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Asia, Tibet, Kula Kangri Central and East, First Ascents

Kula Kangri Central and East, first ascents. In spring a joint expedition comprising 11 Japanese (leader, Yoshitsugu Deriha) and eight Tibetans (leader, Tseden Jigmy) made the first ascents of Kula Kangri Central (Kula Kangri II; 7418m) and Kula Kangri East (Kula Kangri III; 7381m), both of which lie along the ridge running east from the Main (7538m) summit. These were wrongly reported in AAJ 1998 as having been climbed by a Spanish expedition in May 1997. The Spanish climbed only the main summit, noting the existence of two unclimbed subsidiary summits to the east.

The expedition set up base camp on April 1 in the village of Monda at 4250m, then used 85 horses and donkeys to transport equipment to an advanced base at 5400m. Progressing up the moraines on the west bank of the glacier, the team established Camp 1 at 5900m in the upper cwm below the mountain. A route was opened through a large icefall to reach the ridge connecting the east summit with Karjiang (7221m), and Camp 2 placed at 6350m. One aluminium ladder and 1,500 meters of rope were fixed on this section. The climbers then slanted up the northwestern flank of Kulu Kangri East, fixing another 1,500 meters of rope. By the 30th they had established Camp 3 at ca 7100m on the west side of the east summit, from where two Tibetans and two Japanese reached the previously unclimbed central summit on May 2. Two days later three Tibetans and six Japanese reached the east summit. On May 5 another group left Camp 3 intending to traverse the central summit and continue along the ridge to Kulu Kangri Main. However, due to poor weather and bad visibility they turned back. The following day they made a second attempt and reached the central summit but the weather turned bad again, so they retreated. In total 17 climbers made successful summit bids.

Tamotsu Nakamura, Japanese Alpine News