Thu, 18th Apr 2024 23:42 (GMT +7)

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

Monday, 13/11/2023 | 09:10:54 [GMT +7] A  A

Ngu Chi Son Peak, nestled within the Hoang Lien Son pass, beckons adventurers with its sea of clouds, changing maple forests, and blooming flowers.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

Ngu Chi Son, often referred to as "hand mountain" due to its five peaks resembling an outstretched hand reaching for the sky, is nestled within Hoang Lien Son mountain range, straddling the border of Tam Duong District in Lai Chau Province and Sa Pa Town in Lao Cai Province.

Rising to an elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level, it stands as Vietnam's 15th highest peak, renowned for its challenging trekking terrain.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

Ngu Chi Son holds a special place in Nguyen Trong Cung's heart. The 28-year-old hailing from Thai Binh Province has cherished memories from his visit seven years ago. This time, he returned to conquer the peak on Oct. 30-31, only to be astounded by the transformation that had occurred in this trekking haven.

Embarking from Sa Pa, Cung and his group journeyed approximately 25 kilometers to reach the base of Ngu Chi Son Mountain.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

The group chose a slightly smoother route through Lao Cai. However, Cung and local porters found that the path from Lai Chau to Ngu Chi Son's peak, although tough, provided a more scenic route through pristine forests and rolling, cloud-covered landscapes.

A notable highlight of their journey was when, approximately 1.5 kilometers along Highway 4D at an altitude of around 2,200 meters, they encountered Cau May Waterfall, its waters flowing incessantly throughout the year.

With time, the waterfall has carved deep grooves into the rock, shaping a clear blue pool that reflected the nearby mountains and forests. It became a perfect spot for photos in the beautiful setting.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

From the mountain's base, it took Cung's group about five hours to reach a rest camp and an additional two hours to ascend to the summit. Cung, who had scaled numerous northern peaks, noted that Ngu Chi Son stood out for its nearly equal climbing and descent times.

As they ascended, the vegetation changed noticeably, with lower altitudes featuring lush canopy trees like sim - rose myrtle, while higher up, truc lun - sasa humilis and do quyen - rhododendron trees prevailed.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

Around 2,400 meters above sea level, the temperature dropped significantly, enveloping visitors in dense, frigid fog.

The trees in this zone featured rough bark, a natural adaptation to the year-round icy climate. Here, visitors could observe perennial plants like vang tam - manglietia conifera and doi - michelia tonkinensis, along with numerous herbs and valuable medicinal plants like tam that - panax notoginseng, duong quy - angelica sinensis, and the iconic hoang lien - berberidaceae, intricately linked to the majestic mountain range.

This altitude also created an ideal habitat for arboreal species, including moss, orchids, mushrooms, and lingzhi, while the summit showcased an abundance of seaweed, moss, and other diminutive plants.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

The path leading to the Ngu Chi Son summit traced a narrow trail between towering rocky mountains, with an expanse of ethereal clouds above and a profound abyss below.

During this season, maple trees at around 2,000 meters had begun their transition, unveiling shades of yellow and red amidst the cold, misty mountain landscape.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

In addition to the maple forest's autumn transformation, the Hoang Lien mountain range adorned itself with a plethora of blooming flowers, such as utricularia graminifolia, a carnivorous plant that traps flies for sustenance.

"After nearly seven years away, this mountain never ceases to amaze me," Cung said.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

Cung vividly remembered that back then, Ngu Chi Son posed an insurmountable challenge due to steep cliffs and an absence of footholds. His climbing group had to abandon their ascent back then due to the sheer impossibility of proceeding.

Today, paths have been constructed, equipped with wooden ladders to aid in traversing cliffs. According to Cung, this aspect of the Mong people left the most significant impression on the journey. However, the road remains uneven, with some rough sections.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

The ultimate destination of the trek is the mountain peak, rising to 2,800 meters. During the summer, daytime temperatures average 14-17 degrees Celsius, with humidity surpassing 98%.

Nights bring even cooler temperatures, occasionally dipping to 9-10 degrees Celsius, which results in the condensation of cold air, forming the magnificent sea of clouds that envelop the mountaintop and its surroundings.

Cung pointed out that the ideal time to explore Ngu Chi Son is during the last two months of the year. The cold weather, tranquil conditions, and high humidity during this period create the perfect environment for the formation of the sea of clouds.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

A recent rainfall had left the mountain shrouded in fog and steeped in humidity. However, the group was fortunate to encounter the sea of clouds twice on their journey, once in the afternoon as they approached the rest camp, and the next morning at the summit.

Ngu Chi Son, while not necessarily extraordinary when compared to other peaks, impresses with its panoramic 360-degree vistas. On clear days, from the summit, one can behold the breathtaking spectacle of the entire Hoang Lien Son mountain range, including the prominent Fansipan and Pu Ta Leng peaks, along with many others.

Ngu Chi Son Peak: a journey to Vietnam's 15th highest peak

"Ngu Chi Son is more beautiful than many peaks, but its brief climbing time and numerous slopes make it challenging to fully absorb its beauty in a single visit. This is precisely why I continue to return to this place," Cung shared.

For those embarking on the trek to Ngu Chi Son, it's advisable to prepare by strengthening your muscles through stair-climbing exercises. Sturdy boots are essential for navigating the muddy paths and slippery cliffs, while snug attire helps to avoid insect bites.

Two critical considerations include refraining from camping on the mountain's summit due to strong winds and the risk of fire, and ensuring you leave no trace by cleaning up any litter before departing.

Source: VnExpress