), about 20 meter to gain a horizontal
road above. Follow this road left until it ends with some buildings belonging to
the mine. Go to the left of the buildings, descend on loose rocks in order to
cross to the uphill slope on the other side. This is perhaps the worst part of
the entire route. Ascend the slope, the trail will become clearer as you gain a bit
of elevation. You top out on a small flat plateau and a clear trail continues
into the valley. Follow this trail as it gains a few more open areas. Soon, there is
more uphill and in a spot on the hillside, what looks like the best trail continues
more horizontal. Do not foillow that trail, but pick
your way directly uphill, the trail
will soon be much better defined again. Higher up, where you may hear the sounds from
a creek on your left, there is yet another fork where the seemingly best trail
runs horizontally to your left. Do not follow this, but continue uphill (right).
The trail climbs the slope in many zig-zags,
then gains the ridge. This ridge (steep
drop to the right) is followed with a few smaller ups and downs until you enter a new,
main hillside slope. Higher up, the trail becomes less well defined since there are
many domstic animals (Goats, Cows and Horses!) that have created additional trails up here.
Do not traverse left, but pick your way on connecting trails that continue
uphill until you reach the main crest above. Turn more left and follow the main
ridge, crossing a few small stone fences along the way, until you arrive at the
main summkit plateau with an official summit marker.
In planning this peak, I knew that it would be a long day and that several
things could go wrong, making this attempt not succeed.
We had arrived in Hanoi the previous day and driven to the village of
Nghia Lo. I decided that we needed to start at first light, thus leaving
our accommodation by 0500. The drive to Tram Tau was slow, the road was
subject to repair work in more than a dozen places, otherwise very narrow
and quite rough.
Once in Tram Tau, the road up the valley was narrow, but good serving the
first several farms. A bit further along, my driver decided he could not
drive any more and I asked him to help me rent transport by motor-bike.
This was quickly arranged and pretty soon I had arrived at the gate to the mine.
Starting my hike at 0715, I was happy to find a reasonable trail. No leeches,
no jungle blocking the trail, not very steep so my shoes had reasonable
traction etc. No issues really, a nice morning with fresh air. I made good
progress and soon met the goats on the upper part of the mountain. My navigation
was not perfect and I got a bit off route due to all the animal tracks, however
no big issue. I
made the summit at 1100, so 3:45 up. Somewhat to my surprise
I was not alone, about 10 cows had
decided to climb to the very top as well.
I rested 30 minutes, then descended in 2:00 back to the gate. My motorcycle
transport was waiting and soon we could begin the drive back to Nghia Lo.
We needed to get to our hotel in Sapa that day, this was more than 5 additional
hours of driving from Nghia Lo. This all worked well, as we arrived
around 2130 at our reserved accommodation in Sapa.