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Mountain passes have long held me, not only for their ‘gateway’ rolls within the Himalayas, but for their having been witness to so much movement through some of the most stunning – and daunting terrain – on the planet.

Sho’la Pass for as long as anyone can remember, has ushered caravans and pilgrims to and from northwestern Yunnan into – and onto – the eastern flanks of the Himalayas, often taking a terrible toll on life and limb. At close to 5,000 meters it has long been known for its ‘two faces’: one a pristine protector and guide for travelers, and the other, a pass of raging blizzards and pummeling winds. Every year pilgrims and travelers who become disoriented are found in Spring, having perished upon its grand white slopes.

I’ve seen both sides of Sho’La’s moods having crossed its great back many times, and it remains fixed in my mind and heart as a space of unimaginable power and grace; it remains for me a kind of beacon of what mountain travel was (and still is) all about.

This place was recommended by: Jeff Fuchs