Stage 4: Lo Manthang → Konchok Ling (4100m) → Nyiphu → Garphu → Nyamdo → Tinggar (4030m) → Namgyal (3910m) → Lo Manthang.
Today is a loop run to the north of Lo Manthang on a mixture of terrain, from grazing pastures to surreal arid landscapes. If it were anywhere else in the world, it would make a classic trail race on its own.
Leaving Lo, we descend to cross a river before making a long steady climb along the road that heads for China/Tibet. The trails from here are level, crossing rivers and winding from ancient village to ancient village and onto the caves. But first we divert along a dry valley to its head to perhaps the only check point on a race with cave paintings in the Tibetan Buddhist style.
Konchok Ling, ‘discovered’ in 2007, is one of a remarkable series of caves sheltering some fine and extremely old paintings. (See more images here.)
Turning back down the valley, the next checkpoint is in perhaps the first skyscraper, a 5-story system of caves built into a cliff. This is close to the the famous cave villages of Nyphu and Garphu.
The trail continues into the northern reaches of Mustang onto smooth trails through grazing pastures which return, after a small climb, to Lo Manthang on a slight downward slope. This is perfect running terrain.
|Distance||29.1 km||18.1 mi|
|Elevation gain/loss||↑ 1063m ↓ 1063m||↑ 3,488ft ↓ 3,488ft|
|Start Finish elevation||3820m→3820m||12,533ft→12,533ft|
Stage Profile! Some short steep climbs through the day, but in general a very runnable stage! Just the 4000m altitude will slow you down!