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Asia, China, Gongka Mountains, Mt. Reddomain, First Ascent

Mt. Reddomain, First Ascent. Not a few virgin 6000-meter peaks still remain in Sichuan, China. One photograph, taken by a Japanese trekker in 1998, attracted our interest. Reddomain (6112m) rises fifteen kilometers north of Mt. Gongka Shan. The first introduction of Reddomain was in National Geographic Magazine in 1930. In the 70 years since, however, nobody had tried to climb this beautiful mountain. In May, we began to gather information on Reddomain and also commenced negotiating for climbing permission with the Chinese Mountaineering Association through Sichuan Adventure Travel. We got the permission in July and started preparing for our expedition.

We left for Chengdu on September 12. Our team was made up of 11 members, including eight undergraduate students of Gakushuin University: Yasushi Tanahashi, university leader; Masayuki Harada, subleader, Norisuke Ogawa, Yuji Tashiro, Maiko Uchino (f), Shotaro Yahagi, Yoshiaki Shimura, Hiroyuki Takahashi, Takuo Fukushima, Aya Yamane (f) and Ichiro Arakawa, adviser. Three of the 11 were mountaineering novices. On September 15, we travelled to Kangding, 400 kilometers west of Chengdu, by a chartered bus and to Raoyulin (3100m), the last village on our route, the following day. After two nights there, we departed into the Liuch Valley on September 18. For acclimation, we took four days to travel the distance of about 30 kilometers to Base Camp (4500m) in Mohsigoh Valley at the foot of Reddomain. In this way, we crossed the Liuch Pass (4910m) at the end of the west ridge of Reddomain.

We chose this west ridge as our route to the summit and started climbing on September 22. First we climbed up the scree-covered gully, where we were often frightened by rock fall, to get on the west ridge at 5150 meters, where we set up Camp I. We used fixed ropes all the way from CI to CII (5550m), including five pitches on a rock ridge and 16 pitches on snow, for the extra safety of the unskilled members. These ropes were carried down after the climb together with all other equipment.

Our first attempt was made by Harada and Tashiro on October 4. They approached the summit along the steep snow ridge. Just a few pitches from the summit, a cornice collapsed while Harada was belaying Tashiro. Unfortunately, Harada lost his rucksack and transceiver and they had to turn back halfway. The next day, Tanahashi, Ogawa and Tashiro attempted the summit again. After six hours of struggling on the snow ridge, they finally climbed up the steep snow wall and reached the top of Reddomain at noon of October 5.

Although not all the members were successful in reaching the summit, we really enjoyed our expedition and had unforgettable experiences during our trip in Sichuan. The Gongka range is a glorious place for climbing with many mountains to be explored.

Yasushi Tanahashi, Gakushuin Alpine Club