Haba (哈巴), elevation 2,600 m, is a small town in Yunnan Province and is known for its snow mountain (glacier) and high mountain lakes, which can be reached within a two or three day trip. Since the first ascent of the mountain in 1995, the area has become a major mountaineering center, attractive to those seeking a relatively easy 5,000-meter peak. Several thousand attempt it every year.
There is one cash machine in Haba (Nov 2017) but it might take only Chinese cards, so make sure to bring enough cash with you! Small stores near town centre sell food, drink and basic necessities.
The village itself is home to 4,000+ residents encompassing various ethnic groups: Yi, Tibetan, Pumi, Naxi, Lisu, Hui, Han, Bai. The main road through town passes through the Naxi hamlet. Below that is the Han village while above are two Hui (Muslim) hamlets each with its own mosque. The highest hamlet in Haba is occupied by Yi.
From Shangri-la, there is a daily bus (4 hr, ¥60) at 13:30.
From Lijiang you can take a morning bus to Baishuitai and get off in Haba arriving mid-afternoon, ¥38.
From Walnut Garden in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a minibus can be taken for around ¥150 arranged through guest house, 90 min. Alternatively, you can hike in 10 hr from Walnut Garden (a local guide might be needed), but be prepared for significant elevation gain (1,200 meters).
Options limited to walking or local auto arranged through guest house. Streets are unsigned so even walking around may require a guide.
- Hike Haba Snow Mountain - There are two primary hikes up Haba Mountain: to base camp and to the summit. Base camp sits at around 4,100 m and takes about 6 hr to hike to. The elevation at the summit is 5,396 m and takes 8-12 hours round trip from base camp, usually starting at 03:00. A local guide can be hired for ¥300 per day. Two-hundred guides are available for hire, an astonishing number for such a small village, however, none of them speak English (confirmed by Kunming Mountaineering Expedition Association, Dec 2017). Necessary equipment for the trek can all be rented. Ice axes, crampons and poles are a combined ¥200. Warm hat, gloves, coat and sunglasses are ¥50. Supplemental air can be purchased for ¥20 per canister but shouldn't be necessary for just the base camp trek. Spending the night at a dorm room at base camp costs ¥150, and there is a one-time administrative fee of ¥200 to pay for the caretaker. Tent sites nearby are ¥50 but you must still pay the administrative fee. Dinner at base is variable, ¥20-¥35. Most people attempt the summit in 2 to 5 days. Spending a day acclimatizing at Haba Village and/or base camp is suggested if you're not used to the altitude. There's an outfitting company, Haba Haosi Hostel (哈巴好四客栈), on the left just as you enter Haba village from the south with the following contact info: Phone: 139-8884-8381 or 186-0887-2938. They have dorm beds in back. Bao Xiao Ge (包小哥) has guided many parties, contact info below under On The Clouds Haba Guest House. Another experienced guide, Yang Xiangming (杨向明), was part of the team that made the first ascent in 1995, contact info under Haba Snow Mountain Inn below. If an English-speaking guide is required, check this website. Experienced and properly equipped mountaineers may dispense with guides. Camping and route information is available online. For guided parties the failure rate of those seeking to summit is 30-60%, mainly due to weather conditions, lack of acclimatization, or inadequate physical preparation.
- Hike to Black Lake (黑海). Black Lake is a mountain lake, elev 4,100 meters, in a wide basin several km northwest of Haba Snow Mountain. Excellent views of the peak and lower rugged crags from the shore and surrounding slopes. A good time to visit would be May and June, when nearby forests burst into color with rhododendron and azalea blossoms. A brisk walk around the entire lake takes half an hour. Three trails or routes lead to the lake from Haba Village. The shortest, via Jian Shan Waterfall (尖山瀑布), is fairly steep and takes six hours. A longer and more gradual route via Lan Hua Meadow (兰花坪) and an unnamed pass (4,230 m) takes eight hours. Black Lake can also be reached from base camp (4,100 m) in four hours round-trip. This makes a good acclimatization day for climbers intent on reaching the 5,396 m summit. Black Lake can be visited in one very long day, but two or three days may provide a more enjoyable outing. Don't expect to find primeval wilderness here. Ramshackle huts dot the area and herds of yak may be encountered anywhere. Hiring a guide is mandatory for most hikers as mountain trails are unmarked and divergent paths confusing. For multi-day treks, you can hire a mule and handler to haul gear. A separate guide may prove helpful as personal assistant, cook and interpreter of the landscape. Bear in mind that none of the local guides speak English. Guides in their twenties and thirties most likely speak standard Mandarin (Putonghua). Older ones speak dialect that may be incomprehensible to outsiders. For a useful map of the area go to www.OpenTopoMap.org. It shows the lake and trails. Cost of three-day trek to Black Lake: mule and handler 3 x 300; guide 3 x 300; food 3 x 100; tent and sleeping bag rental 200. Total ¥2300 (Nov 2017).
- Hike to Tiger Leaping Gorge. The walk from Haba Village to Tiger Leaping Gorge via Benxi Village takes seven hours. Most will probably hire a guide for the journey. The route heads consistently southeast utilizing open meadows, dirt roads and sometimes obscure forest paths, possibly traversing a short portion of the paved road north of Ennu Village (恩怒村). The high point is a 3,000-meter ridge about an hour from Haba. From there it is all downhill. Crossing a high barbed wire fence may be required in addition to other fences. The route ends up on the paved road above Benxi Village (本习村) which descends to the road through Tiger Leaping Gorge. From there it is six km west (uphill) to Walnut Garden Village (核桃园村), the Ticket Office, Woody's and Sean's Guest Houses. Best not to walk this stretch of the road as it is subject to rockfall, especially in windy weather. Call a guest house for a ride. The reverse journey from TLG to Haba is considerably more strenuous, with an altitude gain of 1,200 meters. Cost for guided walk: about ¥400. This includes transport of personal gear from Haba to a guest house in TLG, as well as guide's transport back to Haba.
- Circular hike around Haba Snow Mountain. The trek around Haba Snow Mountain takes 5-8 days. Total distance 85 km of which about 20 km is on paved roads. The high point is Jizhi Pass (4,350 m) south of Black Lake, the low point Qiaotou (1,850 m) near start of Tiger Leaping Gorge. General route: Haba, Black Lake, Jizhi Pass, Jizhi Valley, Qiaotou, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Ennu Village, Haba. Most of the route is shown on maps online.
- Muslim Restaurant (100 meters up the road on the left from Haba Snow Mountain Inn).
Haba has around twenty guest houses catering to the many visitors who come to climb the mountain. May be crowded during weekends and public holidays. Guest houses will make arrangements for guides, mules, equipment, etc.
- Haba Snow Mountain Inn (centre of town, opp Haba Hostel), ☏ , . Basic accommodation with wonderful friendly hostess, Yang Xiulan (杨秀兰) who speaks limited English. ¥80, twin without bathroom; ¥150, double or triple ensuite.
- Haba Hostel (centre of town, opp Haba Snow Mountain Inn). Functional hotel, rooms have TV. Restaurant on ground floor ¥100, twin with ensuite bathroom.
- On The Clouds Haba Guest House (云上哈巴客栈) (in the Muslim hamlet, 20 min walk uphill from centre of town), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Gregarious host Bao Da Ge (包大哥) speaks Chinese only, can communicate with English speakers using cell phone app. The only place in town with a generator for when the power grid goes down. TV, Wifi. Double ensuite, ¥168. Triple, ¥188. Five-person, ¥268. Breakfast, lunch ¥25, dinner ¥45.