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Asia, China, Sichuan, Jiazi Attempt

Jiazi Attempt, Sichuan. Applications to attempt Namcha Barwa and Minya Konka (Gongga Shan) having been declined by the Chinese Mountaineering Association, Jiazi in the Daxue Shan was accepted as an alternative. Jiazi is the same as Djaze and as Rudshe Konka reported by A. Heim and E. Imhof from their visit to the Daxue Shan in 1930-1 and calculated by them to be 7100 meters. We were Major P. Neame, Captains M.R. Campbell, V.H. Needham and A.E. Whitley, Lieutenant F.M. Philip, Corporals J. Arthy and A.D.R. Baxter, Lance Corporal A.H. Leggat and I as leader. Our British Army China Expedition was mounted through Hong Kong with freight entering China and advancing by rail to Chengdu. On April 4 the team, with CMA Liaison Officer Song Hai Tao, Interpreter Liu Zi Kang, Manager Chen Ming Ming and Cook Chi Yu Shan, left Chengdu in a minibus with the freight accompanying us by truck. From Yaan we were diverted to Han-Yuan on the Tatu River, which was then followed to Luding. The direct route to Luding was denied although 200 kms shorter. The roadhead was at Lao Yulin, 11 kms south of Kangding. Ponies were used to set up a reconnaissance base 18 kms up the Jiazi Longba on April 6. From there we explored the western approaches to Jiazi. We traversed the entire length of the Riuchi and Tshiburongri Glaciers and the 5400- meter (17,717-foot) pass linking them. We also reached the head of the Tshiburongri Glacier (also 5400 meters) from the west. A long trip was mounted to explore the eastern approach to Jiazi, by crossing the Yachiagan Pass from Lao Yulin to the South Gate of Heaven (Nan Men Guan Gou). The east side was hot, humid and heavily forested in steep-sided river gorges in contrast to the glaciated high grazing valleys on the west. Also during this phase Arthy and Baxter on April 16 made the first ascent of Tshiburongri, which our liaison officer preferred to call “Riuchi Gongga.” The altitude on the Chinese survey map was 5938 meters (19,450 feet). The ascent was up a long snow gully, the right hand of the twin gullies on the southeast face. As a result of the reconnaissance, it was decided to attempt the northeast ridge of Jiazi. Two routes were tried but both were foiled at about 6000 to 6200 meters (about 20,000 feet) where a steep rock band girdles the mountain. We switched to the northwest ridge in mid May in worsening weather, the forerunner of the monsoon. On May 10 Arthy and Baxter were stopped on the ridge at about 6100 meters, Baxter taking a fall while trying to force the rock band on the north face. On May 18 they were joined by Neame and having fixed 200 meters of rope over steep mixed ground to gain an ice gully on the west face, they made a final summit bid. The gully had been swept by high winds to reveal steep, brittle ice. Baxter fell off nearly 20 meters and badly bruised his thigh. The attempt was terminated and the expedition abandoned. We withdrew in good order and after transport difficulties in Peking, we finally reached Hong Kong on May 31. The survey map held by the liaison officer was accurate in all respects that we could check. It showed Jiazi as having a height of 6540 meters (21,457 feet), which should, sadly, be preferred to Imhof's 7100 meters (23,294 feet).

M.W. Henry Day, Major, Royal Engineers and Alpine Club