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Asia, Western China, Syn Qing Feng Attempt

Syn Qing Feng Attempt. Karl Gerdes, Paul Tamm, Phil Peralta-Ramos, John Owen, Jim Bennett and I headed for China’s Qinghai Province in April. We rode trains for two days from Beijing to Xining, then trucks and jeeps for two days to Golmud, and jeeps for three days over the Kunlun Pass, off-road past the long mountains and great ice lakes of the Kunlun Range, finally arriving at the compact mountain cluster of Syn Qing Feng. The name is Buka Daban in Mongolian. This range had never seen a climbing team prior to this season. The Chinese Mountaineering Association of Qinghai was by far the least competent and most avaricious of the provincial Chinese mountaineering organizations. They shortchanged the expedition on food and continually changed the written protocol to enrich themselves. At their insistence, renegotiations occurred daily and consumed hours. We arrived at Base Camp to find a disgruntled Himalayan Association of Japan team, led by Hideyuki Uematsu, which had a permit for Syn Qing Feng I (6860 meters, 22,507 feet). They had given up many days short of their prime objective, but in three days did climb Syn Qing Feng XVIII (6237 meters, 20,463 feet), a walk-up near camp. Our liaison officer/cook, Mr. Li, climbed this solo on a windless morning to retrieve Japanese fixed rope for himself. Though the Japanese were eager to get home, the Chinese forced them to stay for several extra days, extracting from them exorbitant day-rates for trucks and food. In the next ten days, we established Camp II at 18,000 feet on the glacier and Camp III at 19,800 feet at the foot of the summit peak of Syn Qing Feng II, for which we had the permit. The Chinese made little effort to protect the camp from external thieves but grilled members every day to make sure we did not intend to climb Syn Qing Feng I without paying the proper fee. From Base Camp to the higher camps, the bitter cold and high winds were relentless. We made two attempts on the summit ridge, both repulsed by high winds; one at 20,200 and the other at 21,000 feet. Eventually we ran out of time and retreated.

Eric S. Perlman