As the holiest mountain of the four religions, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon religion, Jainism, and Hinduism, pilgrims from Tibetan-inhabited areas and neighboring countries travel thousands of kilometers to Mt. Kailash. They make this journey to finish their dream of a lifetime, which is to complete the merit-making kora around the 52km outer circuit. Apart from the pilgrimage journey, trekking around Mt. Kailash is also worldly popular among adventurers and hikers. Located in the westmost of Tibet, Mt. Kailash belongs to one of the coldest and aridest prefectures - Ngari. Mt. Kailash in its long and harsh winter is basically not advisable for tourists to visit.
Mt. Kailash is 195 kilometers southwest of Shiquanhe Town (4,280m), which is the seat of Ngari’s prefectural administrative office and also the location of Ngari Gunsha Airport. The other important town in the Mt. Kailash area is Darchen, which is the nearest town; therefore, it has become the starting point and ending point of the trekking tour of Mt. Kailash. Many tourists travel to Mt. Kailash from Lhasa by taking an overland road trip, the route of which is roughly 1,200 kilometers. So, to prepare for the trip to Mt. Kailash, when considering weather, you’re advised to read data about Darchen and Shiquanhe, Ngari and Lhasa.
Mt. Kailash Temperature
Considered inhospitable, Ngari has the longest winter in Tibet. The annual temperature in this prefecture is 0℃. And the daily temperature difference is dramatic. The warm season matches the typical summer from June to August, when the average high float is around 20℃. January and December have the lowest average of -20℃. An extreme case indicated a record temperature of -40℃.
|Year Temperature Table of Shiquanhe, Darchen, Lhasa (Unit: ℃)|
|Towns and Month||Shiquanhe||Darchen||Lhasa|
Note: The table above indicates the towns near Mt. Kailash or with convenient transportation to Mt. Kailash. The real weather condition along the trekking route through Mt. Kailash can be harsher and make you feel much colder.
Wind Condition of Mt. Kailash
Ngari is in a region under the impact of the non-monsoon season. Its annual wind speed reaches over 3.2m/s, and the high wind level is a scale 8 or above. The wind season of Ngari (from December to May), in great proportion, overlaps with wind season of the rest of Tibet (from November to May); and March sees the windiest days and highest level of wind. In total, the annual amount of wind days in Ngari is around 149.
Precipitation of Mt. Kailash
The total annual precipitation in Ngari is quite small, with a strong seasonal feature. The rainfall of Ngari is concentrated during the period from May to September, consisting of more than 80% of the annual precipitation, while between October to April of the following year, the rainfall makes up only 10% to 20% of the annual amount. The wet season in the Mt. Kailash area lasts for roughly one month and a half, normally from the mid-July to the end of August. The remaining 10 months are dry with hardly any rain, from August to the early July of the following year.
The length of a day varies from 10 hours to 14 hours, with the shortest days being in December and the longest days being in June. At an elevation of 6,656m, the air is thin and the UV rays are strong. It is essential to protect your skin and eyes with a neckerchief, sunglasses, and sunscreen. It is suggested to apply the sunscreen to your skin multiple times per day. For those traveling during the warmest times, it is helpful to prepare layered clothing and removable sleeves for your comfort.
Weather-based Trekking Tips at Mt. Kailash
1. It will be wise to bring sufficient amounts of food. You should bring lightweight and high-calorie foods. The advisable place to do your shopping is Lhatse or Shiquanhe Town. They are both at convenient traffic locations and thus have all the basic commodity supply supplies that you'll need.
2. Eco-friendly packing note: Giving that Mt. Kailash is located in one of the most remote regions of Tibet, the consequence leads to the inadequate manpower for trash collecting, so please be kind to the vulnerable eco-system and by picking up your own trash and taking it with you out of these towns.
3. Travel light. Before you start trekking, ensure that your body is under the least amount of physical stress necessary from the package. You can leave your luggage at the guesthouses or hotels where you're staying in Darchen.
4. You can hire a yak or porter to carry your belongings. The porter can also serve as a trekking guide to make sure you’re on the right route in the right direction. Be sure to make a fair deal about the price and measurement to avoid any potential dispute.
5. If you are planning to trek during the peak season (Mid-May, June, September and October), it is recommended that you book a tour at least 2 months in advance. That way your tour operators can successfully reserve room for you in local hotels; if you happen to set off your trip in the last minute during the busy times, you may find there are no vacant rooms. A cold-resistant portable sleeping bag, which can keep you warm down to -5℃ temperature, is high recommended to ensure that you have a pleasant overnight stay.