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The Japanese Alpine Club

Vol. 14 2013

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Vol. 14 2013

JAPANESE ALPINE NEWS Pioneering Expeditions, Notable Ascents & Adventures and Scientific Field Research


FEATURE Unknown Heartlands of China’s Wilderness – Chang Tang

Janne Corax…



SICHUAN SPECIAL Future Alpine Paradise – Gangga and Kawarori Tamotsu Nakamura… German Minya Konka – First Ascent of Pk 5,910 m Max Dünßer… First ascent of Kameilong 2012, Genyen Massif D. Anderson & Szu-Ting Yi… Rock Temples in Tibetan Buddhists Homelands Tamotsu Nakamura… Tibetan Buddhist Institute in West Sichuan Hengduan Mountains Club…

…… 11 …… 19 …… 26 …… 30 …… 42

CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS The Prow of Shiva 2012, Indian Himalaya Nima Line: First Ascent of South Pillar of Kyashar The PLATEAU – North Sikkim Zanskar 2012 – Exploration of Virgin Peaks Ascent of P6080 (L13): KUAC Zanskar 2012 Ascent of 6,165 m: JAC Students team Zanskar 2012 Bulgalian Karakoram Khane Valley 2012 Phase II First ascent of Baimang Xueshan 2012, Yunnan Acuan Massif or Cordillera Rosco, Peru Andes

Mick Fowler… Yasuhiro Hanatani… Harish Kapadia… Kimikazu Sakamoto… Hiroaki Ogihara… Taisuke Ohori… Michail Michailov… Chinese party… Antonio G. Bohorquez…

…… 47

Johanna Ficatier… Tatsuo Inoue… Tamotsu Nakamura…

… 108

…… 53 …… 57 …… 68 …… 82 …… 87 …… 91 …… 97 … 101

SURVEYS AND CULTURES Alpinism and Japanese Mountains Culture Glaciers receding in Kangr Garpo, Eastern Tibet Mountains of Goddess, Damyon in Gorge Country

… 112 … 118

Cover photo: C elestial Peak (Pomiu) 5,413 m south face, Siguniang Massif, Sichuan – China (Tamotsu Nakamura)



Tamotsu Nakamura

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The Japanese Alpine Club 5-4 Yonbancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0081, Japan Phone : 03-3261-4433 Fax : 03-3261-4441 E-mail : Web : ©2013 The Japanese Alpine Club



The First Ascent of Lopchin Feng (KG-2) 6,805m Unknown Heartlands of Chinaʼs Wilderness Autumn 2009 Expedition to the Kangri Garpo East Mountains, Tibet Four Years of Exploratory Mountaineering in the Chang Tang Plateau

Jeff on his way down from the summit of Jiao Feng

Map-1 Climbing route to Lopchin Feng

Summit view looking south from Jitanzhoma 1


Unclimbed Gyalongsum from Jitanzhoma

Kalurung from Jitanzhoma 2


Burog Co and the Zangser Kangri Range

Nadine looking at Kangzhagri, still three day's walk away 3


2007 Kangzhagri – a second attempt, four years later In 2003 Nadine Saulnier and I crossed the Chang Tang plateau. It was the first time it was ever crossed from the north to the south completely unsupported. It took us 46 days and we almost paid for it with our lives. In a way it was a success, but we had failed to reach the summit of Kangzhagri, arguable the hardest to reach of all 6,000 m peaks. When we in the winter of 2007 got to know other expeditions planned to make an attempt to climb the mountain we decided to give the peak a second try. We knew the competitors were going during the drier and more suitable fall season and that had been the reasonable thing to do also for us, but we saw no choice but making an attempt in the middle of the summer, during the season of heavy precipitation. All in order to get there first. We bought all provisions locally in the small dusty towns in the Qinghai Province and packed our bicycles with 50 days worth food and fuel. We had no interest in using motorized vehicles as we considered it a failure in terms of going by fair means. Also, we doubted we could reach the peak at all if using this setup. A huge, badly planned, heavy Swedish expedition had proven that early in the year and it had gotten hopelessly stuck over 200 kilometers from the peak. When we started our trip from the little town of Huatugou our bikes weighted about 80 – 90 kilos each. As soon as we reached the plateau proper the monsoon weather struck us with full force. Rain, thunderstorms and blizzards became our companions during the whole journey and at one point we didn t see the sun for nine consecutive days. Needless to say we couldn t cycle much. Our steel horses were our pack animals and one of the few alternatives to bring in enough provisions for a venture like this. After we had crossed the Kunlun Shan we decided to leave the bicycles as the terrain got really muddy and tough. We packed our backpacks with food for 15 days and set off for the peak on foot, which was still about 85 km away. 27 days and about 600 km after we had left Huatugou we were finally at the foot of the peak. By incredible luck we had a clear and quite calm morning and our way to the summit was relatively uneventful. We had some encounters with small crevasses, but apart from that it was an easy climb to the summit of one of the world s most inaccessible and desolate peaks. It took us about two weeks to get back to civilization again and from there Nadine went home while I continued to Kashgar, the old Silk Route town in Xinjiang.

Dahongliutan Kunlun After some climbing in the Kongur and Muztagh Ata area I teamed up with Jeff G. and went to the Dahongliutan Kunlun. As acclimatization for higher targets we first summited Sirenshou (6,214 m), a peak south-west of Highway 219. Two days later we climbed another 6,000 m peak close by and were struck by surprise when we found a large military cairn on its summit. Yet some days later we were at the foot of Qierlizuoke Feng (6,802 m), the highest peak in the area. The night before our planned summit day it was snowing heavily. There was a lot of fresh snow on the peaks the following morning and we had to turn back at roughly 6,350 m due to severe avalanche danger. As a small compensation we successfully summited Jiao Feng (6,370 m) two days later, where we escaped being avalanched with small margin.

Biking towards Tibet and some mountains along the road Jeff left for home and I continued my bike ride towards central Tibet. On the way I hiked to the summit of little Satsum Kang (5,951 m) just beside the road and made a failed attempt on Sirengou I 4


(6,503 m). Also here there was a lot of fresh snow and I found it smart to head down before disaster struck. The highest point I reached was about 6,400 m. Some hours after I had left the peak a small avalanche swept over the route I had been on. I later made a stupid choice of route on Guozha Kangri (6,262 m). Only a dozen vertical meters below the summit I had to turn back due to a very unstable cornice on the summit ridge. It was a humbling as well as disappointing experience to have failed on three out seven targets in a short period of time.

The Toze Kangri Massif Close to the little settlement Sumxi i met up with three other climbers, also traveling by bicycle. On small roads we made our way towards the Toze Kangri massif in the outskirts of the Chang Tang. As they kept a slow pace and I arrived at the main massif days ahead of them I climbed some small peaks in the area. I was very surprised to find a summit cairn on a little peak (5,796 m) NNW of the main range. When the rest of the gang arrived I summited what probably is the secondary peak in the range with one of the other persons in the group. I say probably as the GPS readings from the summits are very close. This summit we called Toze Kangri SW (6,366 m). Two days later I soloed the highest summit in the Toze Kangri range, the NE peak which measured 6,369 meters by GPS. Yet again two days later I stood on Toze Kangri Pyramid (6,029 m), a smaller peak in the west part of the range. I had plans for more peaks in the area, but after an accident with involving gasoline and food I had to get back to civilization a.s.a.p. The following month I crossed the Gangdise range and made my way to Lhasa, where I also spent New Year. The winter was spent trekking smaller peaks close to Lhasa.

Winter and early spring climbing in central Tibet In early 2008 I made an unsuccessful new route attempt on Kaluxung (6,674 m). Fierce winter winds almost blew me off the summit ridge and I had to turn back about 100 meters shy of the summit. In equally violent winds I managed to make it to the summit of Jitanzhoma (6,028 m) a peak in the outskirts of the Noijin Kangsang massif. After the riots in Lhasa in March it was very hard to travel freely in Tibet, but I made it to Pulha Ri, a 6,424 meter peak in the western parts of the Lhakoi Kangri Range. The peak wasn t difficult, but frozen waterfalls in the gorges leading to the peak made the expedition demanding and as usual during the cold months the winds were strong and unpredictable. On summit day there was a break though and I had wonderful views of the high Himalaya and it was a great feeling to enjoy the scenery showing six of the world s 8,000 meter peaks in splendid sunshine.

A long Chang Tang traverse again My journey had taken me to Golmud in the Qinghai province and in early summer of 2008 I met up with Nadine Saulnier and M. A. We equipped ourselves with provisions for 60 days and once again we were heading into the wild, desolate and barren Chang Tang Plateau. Oddly enough the weather was completely different from the year before and we didn t have more than half a dozen snowy days. On our journey towards the interior of the plateau I was suffering not having the time to climb anything in the Ayalik, Qimantag and Fujian Ranges and when we had crossed the Kunlun and passed on the southern side of Ulugh Muztagh (6,973 m) it was almost painful passing it without giving it a closer look. After 36 days in the sole company of wolves, wild yaks and chirus we finally arrived at our first target of the journey – Kukuxili, or Songzhiling (6,388 m). 5


On summit day the weather was very bad and at times we had visibility down to only a meter. The peak s location and our small supplies of food made us push on regardless of the fact that we had no idea where the summit was located, nor what the rest of the climb looked like. With the help of GPS coordinates we finally found the highest point of the peak where we placed a horn of a chiru as a tribute to these beautiful animals of the plateau. As our plan was to cross the plateau we went dead south from here towards our next goal.

Burog Co and Purog Kangri Nine days after we had left Kukuxili, on day 47 of our journey, we arrived at Burog Co, a large beautiful lake at roughly 5,200 m. On both sides of the lake large glaciers on the mountain ranges are feeding the lake with melt water and we aimed for the west side as our plan was to make an attempt on Purog Kangri. The peak was an easy walk so if we may have been a little bit disappointed by the ease of the climb the views made up for it. They were absolutely astonishing and it s for sure one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. It s also the only place where I have seen larger mammals over 6,000 m. A group of chirus had escaped the summer heat of the lowlands and were basking in the sun on 6,150 m. When we finally reached Gomo Co on day 53 we were down to our last meals and we gratefully accepted some rice and tea from the first nomads we met close to the lake shore. They were the first human beings we had seen for 39 consecutive days. The total length of this traverse was roughly 1100km and took 55 days.

2010 – Altun / Arjin Shan In the fall of 2010 I once again arrived in Huatugou and I was happy to be back for another expedition in the highlands of western China. As usual my bicycle was my pack animal, porter or mula. My company this time was Lars B. and we first focused on Aleke Tag (6,080 m), which sometimes also goes under the name Akato or Yusupu Aleketag. The mountain is located in a very dry area and I was surprised that the glacier system was as large as it was. The views from the summit were splendid with the Taklamakan Desert in the north and the Kunlun Shan with all its sub-ranges and the eerie emptiness of Chang Tang in the south. Qimantag Shan is a small obscure range at the northern shores of one of the world s largest saline lakes, Ayakkum Hu. Our plan was to make a first ascent of the highest peak in the range, but due to really bad weather we failed with the navigation. We reached a peak which probably is the second or third highest in the group. Its elevation measured from the summit is 5,551 meters. After crossing the incredibly muddy Fujian Shankou (a mountain pass of approximately 5,100 meters) we went for a lonely peak which doesn t really belong to any of the more distinct ranges in the area. Fujian Feng (5,866 m) was climbed quickly and Lars joked that it almost felt like a rest day to climb a 6,000 m peak, compared to hauling the heavy bikes through mud and ice cold rivers day after day. I concurred. Usually, when on expeditions like the described, one can t get close enough to climb the peak from where the bikes have to be left behind. It had always been some days walking from the last bike camp to the Mountain BC . When we arrived at the east end of the Ayalik range we were surprised to find out that we only had 4 km to the summit of Ayalik East (5,952 m) from there we had had to stop hauling the bikes. We were very lucky in terms of timing and just when we arrived at the summit a fierce wind started 6


to pound us. With mild frost bite on two fingers we made it back to the tents. We traveled along the full length of the Ayalik Range until we arrived at the foot of the highest summit. It was the trickiest of the climbs on the journey and avalanche prone slopes, unstable corniced ridges and gullies with massive rock fall almost made me turn back. Finally I reached the summit, which actually is a huge boulder on top of a narrow ridge. I was happy to reach the 6,167 meter high summit, but also a bit sad as I knew this was the last summit on that year s trip.

Central Kunlun 2011 – 2012 In 2011 M. and I completely failed to get anywhere in the maze of gorges and sandy areas in the foothills on the northern side of the Kunlun Shan. We went back in 2012 and the first target was the lonely and highly coveted peak Ak Tag. The peak marks the highest point in between Ulugh Muztagh and Qong Muztagh and a few expeditions have tried to reach its 6,758 m high summit. Most had stranded very early as the gorges leading to the plateau are very hard to navigate and also dangerous due to flash floods and rock fall. About a fortnight after the start from Kashgar we finally reached the lake some 30 km far from the peak. M. had decided to go home and I was all of a sudden alone on the project. A blizzard struck on 5,800 m and I had to ride it out for 48 hours. As there was a lot of fresh snow I had to resort to some shorter passages of rock climbing in order to stay safe from avalanches. The northern side of Ak Tag is a 700 m almost vertical wall, but the southern side holds no technical obstacles apart from a small vertical ice wall just below the summit ridge. In wonderful weather I reached the summit and I once again had the fantastic opportunity to gaze out from yet another previously unclimbed summit. The original plan had been to continue to other virgin summits in the area, but as I my partner had bailed out I found no other solution than turning back to civilization. I comforted myself with the fact that the mountains would be there for a very long time to come and I promised to return as soon as I got the opportunity.




Alternative name






Summit Failure Summit Summit Failure Summit Summit Failure Failure Summit Summit Summit Summit 1,243



Under equipped/avalanche danger Cornice danger

Avalanche danger

Eye problems/contact lenses


89°34'40" 75°06'45" 79°13'42" 79°12'34" 79°27'38" 79°26'41" 80°12'28" 80°17'21" 80°20'52" 82°07'15" 82°19'51" 82°21'52" 82°12'56"

Failure Winds/frostbite Summit Summit Summit Summit

1,288 9,68 9,64

35°33'25" 38°13'54" 35°49'33" 35°49'28" 36°01'18" 35°57'54" 34°41'11" 34°47'14" 34°30'41" 34°58'53" 34°44'17" 34°46'32" 34°41'44"

90°12'25" 90°08'09" 87°16'40" 85°37'03" 85°38'00"

Summit Summit Summit Summit Summit


Kangzhagri Koskulak Sirenshou “Military Peak” Qierlizuoke Feng Jiao Feng Satsum Kang Sirengou I Gouzha Kangri P5796 Toze Kangri SW Toze Kangri Toze Kangri Pyramid

28°51'02" 28°51'40" 28°58'01" 35°39'48" 34°24'45"

88°54'30" 89*19'12 88*07'29 87°55'18 87°36'24"


Dong Luokezong Shan

Many trekking peaks including Mindruk Sari, Druk Zhuk, Gyaphelri, Bumpari Kaluxung Kalurong 6,674 1,458 Jitanzhoma 6,028 Pulha Ri 6,424 1,198 Kukushili Songshiling 6,388 1,342 Purog Kangri 6,436 1,054

38°11'24" 37*45'55 37*25'29 37*23'12 37°23'18"


6,323 7,028 6,214 6,207 6,802 6,370 5,951 6,535 6,262 5,796 6,366 6,369 6,029


Akato or Yusupu Aleke Tagh




6,080 5,551 5,866 5,952 6,167


Aleke** “Qimantag III” Fujian Feng "Ayalik East" Ayalik**


Ak Tag**



Peaks in bold letters are to my best knowledge first ascents **So called Ultras, peaks with a prominence higher than 1,500 meters Altitudes given are measured by GPS from the summit, or from the official peaklists (Jurgalski, de Ferranti & Maizlish works) Prominence stats are also from the above mentioned lists Coordinates are a mix of GPS, official from lists and some are from Google Earth (these should be correct within a few meters)



Summit view looking east from Ak Tag

Pulha Ri

Typical campsite and Nadine in Tula Valley

Summit view from Jiao Feng

Summit ridge and huge cornice on Kaluxung

Kaluxung 9


Burog Co (lake) and the Zangser Kangri Massif seen from high on Purog Kangri

Ak Tag and a bright blue lake

First sight of Kukushili after 35 days in the wilderness

Crossing a muddy river close to Gomo Co

Typical campsite and Lars in the Ayalik Range

Janne in the middle of nowhere on the Chang Tang after a night of snow




Future Alpine Paradise, Sichuan 2012 Alluring Rock Peaks “Gangga Massif” Unclimbed Sacred & Forbidden Mountains “Kawarori”

Political situation in Tibet is uncertain and sensitive. Since no foreigners are allowed to enter remote areas of my field, eastern Tibet, in 2012, instead I organized an elderly survey team from the Hengduan Mountains Club (Tom Nakamura, Tsuyoshi Nagai, Tadao Shintani) to visit West Sichuan Highlands and Yunnan from late September to late October. The main objective was to photograph, map out and identify peaks of the Gangga massif and leastknown Kawarori. The Gangga massif is just south of Ganzi town and the Yalong Jiang, a northernmost extention of the Shaluli Shan range. Kawarori is a sacred mountain of the Gongkara Shan range which is located east of the Gangga massif and Yalong Jiang, northwest of the Daxue Shan range in the West Sichuan Highlands. The Yalong Jiang is one of the large tributary of the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). Reconnaissance of the Gangga massif was made only one time in 2005 by a Japanese party from the Nagano Prefecture. They were unable to bring back useful and informative record. The Alps of Tibet, mountains in eastern Tibet, is the final frontier in the greater ranges of the world. About 260 peaks over 6,000 meters high remain untrodden in Nyainqentanglha East, Kangri Garpo and Gorge Country. On the contrary, unclimbed mountains exceeding 6,000 meters are only more or less 10 summits in the West Sichuan Highlands, a region of Tibetan inhabitants too.

Gangga I Group: Central Peak 5,670 m (left), North Peak 5,650 m (right) seen from Ganzi 11


Nevertheless, if you look into and focus on peaks lower than 6,000 meters, you will come across many fascinating and challenging peaks that attract and enchant climbers seeking for unfrequented targets. Climbers have been rushing to rock peaks in the Qonglai Mountains of now popular Siguniang and currently several climbers have started an attempt on alluring rock peaks in the Genyen massif north of the Litang Plateau. However the Gangga massif and Gongkala Shan are still behind climbers attention. The Gangga massif is not a large mountains group and heights is 5,300 – 5,600 meters, but provides fantastic rock peaks. Kawaroni are holy mountains guarded by Tibetan monks and villagers. Our team arrived at Chengdu on the 26th September. Sichuan Earth Expedition Inc. arranged for our trip as usually and Zhang Jiyue joined the team. We left Chengdu for the mountains on the 28th September. We followed a newly-built highway Chengu-Xichang making a detour of Erlanshan Tunnel passage. Acceleration of highways construction in West China is amazing. We left the highway at Ximien and drove northward along Dadu River, and then crossed a pass Xuemenkan 3,948 m down to Kangding new town. The pass divides Minya Konka massif to southwest and Lamoshe massif to northeast.



I must mention two unusual factors of our survey trip. One is an extraordinarily bad weather in late September to mid October and the other is a political situation. During our travel in two weeks, only one and a half days were considerably fine weather (but not perfect blue sky) though I could take advantages of a narrow chance to photograph the mountains necessary for peaks identification. We stayed at Ganzi town only three nights during the good weather. On the 30th September we ascended to a pass Lazika 4,000 meters of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway for taking a panorama view of the Gangga and Kawarori. From this pass Erich Teichman viewed Kawarori in 1918. On the 1st October we enter a valley just south of Ganzi town and ascended to a high pass Zhuodana 4,820 meters leading to Baiyu County for reconnaissance of the central part of the massif. Remaining one week were spent for visiting interesting places including a village with famous stone towers in Danba County and Mt. Siguniang. It was a keen interest in going to the largest monastery and school with 20,000 monks and students in Seda, but I regret that there was no time.

Panorama picture of the central part of the Gangga Massif east face, Shaluli Shan

Eastern Rim of Gangga Massif: 5,690 m (left) and 5,241 m (center, Russian map 5,641 m). The top of 5,567 m is sern in between tow peaks. East face, Photo by Takashi Shiro 13


The other problem was a restriction imposed on foreigners due to political uncertainty in the region. The areas of Ganzi and adjacent counties were closed to foreigners in principles since spring of 2012 when Tibetan monks fire suicide happened. As after the spring, fire suicide took place intermittently, the authorities became nervous about foreign visitors. Under such circumstances we could manage to travel through the officially restricted areas with no difficulty and without any problem thanking to Jiyue᾽s careful attention. We met only a couple of westerners and no Japanese throughout the trip. We returned to Chengdu on the 10th October and flew to Kunming on the 11th for traveling south Yunnan and north Laos to retrace footsteps of the 19th century French Mekong River expedition. This is another story. Mountains of Kawarori were first reported by an early British consular officer and explorer, Eric Teichman who traveled through the highlands in 1918. [Passing Joro, the trail tops a rise and emerges on to rolling grass-lands now patched with snow. Here we saw many gazelle. A long pull up hill with occasional short descent brought us to the top of the She Chu – Yalung Divide, only about 13,000 feet high. As one tops the last rise, the great range beyond the Yalung bursts into view, a glittering mass of ice, snow and rock, culminating in the snowclad mass of Kawalori (“ peak of everlasting snow” ), a sacred mountain of Nyarong, and one of the highest peaks in Eastern Tibet. This great range is here pieced by the Yalung, and glimpses of it are occasionally caught from the She Chu valley below Driwo.]



(Travels of a Conslar Officer in Eastern Tibet Erich Teichman, Cambridge 1922) Teichmanួs observation is accurate. Kawarori of the Gongkara Shan range is located 30 km southeast of Garzi. Two principal peaks Kawarori-I 5,992 m and Kawarani-II 5,928 m remain unclimbed. Local Tibetan pronounce it Kawaruori but in this article Kawarori applies. Reconnaissance was first conducted by a Japanese party, Yamanashi Mountaineering Federation in autumn of 1999 and then a British party first attempted on climbing in autumn of 2005. They set up the second camp at 4,800 m. However hostile monks of a lamasery forcibly opposed the British to continue climbing for religious reason because of Holy Mountains. They could not help to abandon the attempt. Another British party came to Kawarori in 2007 but a climbing permit could not be obtained. The Tohoku University Alpine Club planned to climb Kawarori in summer of 2011 in a hope that a climbing permit would be issued. After getting an official permit of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association, they left Japan on 24th July. To their great upset, however, their plan was turned down by a senior official, Deputy Director of Sports Administrative Department, Garze Tibetans Autonomous Region at Kangding. He excused that Kawarori was holy mountains to local Tibetans and would oppose anyone to climb the mountains. Supposedly there might have been the other reason of recent sensitive and uncertain situation as monks fire suicides, though the official was silent. In fact the public security bureau (PSB) was cautious and nervous about foreigners to contact local villagers in Khamba territory. 15


Gangga I Group: (from left) Main 5,688 m, Central ,5670 m, North 5,650 m east face A flock of flying hawks are seen.

Gangga: (from left) 5,429 m, 5,400 m, 5,286 m northeast face 16


Gangga 5,429 m (left) 5,286 m (right) east face

Gangga Pk 5,318 m west of Gangga I NE face

Gangga 5,241 m east face

Gangga II 5,582 m east facce

Gangga Peak 5,241 m north face

Gangga (left) 5,567 m (right) 5,690 m W face



Kawarori I 5,992 m (left), Kawarori II 5,928 m (center), Pk 5,568 m (right)

Kawarori I 5,992 m north face (Takao Ohe)

Chunglu village stone towers in Danba (1) 18

Kawarori II 5,928 m north face

Chungle village stone tower in Danba (2)



DAV Expedition October 2012 to Sichuan

―First Ascent of Pk 5,910m in Minya Konka (Gongga Shan) Massif― (Maps and Panorama Pictures are supplemented by Tom Nakamura) Nobody is packing Risotto or any other rice dish. It᾽s probably because we have been acclimatising in a valley in China for two days and have eaten rice almost twice a day. We are packing our rucksacks for our summit attempt of an unclimbed peak in the Gonga Shan Massive in Sichuan. We have been planning this expedition, which marks the end of our time in the cadre of the German Alpine Club, for half a year, and now we have deposited our climbing gear at 5,000 m and have been acclimatising well for the past two weeks. Finally we are on our way! However, our high altitude food for the next few nights will certainly not be rice but dehydrated pasta. It is the beginning of October and autumn is slowly moving in, the needles of the larches further down the valley have already turned yellow and temperatures have dropped below zero; but the conditions on the mountain are good. There has been little snowfall over the past few days and we can see that the face further up is covered in ice. The weather forecast, which we receive from Innsbruck, also does not predict any precipitation for the next few days, just a bit of wind. From our base camp at 4,000 m we climb up a long valley via moraines and big boulders until we get to the beginning of the glacier at 5,000 m, where we have set up our Advanced Base Camp. We stay another night here observing the face and looking for an objectively safe line for our ascent. Our group consist of our expedition doctor, Uli Steiner, David Göttler, our coach Mirko und me. Dario, Felix and Reini are attempting a ridge on another mountain. After a calm night the wind picks up again in the morning when we ascend over a heavily crevassed glacier to a Col at 5,500 m. This marks the start of the West Face, which we are attempting. While we are digging up a platform for our tents just below the overhanging wall, the wind is reaching such a force that it is almost impossible to see without our skiing goggles. We pitch our tents using Abalakovs and pitons to protect them from being blown away. After we have melted two litres of water and have eaten a bag of high altitude food, we are trying to sleep to be ready to start at the crack of dawn the next morning. We are still worried about the weather and are hoping that the wind will abate. At four o clock in the morning our tents finally stop flapping and we are slowly beginning to melt snow. Just after dawn I climb up the first pitch, which did not look very inviting from down below but is actually good to climb in the compressed snow. After we have crossed a flat area we reach a snow and ice gully, which we climb up for about 300 metres until we get to a pretty broken area that we have to traverse over to the right. Now the terrain is getting steeper and we follow the icy line, which we had identified from lower down, reaching up to about 50 metres below the summit. The ice is getting thinner and placing ice screws is getting increasingly difficult. At the belay points we use pitons, which we leave there for our abseil later on. Clouds are slowly starting to move in from the West and the wind is picking up again. 19


About 100 metres below the summit my ice tool breaks after I have found firm ice underneath the thin sheet of ice and fortunately I can place an ice screw there. David is leading the next pitch in worsening weather. The last pitch is a demanding rock climb, which we have to manage before we reach the 40 cm – wide summit (5,950 m) at 1pm on October 17 hoisting Tibetan prayer flags. After having taken our summit photos we immediately start to abseil as the weather is further deteriorating and we know from our ascent that it is almost impossible to place ice screws through the thin sheets of ice. We are only able to place two ice screws over a length of 500 m; at the belay points we use pitons and thin cord, which we wrap around icy boulders. We are abseiling in heavy snowfall and strong winds for about five hours before we reach our camp at 5,500 m, where we spend the night. The next morning everything is covered in a white blanket and the sun is beautifully shining on the snow-covered peaks. Once more, we have to concentrate as the crevasses are now covered in snow and difficult to identify. We make our way down the glacier in a zigzag until we reach ABC, where Dario, Felix and Reini are welcoming us. From there we continue down to base camp and are actually looking forward to our fix of rice dishes from our cook Fang. Itinerary (2012) 30.09.2012 – 1 Flight München – Amsterdam – Chengdu 01.10.2012 – 2 Arrival Chengdu 02.10.2012 – 3 Bus drive from Chengdu over Kangding to Laoyulin 03.10.2012 – 4 Walk to Basecamp, 4,000 m, ca 5h 04-06.10.2012 – 5 – 7 BC Rest / Acclimatisation 07.10.2012 – 8 BC – ABC, 4600m – BC 08.10.2012 – 9 BC – Depot in front of glacier – BC 09.10.2012 –10 BC – ABC I, 4,600 m 10.10.2012 – 11 ABC – ABC II, 5,050 m – ABC, Check out and transport of equipment 11.10.2012 – 12 ABC – ABC II – BC, Transport of Equipment 12-13.10.2012 13 – 14 BC Rest / Acclimatisation 14.10.2012 – 15 BC – ABC II, 4h Felix cause of sickness in BC 15.10.2012 – 16 Team I Reini / DarioCheck out Slab to Eastridge, ABC II Team II Uli, David, Mirko, Max ABC II to Lager 1, 5450m 16.10.2012 – 17 Team I Reini/Dario/Felix Eastridge ca 1/2 the way, Cause of Felix` sickness back to ABCII Team II First ascent over new route Nubiline on Melycr Shan 5,910 m back to camp 1 17.10.2012 – 18 in BC 18-19.10.2012 – 19 – 20 BC Rest / Acclimatisation 20.10.2012 – 21 BC Rest / Acclimatisation Uli, David, Felix Team III Dario, Reini, Mirko BC – ABC II 21.10.2012 – 22 BC Rest / Acclimatisation Uli, David, Felix Team III day 1 Eastridge 200Hm below summit 22.10.2012 – 23 BC Rest / Acclimatisation Uli, David, Felix Team III Tag 2 Estridge to summit Stiffler᾽s Mum back to ABC II 23.10.2012 – 24 Uli, David, Felix BC – ABC II Team III ABC II – BC 24.10.2012 – 25 Team III Ruhetag BC Try Iceline by Felix and David, Cause of Felix sickness back to BC 25.10.2012 – 26 BC Restday/ Acclimatisation 20


26.10.2012 – 27 BC Uli, Felix Team BC – ABC III 27.10.2012 – 28 Felix, Uli, BC – Depot – BC Trasport of equipement back to BC rest of team: Frist ascent Iceline You happy – we happy”WI5, 6 SL, meets in the midle the line of Nubiline , here descent cause of storm 28.10.2012 – 29 Team back to BC 29.10.2012 – 30 Uli, Felix Trekking day 1 arround Minya Konga Massiv rest of Team packing in BC 30.10.2012 – 31 Uli, Felix Trekking day 2 arround Minya Konga Massiv rest of Team packing in BC 31.10.2012 – 32 Uli, Felix nach Kangding rest of Team BC – Kangding 01.11.2012 – 33 Kangding – Chengdu by Bus 02.11.2012 – 34 Chegndu, Aircargo 03.11.2012 – 35 Flight back home Chegndu – Amsterdam – München

German DAV October 2012 Minya Konka Massif Pk 5,910 m climbing route




Panorama East Face Minya Konka (Gongga Shan) Photo: Tomas Obtulovic

Panorama Northwest Face Minya Konka (Gongga Shan) Photo: Wuri Wusa






Approach to Pk 5910m from BC

East Ridge climbing (2)

East Ridge climbing (1)

East Ridge climbing (3)

Expedition members 25



The Ascent First Ascent of Lopchin Feng 6,805m First of Kameilong 5,873 m –(KG-2) Genyen Massif Autumn 2009 Shaluli Expedition Kangri GarpoHighlands East Mountains, Tibet Shantointhe West Sichuan

In the fall of 2012 a Taiwanese/American expedition spent a month in the remote Shaluli Shan Range of Western Sichuan, China and came away with the first ascent of Kemailong (5,870 m), a striking granite tower. On October 1, 2012, Szu-ting Yi and Dave Anderson climbed the 3,500 ft south ridge to the summit of Kemailong and rappelled the east face returning to their high camp in an 18-hour push. This was American Dave Anderson third expedition to the region in the last six years. In October 2006, he and Canadian Sarah Heuniken summited Sachun (5,716 m) a Patagonia-like spire and while American teammates Molly and Andy Tyson climbed Purba (5,685 m). Later that fall, Charlie Fowler and Christine Boscoff went missing in the same region. After an intense search, their bodies were discovered in avalanche debris near the base of the area᾽s highest peak Mount Genyen 20,354ft. In August of 2011, Anderson returned with Szu-ting Yi and Eric Salazar to attempt an unnamed 5,700 m pyramid shaped mountain whose base was covered with tens of thousands of hand placed rock cairns. The significance of the peak and the rock cairns had been lost over time and was not even known by the monks at the nearby 600 year old Lengu Monastery. During their attempt on the northeast ridge of the peak 5,700 m on August 27th, Szu-ting Yi, suffered breathing problems due to a respiratory infection, contracted earlier in the trip. The trio retreated back to base camp and were met by several stern looking monks of the Lengu Monastery. The reason for the monks displeasure was not that the peak the climbers were attempting was considered scared. The reason was much more practical. After Fowler and Boscoff disappeared in 2006 the local Chinese authorities were suspicious of the Tibetan monks in general and used the tragedy of the missing climbers to inspect the monastery and search through the monks personal belongings. Map-1 Climbing route to Lopchin Feng

The monks just did not want anything bad to happen to us while we were visiting the Genyen region that would cause the Chinese authorities to come in and bother them, Anderson summarized. The monks were happy to have foreigners visit the monastery, take pictures and trek in the valley, but climbing was out. Initially, Anderson and his team told the monks they were just trekking, but the monks saw the ice axes and other climbing gear and questioned the climbers further. Being vague about our plans in the Genyen region was one thing, but outright lying to the monks was something that none of us wanted to partake in , Salazar commented. In addition, the monks voiced their displeasure with fixed protected and ropes left on Sachun during a 2006 Austrian Expedition. Anderson, Yi and Salazar opted to leave the valley and head to northeast region of the Shaluli Shan Range to attempt another peak called Crown Mountain (5,600 m). After a rugged 4 wheel drive they established a base camp among the nomadic yak herders living below the peak. Crown Mountain which is 6 miles south east of Xiashe Peak (first climbed in 2005, by New Zealanders Pat Deavoll and Karen McNeill). They spent the next day establishing a high camp on the north side of Crown Mountain. Unlike the solid granite Genyen Massif the rock in this area of the Shulai Shan is composed of extremely loose decomposing rock. Anderson, Yi and Salazar chose to ascend the west ridge and reached the summit on Sept 3, 2012 after 7 hours from their high camp (IV, 5.6, 50 degrees). 26


In 2012 Yi and Anderson returned with the intension of climbing Kemailong 5,870 m located several valleys to the north-east of Mt Genyen. The expedition almost ground to halt in the town of Lamaya when the horse packers discovered Anderson᾽s and Yi᾽s climbing equipment. After a flurry of intense conversations Yi translated, Before the bodies of Fowler and Boscoff were discovered on the slopes of Genyen, the Chinese authorities had imprisoned several of the horse packers merely on the suspicion that they had something to with the Americans disappearance. As a result the horse packers were still fearful of helping climbers. To resolve the issue, Yi and Anderson wrote, signed and finger printed a waiver releasing the horse packers from any responsibility if they failed to return from Kemailong. Charlie Fowler traveled lightly during his many trips to the Tibetan regions of China, learned to speak Tibetan, respected the different cultures, always hired local people and the last thing he would have wanted would be for these same people to be hassled by the authorities, but unfortunately that is exactly what did happen. I believe, as climbers, we have to be aware of how the consequences of our actions can negatively affect the native people, because after all we are just visitors. Anderson concluded. During the approach into the mountains Anderson was amazed at the changes that had taken place to the region in the last six years. New roads and electrical lines now crisscrossed the remote region which had previously been the domain of only nomads and their yaks. At their base camp below Kemailong, Yi and and Anderson were challenged by poor weather to even see a way up the lower section of the peak. Eventually they began shuttling loads up a grueling 1,000 m long boulder field on south side of Kemailong and established a high camp at 5,000 m. On October 1, a midnight weather check revealed stars instead of the usual fog and hail. At 7:00 am Anderson and Yi climbed three mixed pitches to gain the saddle on the south ridge of Kemailong. After three moderate fifth class pitches the terrain became less steep and Anderson and Yi unroped for 300 meters of easy fifth class climbing. As the ridge narrowed the climbing became more challenging, but the featured rock kept difficulty under 5.10 for the next three pitches. The rock continued to improve and the team was able to simul-climb 400 m of perfect rock. More mixed pitches led to a false summit with the true summit being several rope lengths away past a series of rock gendarmes plastered with snow. The final pitch started with a stout overhanging hand crack (5.10) before easing to unprotected face climbing and the summit. By the time Anderson and Yi summited at 5:00pm, the weather had deteriorated. Gusty winds, hail and electrical discharges zapped the climbers as they scrambled to get off the summit. Their original plan was to descend the south ridge, but with all their metal equipment still humming from the electrical storm, Yi and Anderson decided to bail off the unknown steep 800m east face. The weather continued to deteriorate with heavy snow compounding the difficulty of finding crack systems to set up rappel anchors. Finally after leaving most of their rack during 13 rappels Anderson and Yi stumbled back to their high camp at 1:00am. The next morning, with the weather worsening, they headed down to their base camp, packed up, and hiked out of the Shaluli Shan Range as the winter season moved in. The American / Taiwanese team named their route Joining Hands (V, 5.10, M5) for the logistical and climbing skills Anderson and Yi brought with them to the mountains that when combined allowed them to succeed in the Shaluli Shan. It is an interesting time to be exploring China᾽s Western mountains, Anderson commented. Presently, the Chinese government is pouring money into Western Sichuan᾽s infrastructure. Improved roads and new airports have dramatically shortened the approach time. While physical logistics of accessing these areas have gotten easier, weaving through the bureaucracy, nationalism, 27


social and cultural diversity of China remains challenging. The climbers would like to thank Planet Granite, the AAC Lyman Spitzer Alpine Grant, Patagonia, Evolve and NOLS for making the expedition possible.



Kameilong climbing route

Kameilong 5873m East Face, Photo: Tomas Obtulovic 29



The First Ascentofof Lopchin Feng (KG-2) 6,805m Rock Temples Tibetan Buddhists Homelands Autumn 2009 Expedition to the Kangri Garpo East Mountains, Daogou–Chibu Group of Mt. Siguniang Massif, Qonglai Mountains,Tibet Sichuan First of all, I express my sincere thanks to Kenzo Okawa, Dylan Johnson, Yao Liu, Naoki Ohuchi, Hiroo Yonezawa and Shihoko Nomura for their kindnesses and generosities to have furnished me with their records, knowledges and invaluable pictures. It was in summer of 1998 that I was overwhelmingly touched by the grandeur of rock peaks on the watershed sharing the Changping Valley and Shuangqiao Valley of the Mt. Siguniang National Reserve, Qonglai Mountains. The first glimpse of a panorama of towering rocky peaks seen to the west from a high pass 4,644 m dividing the Changping Valley and Bipeng Valley deeply touched and impressed me. These peaks are of Daogou–Chubu group. In recent years many climbers have been rushing to the mountain area for attempting challenging rock peaks. To my best knowledge a climbing chronicle has been followed and renewed by the American Alpine Journal. This article does not deal with the climbing chronicle. Part I: Peaks identification of the core part on the watershed sharing Changping Gou and Shangqiang Gou is shown on panorama pictures. Parr II: Notable first ascents of the Daogou-Chibu group are introduced using route line pictures. Records 2010 and 2012 of a Japanese party of Y. Yonezawa are included. Part III: A record 2012 of a distinguished Chinese climber, Yao Liu Sichuan University.

Map-1 Climbing route to Lopchin Feng






Part I (1)





Part I (2)

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