China, Sichuan, Daxue Shan
About 25 kilometers northeast of Gongga Shan is a group of peaks called the Lamo-she peaks by Imhof in his 1930 survey. Lamo-she (“Goddess Peak”) is the highest in the area at 6070 meters (19,915 feet). In September and October, Eloise Thompson, Chris Seashore, Andy Zimet, Fred Beckey, Lyle Schultze and we two visited the Daxue Shan intending to climb Lamo-she.
We arrived at Base Camp at 3800 meters in mid September and spent a week ferrying food and gear to three higher camps as we acclimatized. The highest camp-cache was within a kilometer of the toe of the glacier below the northwest face at the beginning of the actual climbing. The next two weeks saw monsoon-like weather, with much rain and several snowfalls of six inches at Base Camp and more on the peak. Avalanche danger increased continually. After three weeks of worsening weather, our scheduled departure date was drawing near. We withdrew all food and gear from the upper camps and evacuated Base Camp. As we arrived in Kangding, the nearest town, the sky cleared. The next day was the same. We asked our interpreters to arrange a week-long extension of our permit and to change our airline reservations. Unfortunately Lyle Schultze had to return home. Beckey had split off from the group a few days earlier to hike and explore lower peaks to the west and north and was incommunicado. Eloise Thompson decided to wait for us in Chengdu. We were down to four climbers: Seashore, Zimet and us two. Acclimatized from three weeks between 3800 and 4800 meters, we returned from Kangding to our first camp above Base Camp in a single day and to the beginning of the ice the following day. For the next three days we climbed steadily, starting early to take advantage of the frozen snow from the cold nights. The first day’s climbing was mostly up a moderate ice-and-snow couloir to just below a col at 5000 meters. The second day began with a traverse up a steep snow bowl to a rocky shoulder overlooking the southwest face. From the shoulder, we moved back left and climbed steeper ice up a tongue separating a vertical ice cliff on our right from the steep, chaotic icefall of the north face on our left. We bivouacked on a slope above the ice tongue at 5500 meters. On the third day, the weather worsened steadily. Deep snow, followed by an ice pitch led us to a second shoulder where the angle diminished noticeably. Conditions were so poor and visibility so low that, when we reached the corniced point from which the mountain fell away steeply in all directions, we had to stand and peer for half an hour before a brief clearing showed us that we were on the summit. From the summit, we descended to the first night’s camp below the col. The following morning, we returned to the high meadow. That night eight inches of snow fell and the storm continued as we returned to Kangding. Apparently winter had begun.
Jonathan Turk and Gray Thompson, USA