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Yamdrok Lake Overlook EarthCache

3.5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size:   not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:

The coordinates for this viewpoint are an arbitrary point on the roadside and NOT the "official" viewpoint further up where you have to pay (because if you go to where the coordinates are, the view is free!). I will accept logs from either however as they are within a few meters of each other, so long as you specify which one you're at!

The difficulty rating for this cache is high because I can't think of a way to get to this part of Tibet that doesn't require a huge amount of preparation. As of this writing, a visit to Tibet requires getting a guide, a Tibet travel permit and one for travel outside Lhasa, a car and driver (land cruiser not required, the road is paved), and of course the near-death experience all driving in Tibet requires. Hooray!
The terrain rating is set because while the overlook point marked by the coordinates is just a few meters from the road, it is just under 5,000 meters in elevation. Don't underestimate the amount of gasping for air any physical activity involves up here!

Yamdrok Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Tibet, and is approximately 100km from Lhasa. The lake (638 km² in area, of depth unknown) is fan-shaped, spreading to the south but narrowing up to the north. The mountainous lakeshore is highly crenelated, with numerous bays and inlets. Lake Yamdrok freezes in winter.
Like mountains, lakes are considered sacred by Tibetan people, the principle being that they are the dwelling places of protective deities and therefore invested with special spiritual powers. Yamdrok Lake is one of four particularly holy lakes, thought to be divinatory; everyone from the Dalai Lama to local villagers make pilgrimages there. The lake is revered as a talisman and is said to be part of the life-spirit of the Tibetan nation and that if its waters dry, Tibet will no longer be habitable.
Which is why a recent hydroelectric project on the lake to produce the largest power station in Tibet has proven so controversial when it opened in 1996. Unlike a river dam where projects block a river's course and create a reservoir behind the dam wall that can then be drained through turbines to produce electricity, this project instead aims to drain water from a natural lake by placing the turbines in tunnels bored into the mountain sides surrounding the lake. After 15 years the lake has a visibly lower water level, and it is still unclear what impact the diminishing coast will have on the local ecosystem.
To log this cache, email me the following:
1. What is your altitude at the current location according to your GPS? (Yes you're very high up- drink some water!)
2. From this site, what are some physical features you can see that give evidence of the shrinking water level?
3. It is estimated that Yamdrok Lake is shrinking by approximately 7.5cm a year. What is the amount of water being drained from the lake every year based on this information?
4. As an optional assignment, do consider posting photos to your log of the lake. It is one of the prettiest spots in all of Tibet!
Note: You cannot log this cache if you visited the site when you weren't geocaching here (such as before the listing was published) as by definition you didn't complete the requirements to log the cache while here. Thanks for understanding!

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Ibyhzr= nern*urvtug, naq 1000 Y = 1 z3 (rknpgyl). Jngpu lbhe havgf!

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)