American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tibet, Nyainqentangla East Range, Niwu Valley, Chukporisum (6359m), Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Niwu Valley, Chukporisum (6,359m), attempt. In September 2003 a team of four members traveled to the little-explored Nyainqentangla East range in Tibet. Situated 400km northeast of Lhasa, this range has seen little exploration or climbing to date and therefore promised a wealth of exploratory mountaineering. The team had permits to climb Nenang (6,870m), Chachaco (6,575m), and Jomo Taktse (6,582m). The team consisted of Phil Amos, Bryan Godfrey, and myself, all from Edinburgh, U.K., and Graham Rowbotham from Vancouver, Canada. Amos, Godfrey, and I arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal on September 14, with Rowbotham arriving the next day. This left just enough time to finalize visas before we flew to Lhasa on September 16.

We met up with the agent in Lhasa and did some last minute organization before leaving in three Land Cruisers on September 19. We experienced some very poor road conditions and were eventually stopped by landslides 40km short of Niwu, where we had planned to walk for three days to a base camp in the upper Niwu Valley. We waited for four days for enough horses to carry our equipment, and then walked for six days to get to base camp, which we established at 4,300m.

We spent four days exploring around base camp before realizing that due to problems of access and the available maps being inaccurate, none of the proposed peaks were feasible. We eventually decided to attempt a mountain previously unknown to us called Chukporisum (6,359m). On October 6 all four of us walked to an advanced base camp and spent the next 8 days on the attempt. Two days were spent ferrying loads, and then the mountain was attempted in pure alpine style from 5,140m. A summit attempt from a high camp at 6,040m ended at 6,180m in extreme cold and wind.

Unfortunately, because of the time lost due to the landslides on the road while getting to the mountain, no time was left for any further attempts. We then sent our guide and cook out to Niwu and the roadhead with the gear while we proceeded to make a complete circumnavigation of the northern part of the range. This involved the first western crossing of a pass at 5,300m and another pass at 5,100m, in five days. We were back in Lhasa on October 26 before traveling back to Kathmandu overland in three days.

Adam Thomas, U.K.

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