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Asia, Tibet, Bhutan Himalaya, Lhozhag Region, Monda Kangri (6,426m), Attempt

Monda Kangri (6,426m), attempt. Monda Kargri is located at 28.2°N and 90.6°E, 145km south of Lhasa. It is an isolated massif a little to the north of the mighty Ghula (Kula) Kangri, a 7,538m massif soaring to the west of Lake Phulma (Puma Yum Tso) in the Bhutan Himalaya. The Monda Kangri massif is independent from Ghula Kangri and has four peaks exceeding 6,000m. We have temporarily called these East Peak, West Peak, South Peak, and North Peak. The highest one is East Peak, 6,425m according to the 1:100,000 topographical map that we obtained from the Tibet Mountaineering Association. A photograph in Immortal Mountains in the Snow Region compiled by the China Mountaineering Association is not of the highest peak, but that of the North Peak (6,221m). No one, even the local nomads, knew the origin of the name Monda Kangri.

The approach to Monda Kangri is very easy. One can reach BC on the eastern bank of Puma Yum Tso in a one-day drive from Lhasa. Nevertheless, only one party had challenged the mountain before, that being the Montagne Alpine Club of Japan, which attempted the west face in July-August 1992. They set up BC at Monda La (5,266m) and climbed a very difficult rock face and ridge until ca 6,000m. Knowing that it has remained unclimbed, the alpine club in Sendai City of the northeastern region of Japan sent an expedition to Monda Kangri in June in commemoration of their 60th anniversary.

Our intended route ascended the west glacier to a col between the South Peak (6,250m) and the West Peak (6,291m). The ridge from the col leads to the summit of the highest peak in one kilometer. No reconnaissance of the east face of the main peak was allowed because the eastern side of the mountain is not open to foreigners.

On June 14 we gained the glacier at 5,400m, and we reached 6,100m on June 17, where we were blocked by large crevasses. We did not carry sufficient climbing gear to overcome such treacherous obstacles, and we were forced to give up the climb. The weather conditions were favorable throughout the activity. There was some thunder in the afternoon, and not much danger of avalanches because new snow was scarce. We strictly observed no trash mountaineering.

Japanese expedition members: leader: Tsuguyoshi Takahashi (62); climbing leader: Ryo Higasino (59); members: Makoto Saito (66), Sho Takeda (64), Zin Suzuki (60), Shigeru Suzuki (54), and Hitomi Kataoka (30). Chinese members: liaison officer: Zhang Jian Yuan, Vice-President, China Mountaineering Association; coordinator: Zhang Shaohong, Sichuan Earth Expedition, Inc.; high altitude support and guide: four Tibetans.

Ryo Higashino, Japan

Adapted from Japanese Alpine News, Tamotsu Nakamura, Editor