"Dropa" is the name for the Tibetan nomads who live in the mountains herding yaks.
The Drogpa-Project, founded by Rosula Blanc and Sonja Mathis aims at a deeper understanding of the yak and to research and integrate the knowledge of the Dropas who live with and through the yaks. Hardly anything is known in Europe about yak ethology and the way of training these animals. Through different projects we want to expand our knowledge and make it available.
Rosula wrote a book about the two month journey she did with Sonja Mathis and three of their yaks and presented the work of the Drogpa-Project at the 5th International Conference on Yak in Lanzhou, China in 2014.
600km, 36 mountain passes, one glacier, eight weeks journey on foot: Rosula Blanc and Sonja Mathis crossed the Alps with their yaks from september 12th to november 6th 2011.
Inspired by the yak caravans which cross the Himalaya carrying salt from the Tibetan plateau to the southern valleys, we wanted to cross the chain of the Alps with our yaks to reach the Mediterranean from our Swiss mountain homes. Although there have been yaks in Europe for about a hundred years now, they have never proven their high endurance and ability to work as pack animals here in Europe. Europeans also never took on the challenge of training and travelling with their own yaks without a native from the Himalaya. With three yaks who carried our tent, sleeping bags and food we traveled through the alpine valleys staying high up on the pastures far from the villages. Rosula and Sonja left their farms in the Swiss mountains in September and walked South at the same time as autumn progressed. As yaks can’t endure high temperatures, the last Indian summer days will were hard for them, while the first autumn snow storms challenged the two women, but the adventure united them. With this “transalpine-marathon” we wanted to demonstrate the yaks capacity for endurance and work as pack animals.
The journey was also meant a tribute to the people in the Himalayas who lived for centuries like this travelling with their yaks. That’s why we created a partnership with two humanitarian organisations who work with yak farming communities in the Himalaya and collected around CHF 8000.- for their projects with our journey.