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Asia, Western China, Xuelian Feng, Tien Shan

Xuelian Feng, Tien Shan. The Tokai Section of the Japanese Alpine Club sent its fourth expedition to attempt Xuelian Feng with me as leader. Expeditions in 1986, 1988 and 1989 had managed to find the route to the south side of the mountain and had in 1989 reached the 6450-meter Junction Peak, south of the main summit, but could not get to the highest point. In 1990, our party of 12 left Akusu on July 22 and made its way along the Muzaruto River and up the Akuchi Gorge. On July 25, we placed Base Camp at 3100 meters on the south side of the Karakume Glacier. It was 20 kilometers up the moraine of the glacier to Advance Base, established on July 29 at 4100 meters at the foot of the southeast ridge of Junction Peak. We made a relay camp at 4800 meters in the icefall on August 1. We fixed 500 meters of rope in a 60° ice-and-rock gully and placed Camp I at the top of the gully at 5250 meters on August 3. There was a snowfield, a 400-meter-high ice face and a 1½-kilometer-long snow-and-rock ridge to Camp II, which we pitched on August 7 at 5950 meters. We continued up the southeast ridge of Junction Peak, climbed a 70° gully and traversed the snow face to reach the main ridge between Junction Peak and the main summit, where we established Camp III at 6400 meters on August 11. There were great cornices on the north side of the ridge. Between that camp and the summit, there were about two kilometers of ridge with two rock peaks on it. On August 12, climbers from Camps II and III traversed on the south side below the cornices and reached the col. On the 13th, climbers from Camp III bypassed below the first rock peak. All descended to Advance Base. On August 18, Motochiro Fujita, Hideki Sakai, Mikio Suzuki, Etuo Nishikawa, Hiroshi Kojiri, Takuo Kato, Reiji Takahashi and I left Camps II and III and got to the high point. We fixed three ropes in a steep gully to reach the top of the second rock peak. After climbing frozen rock walls and an overhanging ice wall, we found ourselves on a large snow slope leading to the top. The snow was waist-deep and at ten P.M. we had to bivouac at 6500 meters in a snow cave. We reached the summit (6627 meters, 21,742 feet) the next day at 12:30 P.M.

Kazuo Tukushima, Japanese Alpine Club