Minya Konka, eighth ascent and new route on nearby Eva Shan. If you love sunny places, Sichuan isn’t the area of your dreams. The climbers of French High Mountain Military Group went there last autumn to climb Minya Konka (or Gongga Shan 7,556m). They spent one month at base camp (4,400m) as there were only 4 days of good weather during which reach the summit. We didn’t acclimatize well and there was really a lot of fresh snow. Only two days after arriving at base camp, most of the climbers had already climbed one of the two acclimatisation peaks: Gomba (5,605m) or Nochma (5,575m). Laurent did a paragliding flight from the summit of Nochma. But the day after this, came the snow. They stayed above us for 10 days. We could only walk around base camp. Our main activities were to dig a path into the snow, eating, sleeping, reading, and playing cards, all significant expeditionary skills. Nevertheless, Greg and Manu climbed a gully on Eva Shan 5,705m (Eva is Greg’s daughter) Plate-forme (800m, D+).
We gave up our first project, which had been to climb a new route on the southwest ridge of Minya Konka. On October 6th, six climbers returned to and slept at the high point reached earlier, 5,700m. The day after, they climbed into deep snow to 6,300m and put camp 3 behind the “hump.” From the top of the “hump,” at 6,400m, we rappelled. The third day, at 3:00 a.m., Philippe, Thomas, the two Laurents, François, and Antoine left camp. Four of us had to stop around 7,000m because we were poorly acclimatized. Laurent M. climbed up to 7,400m carrying his paraglider, but he couldn’t fly. Antoine reached the top at 10 a.m. Two days later, the snow came back. Nobody could try again. On October 15th, we were trekking back to the monastery. Only eight expeditions have reached that summit from two ridges (northwest and northeast), for a total of 20 climbers since 1932. The main difficulties are situated after 7,100m with 45°/50° slopes.
Team members were: Jérôme Blaise (Doctor), Laurent Carrier, Antoine De Choudens, Thomas Faucheur, Laurent Miston, Grégory Muffat-Joly, Emmanuel Pellissier, Philippe Renard, François Savary. (See “Minya Konka” in AAJ 2002 for the story of the first ascent—Ed.)
Antoine de Choudens, French High Mountain Military Group (GMHM)