Tea Horse Road and the Women’s Touch

As a New Year came in I thought back to those whose ‘new’ year’s have not yet come. I thought back to three generations of women who hosted our team on a barren portion of the Tea Horse Road years ago. Their community at over five thousand metres, ‘Ala Dhotok’, bristled with wind and yet our team of dusty husks of glazed eyes and matted hair was welcomed, fed, and sent off with a mountain warmth that remains in the veins still. Within their tent, grandmother spoke of the days of trade and plied us with tea and yak cheese, her daughter cared for her own daughter and our filthy group lay back content in the knowledge that even if for the moment, we were warm and fed.

Nomads along the Tea Horse Road - Jeff Fuchs

Some sips of tea later we made out for the waist deep snows of Nup Gong La (Western Pass), warmer and a bit more sane for our little stop. Good Wishes to you mountain goddesses for your own upcoming year in the snows. Even a great route through the sky like the Tea Horse Road needs the warmth of its people.

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.
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