American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, China, Ascent of Bok'ra III and Attempt at Circuit of Siguniang

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

Ascent of Bok’ra III and Attempt at Circuit of Siguniang. On October 2, fifteen of us left Zelun in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of Sichuan Province and headed north into the beautiful Zhang Ping valley of the Siguniang Mountains. We were accompanied by two efficient and pleasant liaison officers, an interpreter and a cook of the Chinese Mountaineering Association. Under the auspices of the American Alpine Club, we were to climb and explore in this recently “opened” area of southwest China. After a few days of acclimatization and reconnaissance we occupied a camp at 15,000 feet from which we hoped to climb the three summits of Bok’ra, which lie north of Siguniang. Rick Reese makes the following report: “On October 7 David Wright, Fred Lang and I in 5½ hours climbed to the 17,600-foot (5364-meter) summit of Bok’ra III (the west peak) at the head of the Zhang Ping valley. The next day the route was repeated by Lorraine Bonney, Frank Castle, David Chick, Chadwick Creamer and Dana and Bill Isherwood. The route was mostly on snow with a section of fairly steep ice just below the summit. Climbing was straightforward and of moderate difficulty. From the summit we could see dozens of unclimbed granite peaks to the north, west and south which would rank with the finest rock climbs on earth.” Attempts on the two other summits failed because of health problems at high altitude. Another major interest was to attempt the first circuit of the Siguniang massif. A pass leading east just north of Siguniang was too difficult for our party. Another reconnaissance on October 11 revealed that another pass two miles farther north was not a possible access route to the east. A third pass another two miles or so farther north seemed to give access to a six-to-eight- mile-long east-west valley. Dense evergreen forests of pine and rhododendron presented formidable barriers to leaving the Zhang Ping valley floor. We were told that Tibetans climbed into this valley to dig for medicinal roots. David Wood and I found their trail on October 12. On the 14th we two with Fran Allen, Lorraine Bonney, Cleo Dymott and Jim Henriot found the pass at 16,050 feet and descended into the valley via a very steep scree slope. We decided to explore the valley. On the 15th it was a slow descent to 11,000 feet. The next morning we descended in cloud to the confluence of our valley with the northeast- southwest valley. With poor visibility, we could not determine whether there was a likely way out of that valley to the south or southeast. As we were running low on food, we had to give up the circuit and return.

Peter Wood

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