American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tibet, Bhutan Himalaya, Lhozhag Region, Kula Kangri I (7,538m) (Künla Kangri, Main Peak), Attempt

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  • Publication Year: 2005

Kula Kangri I (7,538m) (Künla Kangri, Main Peak), attempt. This assault on the main peak of Kula Kangri was combined with a training program for members of the Nihon University Alpine Club. Due to bad weather and an accident we were not able to mount an assault on the summit. On this climb we had planned to use the original route but, because of what appears to be likely avalanches from the west ridge, changed our route. This report introduces the first climb of the snow ridge on the lower side of the west ridge from the beginning of the west ridge to Camp Two.

Schedule of the expedition: September 5, Depart Lhasa for Zar village; Sep. 10, set up Base Camp (5,335m); Sep. 19, Set up Camp 1 (5,745m); October 4, Set up Camp 2 (6,200m); Oct. 5, Reached Camp 3 (6,900m); Oct. 9, Removed Camp 2; Oct. 10, Removed Camp 1; Oct. 13, Removed Base Camp.

Our new route from end of the narrow snow ridge of the west ridge to Camp 2 was able to avoid the danger of avalanches. For a while the ridge was fairly easy, but from the fourth pitch the slope exceeds 50°. On the ninth and tenth pitches the slope exceeds 70° and becomes a snow wall; beyond this it becomes less steep. We established this route in the middle of September and our movements were hindered every day around noon by clouds from the Bhutan side covering the west ridge and heavy snow with visibility under five meters. From Camp Two to Camp three, however, we retraced a route that had been already opened and paved by a French party that year. Although they were strong Himalayan climbers with years of experiences, time constraint forced them to give up an assault to the summit. For this year we felt it would have been best to have delayed our climb by two weeks.

Members: Susumu Nakamura (leader), Atsuo Sugiyama (climbing leader),Yoshitaka Omae, Takashi Suda (student), CTMA officer (1), cook (1), Chinese members (2).

Tamotsu Nakamura’s notes on Kula Kangri [there is a photo of the Kula Kangri group in the AAJ 2001, p. 399]:

166km south of Lhasa (90°33'E and 28°13'N), the Kula Kangri massif soars over the greater Himalayan range in Tibet. Rising to 7,538m, the main peak (Kula Kangri I) has six neighboring peaks over 7,000m in Lhozhag of the Tibet Autonomous Region. To the southwest stand Kula Kangri II (7,418m, Central Peak) and III (7,381m, East Peak), while to the northeast are Karejiang I (7,221m) and II (7,045m). The above mountain heights are based on A Guide to Mountaineering in China (The China Mountaineering Association, 1993). A climbing chronicle follows:

Kula Kangri I (7,538m, Main Peak):

1985 April: The Alpine Club of Kobe University sent a reconnaissance party.

1986, March to May: The Alpine Club of Kobe University headed by Dr. Kazumasa Hirai made the first ascent on April 20 via the west ridge.

1994, April to May: An Austrian party made the second ascent on May 1 via the same route on the west ridge as the Kobe University climbed.

Kula Kangri II (7,418m) and III (7,381m) (Central Peak and East Peak):

2001, March to May: The Alpine Club of Tokai University made the first ascent of Kula Kangri II on May 2 and Kula Kanrgi III on May 4. A record of the expedition was published on the Japanese Alpine News Vol. 2 April 2002.

Karejiang I (7,221m, Main Peak):

1986, September to November: A party of the Himalayan Association of Japan made the first ascent on October 14 via the west ridge.

Susumu Nakamura, Nihon University Alpine Club, Japan

Adapted from Japanese Alpine News, Tamotsu Nakamura, Editor

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