Bhutanese believes that the Gangkhar Puensum is home to the mythical Yeti and other legendary creatures. While we have sent astronauts to the moon and back and explored the deep recesses of the oceans with the aid of sophisticated technology, there still exist pockets of places on Earth that are still unconquered by man. In the kingdom of Bhutan where nature is revered and well-protected, the Gangkhar Puensum holds the title of being the highest unconquered mountain in the world till date.
Standing majestically at an altitude of 7570m, the Gangkhar Puensum or White Peak of the Three Spiritual Brothers lies on the borders of Bhutan and China. People have heard that Yeti- the mythical animal hails from the great unconquered mountain- the jewel of Bhutan.
Gangkhar Puensum has yet to be successfully mounted and remains one of the precious unexplored areas in an increasingly filled in map of the world. Its a great reminder that there are still countless places of mystery in the world.
The Unconquered Gangkar Phunensum
Since Bhutan opened its doors to mountaineering in 1983, four expeditions had been attempted but none were successful so far. The climbs were somewhat thwarted by various factors: strong winds, frostbite and the perils of scaling the treacherous final ridge which leads to the Gangkhar Puensum’s snowy dome. Bhutan has expressly prohibited climbing on the mountain due not only to the lack of available rescue services in the area, but mainly because of a local custom which held the peaks sacred as they were the homes of holy spirits.
In 1986, a team from Britain, led by Steve Berry had to turn back due to an early winter jet-stream.An Austrian expedition also could not proceed further due to severe monsoon weather.
According to the locals who hail from the remote highlands of Laya and Lunana, the mountains are regarded as sacred places and dwellings for deities and spirits who do not want to be disturbed. In Bhutan there is sacramental relation between the nature and myths which in return helps in conservation of our nature.
Defilement of the summit meant that the wrath of gods would manifest itself in bad weather and even the spread of diseases. Thus, the Bhutanese government banned people from trying to scale the Gangkhar Puensum.
In 1994, a law was implemented out of respect for local spiritual beliefs that mountains higher than 6000m should be prohibited to climbers. Moreover, there is a lack of available high altitude rescue services. In 2003, mountaineering is forbidden completely.
As the Gangkhar Puensum stretches along the borders of Bhutan to China, a group of Japanese tried to scale the unchartered mountain from the Chinese side. Their attempt was met with political outrage from Bhutan and aborted.
The fact that the Gangkhar Puensum is ‘untouchable’ made it all the more enigmatic. Inhabitants in the vicinity have reported the occurrence of bizarre events such as hearing strange noises to seeing mysterious lights and apparitions. The Bhutanese also believe that the Gangkhar Puensum is home to the mythical Yeti and other legendary creatures.
When you think about how Mount Everest has ‘suffered’ from pollution and how it has been tarnished by some climbers, one needs to appreciate Bhutan for enacting the law. Till this day, the Gangkhar Puensum remains largely unexplored and its pristine beauty has been preserved in its natural splendour.