As you’d probably think, the trails of Nepal’s Khumbu Himalaya is chock full of yaks. Well as we found out it’s not that simple. Yaks (གཡག) have a very specific habitation zone and don’t do well below 3,000 meters. Down low most of the ‘yaks’ you see are actually dzopkyos, yak-cow hybrids that cope with warmer temps. Then there are the dzums, langs, khirkoos, dris and naks (female pure breeds). Yak cheese actually comes from Naks.
Regardless what you call them, most of the traffic jams in the Khumbu involve a yak or two. They are the 18 wheelers of the Himalaya, heavily laden and slow moving. Staring an oncoming yak train in the face is much the same as an unstoppable Freightliner. It quickly becomes clear that it is up to you to get clear of the beast’s trail-spanning horns. One of our friends has a harrowing tale of getting caught half-way across a suspension bridge by a yak train. He climbed to the outside of the bridge and hung on while they rushed by. Good move, as we watched many trekking parties get caught on single-lane spans and not fare so well.