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Asia, Tibet, Kangri Garpo Range, Exploration

Kangri Garpo Range, exploration. During October and November 2001, New Zealanders John Wild, Wilf Dickerson, Nick Shearer, Colin Monteath and I (leader), accompanied by trekkers Jos Lang and Betty Monteath went on a recce expedition to the remote and stunningly beautiful Kangri Garpo range, three days’ drive southeast of Lhasa largely on the southern Sichuan-Tibet Highway. From the junction at Rawu the last section of the road passes beneath the partially restored monastery of Shugden Gompa and continues to the village of Lhagu. Yaks and ponies were used for transport to a base camp, one day’s walk above Lhagu. No high summits were reached. However, what was probably the first traverse of the 30 km long Lhagu glacier to its expansive upper névé was undertaken on skis, an unclimbed subsidiary bump of 5,750 metres was ascended on skis and a legion of 6,000-to 6,600-meter peaks were seen and committed to photographic memory. Colin Monteath was lucky to survive an unroped 20-meter fall into a narrow crevasse high on the Lhagu névé while skiing. Characteristically he continued professional photography from its icy bowels. The group also visited the Ata Kang La area where the Tibetan plateau topples steeply over into the jungles of India. There was clear cold autumn weather for much of the period but unfortunately unsettled spells with wind and light snow came at critical periods for climbing. The 250 km long Kangri Garpo range is just north of the Burma and Assam borders and east of the big bend in the Tsangpo river and Namcha Barwa, the farthest outpost of the Himalaya. No major peaks in the range have been climbed. The expedition was supported generously by a Shipton/Tilman grant and a Mount Everest Foundation grant (UK).

John Nankervis, New Zealand Alpine Club