LAO CAI – The road to Nam Kang Ho Tao is challenging for climbers because of many steep slopes, large fast-flowing streams, and steep cliffs.
Nam Kang Ho Tao Peak is 2,881 m high in Hoang Lien National Park. The peak belongs to sub-zone 303 A, Hoang Tha Thau mountain in Ta Trung Ho village, Ban Ho commune, Sa Pa district. This is one of the dream destinations of adventurous backpackers because of the difficulty and wild beauty of the mountains.
Since 2017 Nam Kang Ho Tao has been known to backpackers and immediately crossed Pusilung to become the most difficult mountain to conquer in the Northwest because of its long-distance, many steep cliffs and fierce streams.
In the last days of April, we followed the national park’s experts and rangers to survey the top of Nam Kang Ho Tao to assess the potential and put it into operation officially and safely for tourists. guest.
The survey trip lasted 3 days and 2 nights, going and returning in the direction of Ta Van commune, Sa Pa district, Lao Cai province with a total length of 32 km. Before that, tourists who conquered Nam Kang Ho Tao often climbed spontaneously. Climbers usually follow the direction through Thao A village, Tan Uyen district, Lai Chau province, and then return to the old road (50 km) or go to Lai Chau and return to Ta Van street (44 km).
Departing from Sa Pa, we took a car about 30 km but it took 2 hours to reach Ban Ho commune due to foggy weather, and small and bad roads. After meeting with local porters, the group started the journey to conquer Nam Kang Ho Tao at 8:30, 2 hours later than planned.
The road from Ban Ho to Da stream is quite long, about 4 km with gentle slopes through many areas of people’s living and open forest. There is only a hard way to go is the steep upper slope near the Da stream.
300-year-old pomelo tree on Nam Kang Ho Tao climbing road. Photo: Dung Khuat
After nearly 3 hours of climbing and resting, we came to Da stream – the largest stream in the Northwest. The stream is wide, the water is fast. The delegation was guided by rangers and porters to cross the stream by wearing quick-drying shoes and wading, not barefoot because it is easy to fall on slippery rocks.
After that, we continued for about an hour to a small shack built by the people next to the stream and took a break for lunch. The menu includes sticky rice, Thai black rice cake, served with spring rolls and watermelon dessert.
The long and steep slopes and craggy cliffs are challenging for climbers.
After the lunch break, the group continues from 13:30, through two large waterfalls including Bay waterfall to reach the longest and steepest slope of the climb. The slope is so long that everyone has to crawl and cling with two hands to climb. Fortunately, the weather that day was quite cool, and walking under the canopy of the primary forest, it only took about 2 hours to cross the slope.
On the way, we continued to cross many large and small streams pouring down from the top. There are a total of 14-15 streams on the entire journey.
The first group of the delegation arrived at the shack at 4 pm, where everyone planned to spend the first night. After the calculation, we continued to go to the rest of shack 2 closer to the top. The road from here constantly crosses and squeezes a large stream, it’s easy to get lost, so you have to stick to each other. We arrived at shack 2 located on the land between two small waterfalls at 17:30.
While the porters prepared dinner, we set up a tent together to spend the night because the shack was quite small, only accommodating about 10 people. Bathing in the stream after a hard day of climbing is indispensable for climbers. Cold spring water will help the body recover quickly, also the main source of water for the group to drink for 3 days.
Dinner at 19:30, after eating, everyone quickly went to bed to save energy for the next day to reach the top.
The next day, we hit the road at 7 o’clock. Heavy rain throughout the night made the group depart about an hour later than planned. The road from here to the top still has to pass several large streams. The slippery road caused almost everyone to fall several times and 4 people had to give up and return to the shack.
From the shack to the top, you have to go through two dangerous cliffs. According to Ms. Tran Thi Thanh, Head of the Tourism Development Department of Hoang Lien National Park, Nam Kang Ho Tao is a very difficult climb, only for those with experience and very good physical strength.
“The climb has many places to go through dangerous cliffs and streams, especially in bad weather conditions. We will work with local people to find a new path to replace or install wooden steps and stairs to ensure the safety of visitors, “Ms. Thanh.
At 9 am we reached Yen Ngua peak – the fork in the road dividing the way to Lao Cai, Lai Chau, and to the top of Nam Kang Ho Tao. After overcoming the steep slopes and going up and down continuously, the first group of the delegation touched the stainless steel spire on the top at 10:30, which is more than 3 hours of climbing from the shack.
We took pictures at check-in and had lunch together before going down the mountain at 12:30. Everyone returned to the shack to pack up, then moved down to shack 1 immediately for fear of rain, possibly stuck because of rising spring water. This year’s rainy season comes early, it rains heavily every night and is sunny during the day.
At 5:00 p.m., the last members of the group returned to shack 1, then had dinner and spent the night here to go down the mountain the next morning.
The road from Yen Ngua to the top of Nam Kang Ho Tao goes under the forest of maple leaves and ancient rhododendrons. The azalea season is almost over, the petals are falling all over the ground.
The night rain made the road more difficult due to the slippery. The water in all the springs rose and flowed rapidly. When we returned to Da stream, we couldn’t go through the same way we went two days earlier. The porters had to go upstream to lead the group through a fallen tree lying across a large, fast-flowing stream. Without this tree, we will be stuck and have to wait at least 1-2 days before the spring water recedes. The group returned to Ban Ho commune at 13:30 to move by car to Sa Pa, ending the journey.
Photo: Duc Hung, Dung Khuat
Keyword: The most dangerous mountain climbing palace in the Northwest