Asia, Southeast China, Yulong Shan

Publication Year: 1988.

Yulong Shan. Phil Peralta-Ramos, John Warfield, Marty Gollery and I as leader and five trekkers headed for China’s Yunnan province in April. We threaded through pony carts, rotor-tiller machines, bicycles and honey wagons for two days from Kunming to Lijiang. A two-hour truck ride from Lijiang brought us to the Base Camp used by unsuccessful Japanese in 1984 and Americans in 1985 and 1986. Racing a tight schedule, we set up Base Camp, loaded packs and headed up a forested cow trail for snowline, trying to establish Advance Base all on the first day. Unfortunately the Naxi porters got drunk on rice wine, lost the trail and mired the team in a dense bamboo jungle. We established Advance Base the next day. Good weather allowed rapid progress and the swift establishment of Glacier Camp at 16,000 feet. Then altitude problems struck. Gollery descended to Base Camp and Peralta-Ramos holed up at Advance Base. A two-day storm dropped 18 inches of snow and gave us a chance to rest. Previous attempts had tried a rock gully and a long, twisting ridge. This time we took a more direct line that could be completed in one long day. Warfield, a freshly-recovered Peralta-Ramos and I left Glacier Camp at first light on May 8. We threaded up snow gullies and scrambled up snow-splattered limestone headwalls. Avalanche danger was high and protection sparse. The ice was too rotten to hold a screw. Ice axes crashed through and hooked on limestone edges. Technical difficulty reached 5.7, not easy in plastic boots and crampons. The “Jade Dragon’s” usual horrific weather held steady. We pulled onto the ridge at 18,000 feet at two P.M. Warfield was exhausted and chose to sit tight. Peralta-Ramos and I pushed up the three-foot-wide ridge, groveling through steep, loose snow. The weather stayed clear for another ten minutes and then the clouds closed in and never lifted. We reached the summit (5596 meters, 18,360 feet) at 3:45 P.M.

Eric S. Perlman