Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture, Mt. Chola (6,148m), third ascent; correction to 1988 “Cheru” ascent and altitude. We made the third known successful ascent of Mt. Chola (Lat: 31° 48' 0", Long: 99° 7' 0") on July 22, 2003. Chola is located in western Sichuan province, Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture, Dege County, near the eastern Tibet border. Our team put the first Tibetan on the summit. It was also the second ascent by Chinese and Americans. The summiters were Yihua Ma, Terry Choi, Jin Zhu, Ying Liu, Ping Wang, and me.
We approached the mountain from Xinlu Lake. Our route followed the east glacier to camp 1 at 5,000m. We then followed a steep slope to the right of a sub-peak marked as 5,290m on our map. From our camp 2 at 5,450m (on a large snow plateau) we followed the north slope to the summit. The last 100-plus meters to the summit is along a ridgeline.
We believe we followed the same route as Charlie Fowler’s alpine ascent in 1997. He listed Chola as 6,141m high (AAJ 1999, ppg. 210-213, and AAJ 1998, ppg. 353-357). We have listed it as 6,148m since that is what our GPS read at the summit. The latitude and longitude are the same.
Correction to the joint China-Japanese 1988 climb: This climb is listed in the 1990 AAJ article (p. 300) as Mt. Cheru and is recorded as 6,168m (lat: 31° 30' 0", long: 99° 0' 0"). This is the height shown on Chinese topographical maps from the 1970s. This peak is about 500m (direct line) from the peak we summited. Comparing photographs from the China-Japanese 1988 successful ascent, we verified that we summited the same peak. Thus, they actually summited peak 6,148 (Lat: 31° 48' 0", Long: 99° 7' 0"). Peak 6,168 is still unclimbed. From the summit of Mt. Chola we looked across at peak 6,168m. We were unable to tell if it was higher or not. Both are very close in height. The elevations listed on the old topographical maps can be off by 20-30m.
Basically, this mountain has two peaks about the same elevation in close proximity to each other. This is confusing. The ridgeline out to peak 6,168m is much longer and sharper than Mt. Chola’s ridge. One would have to climb both peaks with the same GPS unit to verify which is actually higher.
I suggest one name be chosen for this mountain—either Cheru or Chola. Then, each of these two peaks should be differentiated as I and II. Peak I: The peak that has been climbed (Lat: 31° 48' 0", Long: 99° 7' 0"). Peak II: The unclimbed peak listed as 6,168m on Chinese topographical maps from the 1970s (lat: 31° 30' 0", long: 99° 0' 0"). Note: We used a 1:100,000 scale Chinese topographical map from the 1970s.
The best time to climb this mountain is late July through August. During May the heavy spring snows melt rapidly due to warming air temperatures, which leads to unstable conditions. Late autumn should also be a good time but prepare for very cold temperatures.
Our climbing team consisted of: Jon Otto, USA (leader); Ma, Yihua, Beijing/Chengdu (leader); Terry Choi (Cai, Gantang), Hong Kong; Zhu, Jin, Jiangsu, China; Liu, Cong, Guangdong, China; Liu, Ying, Chengdu; Lin, Chao, Chengdu; Wang, Ping, Sichuan (Tibetan); Chen, Gang, Shaanxi, China; Ding, Yinglu, Shanghai, China.
Jon Otto, AAC