The Tea Horse Road Expedition – 8 Years’ On…

Eight years ago this month, a team of mountain men that were in part desperate, utterly tough, and not entirely sure of what was to come, embarked on an expedition to trace what was left of the physical remnants of one of the globe’s most underrated trade routes.

It is time to include some shots and tributes of that journey through the sky.

Nomè (the most patient of all of us) leads our mule team up the Sho'La Pass

Nomè (the most patient of all of us) leads our mule team up the Sho’La Pass

The Tea Horse Road, Cha Ma Dao (Mandarin), and Gyalam (Tibetan for ‘wide road’) ended up taking twice as long to complete – 7.5 months – and ended up being far more about the memories of the last traders, muleteers and participants than it would be about anything else.

Myself and Dorje enjoy a cave-bound hotspring...and briefly contemplate being pious....briefly mind you.

Myself and Dorje enjoy a cave-bound hotspring and briefly contemplate being pious….briefly mind you.

The beings that shared in this odyssey with me: Sonam, Dakpa, Norbu, Nomè, and Dorje ended up becoming epic characters for all time in my mind.

From left: Dakpa (the charmer and linguist), Sonam (aka Spiderman), and Norbu (the Bull) upon the Sho La Pass where 20 minutes after this photo was taken, we almost lost Dakpa in a blizzard

From left: Dakpa (the charmer and linguist), Sonam (aka Spiderman), and Norbu (the Bull) upon the Sho La Pass where 20 minutes after this photo was taken, we almost lost Dakpa in a blizzard

Here a little tribute to them eight-years on from a journey that gave life, risked it, and finally inspired. A tribute too, to the mountains that have – up until now at least – kept us all safe, hemoglobin-rich, and in awe.

Incorrigible, beyond tough, and man I came to refer to as 'the Peter O'Toole of the Mountains'...for reasons both provocative and good.

Incorrigible, beyond tough, and man I came to refer to as ‘the Peter O’Toole of the Mountains’…for reasons both provocative and good.

We were assisted and enriched by some mountains, a lot of tea, and the generosity of those with so very little, but who knew that they had been part of something epic (and by epic, I speak of the old connotation…of something truly huge). The Tea Horse Road was about far more than a route through the sky, a green leaf, or horses…it was about a  segment of rarely told mountain lore.

Kawa Gebo (aka Meili Xueshan, Meili Snow Mountain) in northwestern Yunnan, which threw a blizzard upon us, and very nearly take one of us.

Kawa Gebo (aka Meili Xueshan, Meili Snow Mountain) in northwestern Yunnan, which threw a blizzard upon us, and very nearly take one of us.

A deep bow of appreciation to all of it

What fueled a good deal of the route and our passing along it...tea.

What fueled a good deal of the route and our passing along it…tea.

About JeffFuchs

Bio Having lived for most of the past decade in Asia, Fuchs’ work has centered on indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories with an obsessive interest in tea. His photos and stories have appeared on three continents in award-winning publications Kyoto Journal, TRVL, and Outpost Magazine, as well as The Spanish Expedition Society, The Earth, Silkroad Foundation, The China Post Newspaper, The Toronto Star, The South China Morning Post and Traveler amongst others. Various pieces of his work are part of private collections in Europe, North America and Asia and he serves as the Asian Editor at Large for Canada’s award-winning Outpost magazine. Fuchs is the Wild China Explorer of the Year for 2011 for sustainable exploration of the Himalayan Trade Routes. He recently completed a month long expedition a previously undocumented ancient nomadic salt route at 4,000 metres becoming the first westerner to travel the Tsa’lam ‘salt road’ through Qinghai. Fuchs has written on indigenous perspectives for UNESCO, and has having consulted for National Geographic. Fuchs is a member of the fabled Explorers Club, which supports sustainable exploration and research. Jeff has worked with schools and universities, giving talks on both the importance of oral traditions, tea and mountain cultures. He has spoken to the prestigious Spanish Geographic Society in Madrid on culture and trade through the Himalayas and his sold out talk at the Museum of Nature in Canada focused on the enduring importance of oral narratives and the Himalayan trade routes. His recently released book ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road’ (Penguin-Viking Publishers) details his 8-month groundbreaking journey traveling and chronicling one of the world’s great trade routes, The Tea Horse Road. Fuchs is the first westerner to have completed the entire route stretching almost six thousand kilometers through the Himalayas a dozen cultures. He makes his home in ‘Shangrila’, northwestern Yunnan upon the eastern extension of the Himalayan range where tea and mountains abound; and where he leads expeditions the award winning ‘Tea Horse Road Journey’ with Wild China along portions of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. To keep fueled up for life Fuchs co-founded JalamTeas which keeps him deep in the green while high in the hills.
This entry was posted in Explorations, Mountains, Tea, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Tea Horse Road Expedition – 8 Years’ On…

  1. paul Luif says:

    I want to drink tea !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *