On July 12, 2013, together with Swiss Luciano Lepre, I reached the source of the Mekong at the foot of the glacier of Jifu Mountain, in the emptiest parts of China’s Qinghai province.
The next day we also visited the source at Guosongmucha Mountain, still favored by some as the Mekong’s true source on the grouds that the tributary running from here has a higher water discharge than the river running from Jifu, even though the Jifu source is located higher and its river is longer.
It is tempting to think we are the first ever to have reached both these sources. Expeditions that since the mid 1990’s set out to establish which is the Mekong’s real source very strangely concentrated on either Guosongmucha or Jifu and didn’t bother to visit the other.
I had come close to reaching the Jifu source a year ago, as you can see in previous blog posts. Trickles of Mekong water made their way between stones, pebbles, a first patch of snow. I half counted my source bid, but there was nagging doubt: my gps-track of the trip projected on Google Earth subsequently showed I had been a mere 140 meters away from the start of a snow field that looked like the source. I found out this time it was in fact even another kilometer to the glacier foot, located 250 meter higher. It feels good – make that: very good – I am left with no doubts this time about reaching the Mekong’s source.
Postscript Later I determined that this highest glacier, where the Mekong starts, is not on Mount Jifu, but on the mountain to its west. The GPS location mentioned is correct.