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Asia, China, Sichuan, Chola Shan, UIAA Internation Camp, Various Ascents

UIAA International Camp, Various Ascents. On September 7, all 23 members of the Third UIAA International Mountaineering Camp from ten different countries arrived in Chengdu in the province of Sichuan in China after a long journey via Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai or Bangkok. The staff, international as well, consisted of: UIAGM Mountain Guide Robbie Fenlon from Ireland, Co-leader and UIAGM Mountain Guide Jorg Wilz from Germany and Dutch Leader and UIAGM Mountain Guide Edward Bekker, who lives in Chamonix and is a member of the UIAA Expeditions Commission. Wilz and Bekker also guided and organized the highly succesful camp to Hushe Valley in Pakistan in 1993. The expedition doctor was Dr. Eckart von Delft from South Africa. After spending one day in Chengdu to buy food for base camp and general organizing, we left Chengdu and traveled for four days by bus to Maniganggo near the Tibetan border. Traveling with us were the Chinese officials from the Sichuan Mountaineering Association, which is affiliated with the Chinese Mountaineering Association. There were, amongst others, Mr. Jiang Yi, Executive General Secretary and Mr. Luo, our interpreter and Vice General Secretary. The liaison officer was Mr. Mong. Also travelling along were the cooks Mr. Dzu and Mr. Ten. The organization of hotels and food was immaculate. Also to be mentioned was our bus driver, who drove us safely over very rough roads.

On September 13 and 14, we established Base Camp in pouring rain at about 4000 meters on the southwest side of the holy Xinluhai (Lhamcoka) Lake in a lovely spot with small trees and a nearby river. The campsite was surrounded by many rocky peaks on one side and green hills on the other.

Camp I was established on the 15th at 4650 meters. From the 15th to the 27th, small teams were formed and, despite the generally bad weather, quite a few mountains were climbed, some by fine new alpine routes. The highest altitude reached was between 5800 and 5900 meters. It is a pity that Chola Shan, the highest summit of the area at 6168 meters, could not be climbed, solely because of too much avalanche risk. In 1988, Chola Shan was climbed for the first time by Chinese and Japanese, and two small Japanese groups climbed on Chola Shan in 1995 and 1996.

We found September to be a little too late in the season with a lot of new snow. July is reported to be rather wet. August could be the best time for climbing in this remote area.

The most important climbs (some of which are listed below in greater detail) were as follows. September 16 and other days: Slab climbing near camp. Amsterdam-Tel Aviv Diretissima (III-VI+, 200m), Jochai Lelior (Israel), Mark Heine and Leopold Roessingh (Netherlands). September 16-18: A large team set up Cl and CII and tried Chola Shan. They set off two big slab avalanches one to each side, and turned around at 5850 meters. The group included Christof Friemel, Lukas Knechtle (Switzerland), Robbie Fenlon (Ireland), Bram van de Kam, Miriam Knepper, Martijn Schell, Chris v.d. Berg (Netherlands), and Megan Beaumont (South Africa). All went down in bad weather on the 19th.

On September 17-19, Mark Heine, Leopold Roessingh, Edward Bekker, Jochai Lelior, Jorg Wilz, Eckart von Delft, Keun Lee Soo and Sang Jin Kim (South Korea) all went to CL Bekker, von Delft, Kim and Lee went to CII, but the weather was too bad for Chola Shan.

French Manu Pellissier and Fréderique Salle focused on the “Chinese Droites,” but were unable to try it because of weather and a stolen rope from the depot at 4600 meters!

British Liam Reinhardt and Belgian Mario Deroo teamed up for rock climbing and did two pitches on Son of a Yak (IV-V), finding bad rock but a nice bivy.

September 20 was nice weather that produced three new routes on “Hero Shan” (5700m) from CI. Lelior and Wilz climbed a 450-meter ice route, the Jo-Jo Couloir, from the ‘schrund up to 85°. Heine and Roessingh climbed Voie Kurai, a 450-meter mixed route (EDinf 90°), possibly the most difficult route of the Ccamp. Bekker and von Delft tried the possibly unclimbed Pyramid opposite Chola Shan, near Chola Shan II, but turned around at 5850 meters because of avalanche-prone slopes.

Another rocky ridge and peak called “Groenlo Shan” was climbed by Knepper, v.d. Kam and Beaumont on September 23. Pellissier, Salle and Fenlon sat out a few stormy days in French CII, but conditions were never right.

Beyond the climbing, a lot of exploring was done in other valleys. The area has a lot of scope for both rock and mixed, but one needs a lot of time and good nerves to wait for the right moment. Even though the weather was not very good, the expedition was a great success and all members enjoyed it a lot. The team spirit was really good, as was the cooperation with the Chinese. We did not see even one other tourist and the exploring of an unknown area was especially highly appreciated.

Edward Bekker