Asia, China, Kun Lun Shan, Qong Muztag, First Ascent

Publication Year: 2001.

Qong Muztag, First Ascent. The Waseda University Alpine Club of Tokyo sent an expedition to the Kun Lun Range of Sinkiang, China, in the summer of 2000. They made the first ascent of Qong Muztag (6962m) on August 15. The 12-member expedition, which included five students, was led by Shin Yamada.

The upper Keriya river basin where Qong Muztag is located was explored for the first time in 1898 by Captain H.H.P. Deasy with the Survey of India. We sent a reconnaissance party to explore the approach route to Qong Muztag in May, 1999. Hiroaki Kino and Hideki Inaba started their caravan from the village of Pulu. Pulu is located 75 kilometers south of the town of Keriya (Yutian in Chinese).

The party were the first foreigners to have gone into the upper basin of Keriya River since 1898. But they could not reach the intended Base Camp due to lack of grass for donkeys and cold weather. In September, 1999, the geographer Shigeru Kodama explored the Karasai route. He followed the caravan route that Deasy traced in 1898. Kodama reached the northern foot of Qong Muztag after ten days of donkey caravan from Karasai, the upper village of Kyantokai.

We started the approach march from Kyantokai, a small village at the foot of the Kun Lun, on July 23. Kyantokai was reached from the town of Minfeng, some 300 kilometers east of Hotan, in a one-day drive. The caravan consisted of 91 donkeys (59 for baggage and 32 for riding), 17 donkey handlers, three staff members of the Xinjiang Mountaineering Association, and us. The unusual rainy weather of the summer affected the 220-kilometer approach march. The rushing torrents of rivers forced us to stay on the banks for two days. It took 12 days of crossing the high-altitude desert to reach Base Camp (4850m) at the northern foot of the mountain.

We made Advanced Base Camp at 5200 meters. Equipment was carried there on the back of donkeys. Then we established Camp I at 5900 meters and Camp II at 6400 meters, both on the north ridge of Qong Muztag, by August 12. The ridge was broad and covered with deep snow.

On August 15, Eiho Otani, Hiroaki Kino, and Yasushi Tanahashi started their summit assault from Camp II. The previous day, they had fixed some pitches on the steep slopes of the “Snow Dome” (6650m) above CII in order to avoid the risk of avalanche.

Variable weather often forced them to stop going forward. A snowstorm eliminated visibility. They reached the bottom of the rock ridge near the summit at 2 p.m. Beijing time, when it began to snow fiercely. They stayed there for two hours waiting for a clear view. They chose a route along the contact line of a rock ridge and a steep snow slope, fixing 50 meters of static rope. The final section to the summit was an easy snow slope. At 5:30 p.m. they reached the summit.

The poor weather continued. At 9 p.m. Otani decided to bivouac beside the large rock on the saddle between the summit and the junction to the west peak (6740m). They made it back to CII the next day at 12:30 p.m.

Shin Yamada, Japan