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Asia, China, Kun Lun, Yume Muztagh, First Ascent

Yume Muztagh, first ascent. At 11:05 a.m. on August 1 all four members of our expedition succeeded in making the first ascent of an unnamed 6,345m peak in the Kun Lun Mountains. Although our average age was 61, all participated in every aspect of the climb, including load carrying, reconnaissance, and route selection. We did not employ local porters, horses, donkeys, or camels. Moreover, we received no outside financial and material support; the expedition, including a reconnaissance trip in 2004, was financed solely by its members. The party comprised a group of friends who have climbed together for decades and are well aware of each other’s abilities and limitations.

The Xinjiang-Tibet Highway runs southeast from Kashgar along the southwestern edge of the Taklimakan Desert. At Yecheng the road splits, with the Highway running south, then southeast into the Lingzi Thang Plains, while a left branch continues east along the edge of the desert. We drove along the Highway for ca. 530m and made our base camp at one of the truck stops at Dahongliutan. Our proposed virgin peak was located 16km northeast of this point at N 35° 41'; E 79° 41' [These mountains are often referred to as the Aksai Chin—Ed.]. Our peak, the highest among a group of 6,000m mountains, lay at the end of a broad valley that curves towards the southeast. It is not visible from the road.

Because of the rich history and romance associated with the Silk Road, we were interested in the Kun Lun Mountains, rather than the better known Himalaya or Karakoram. A reconnaissance team in 2004 chose the mountain for its easy approach and, out of consideration for our ages, lack of great technical difficulty. So it was that on July 21, 2005,1 (66) as leader, Hiromitsu Izutani (61), Toshikazu Kurimoto (56), and Eizo Maeda (61) arrived at Dahongliutan (4,265m). Although basic and without toilet facilities, the truck stop provided us with spacious and luxurious living quarters (compared to a tent), hot water, and a warm environment for recovery.

Conditions were such that we were able to drive eight kilometers across the desert and establish our advance base camp at 5,440m. The next day we placed Camp 1 on the shoulder of a scree-covered ridge at 5,800m. Above, a mixture of snow and rock led over a small top at 6,100m to a col on the far side at 6,010m, where we placed our second camp. We left here on August 1 and followed the snow-covered ridge crest, with a large cornice to one side, until a steep snow slope led to a junction with the north ridge. A gentle plateau extended toward the summit, which was a broad snow dome. We reached this easily and returned to Camp 1 the same day. We christened our mountain Yume Muztagh, a name that was later approved by the Kashgar Mountaineering Association. Yume means “dreams” in Japanese, while Muztagh is a snow-or ice-covered mountain in the local language of Uighur. All four of us are alumni of Kyoto University Alpine Club (KUAC) and members of the Academic Alpine Club of Kyoto University (AACK).

Toshio Itoh, Japan