American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, China, E-Gongga Attempt, 1982

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

E-Gongga Attempt, 1982. Our team comprised Ivan Day, Roy May, Peter Thompson, Dr. Duncan Gray, Stephen Martin and me as leader. We arrived at our roadhead village, Xin Xin, on July 23, 1982. E-Gongga, our main objective after we discovered that Swiss had illegally climbed Zhong Shan, was a very complex mountain to which there was no obvious access on the south. During the approach, we had dismissed attempting it from the southeast because of prolonged technical difficulties on such a huge face and difficulty of access. We would have to machete our way through five or six kilometres of dense forest and pick our way across three kilometres of glacier just to reach the base of a 3500-metre-high cliff. A route from the north was denied us by flooding in the approach valley, Nan Men Guan Gou, just prior to our arrival. Our first attempt by the south face used as an approach the valley immediately north of Base Camp. The second, from Advance Base two days’ march around the base of the mountain, was via a subsidiary peak west of E-Gongga. These routes might have gained access to an intervening southwest ridge to the summit. On the first attempt, from July 28 to August 2, Gray and Martin reached a high point of 5200 metres. The route abutted a 600-metre vertical rock tower of questionable stability which had to be scaled to reach the steep snow slope leading to the summit. Our attention now turned to the side Day and I had been looking at. Racing against time, we took two days to set up Advance Base. By August 5 we had crossed the heavily crevassed Yantsoko Glacier to gain access to E-Gongga’s defining valley to the west and to Camp I. A frigid river crossing above Camp I established us on the route, which would have involved the ascent of P 6130 simply to gain access to our peak. Two bivouacs, the first alarmingly exposed to rockfall, found Gray and me at 4900 metres on the west slope of P 6130. On August 8 we reached a high point of 5350 metres by climbing a complex icefall to a sérac ridge which in turn crested on the west ridge of P 6130. The weather took a dramatic turn for the worse. We called off our attempt on August 11.

Stuart Hepburn, Carlisle Mountaineering Club, England

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.