West Sichuan Highland, an exploratory visit and first ascent of Peak 5,160m. On the advice of Tamotsu Nakamura, a party from the Yamanashi Mountaineering Federation visited the unknown mountains of South Kham, Sichuan, from October 1 to 16. The area is located at the west end of the Litang High Plateau at approximately N 30° 10', E 99° 30'. It lies south of the Sich- uan-Tibet Highway, north of the Genyen Massif (6,204m) in the Shahluli Shan and east of the Upper Yangtze (Jinshajiang or River of Golden Sand). To the best of our knowledge and that of Mr. Nakamura, there was no record of foreigners visiting the area since Brigadier George Pereiras tragic journey in 1923. However, Pereira didn’t go to the mountains that we planned to explore.
The party consisted of me, Shigeru Aoki, as leader and six other members, including four from a university alpine club. We focused on exploring the region around a hidden glacier lake, Tsonahou Tso, in particular a group of unknown 5,700-5,800m peaks southwest of the lake. The highest, which is nameless, has an elevation of 5,870m. The second highest is called Xiangqiuqieke (5,863m), and there are two 5,700m peaks. The lake, which lies in Batang County, is comb shaped, 3.5km long, 600-700m wide, and 8km in circumference.
On October 5, after a four-day drive from Chengdu, we left the Sichuan Highway at road maintenance office 283 (4,392m) on the Litang Plateau and began our caravan towards the southwest. Four horses, 11 yaks, and 3 Tibetan muleteers dealt with our loads. We crossed a 4,950m pass and walked 20km the first day. This took us to a good camping location near the lake. We set up a base camp on a grassy spot at 4,600m, looking down on the lake. Beyond and to the southwest, 5,000m peaks were visible, as were snow-clad 6,000m peaks farther west. We stopped here for four days, during which the weather was bad, with snow every afternoon.
On the second day we explored Tsonahou Tso. It is a glacier lake damming a U-shaped valley at a height of 4,300m. The water was a beautiful emerald green. Player flags of local Tibetan Buddhists were fluttering on the bank and in the valley. On the third day all members ascended a nameless 5,160m peak from the north and studied neighboring high peaks, with Himalayan fluted ice, for as long as time allowed. The enigmatic 5,800m Xiangqiuqieke and other outstanding peaks were revealed to us. On the fifth day we started our return journey Shigeru Aoki, translated by Tom Nakamura of the Japanese Alpine News