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China, Qonglai Shan, Siguniang National Park, Eagle Rock Peak, First Ascent

Eagle Rock Peak, first ascent. A man wearing a leather jacket with a bloody knife in his hands stands by the roadside, digging inside the body of a slaughtered yak. We realized we were in China.

Christof Looser, Martin Ruggli, and I started out for the now-famous Quonglai mountains, 280km east of Chengdu, on September 25. Our goal was to establish a new route on one of the rock peaks north of Siguniang. Our information came from Tamotsu Nakamura.

After reconnaissance we set up base camp in the Shuangqiao Valley (Double Bridge Valley) at an altitude of ca. 3,500m. Recently a (horrible) road has been built into this valley to bring hundreds of Chinese tourists from one scenic spot to the next. The tourists stick pretty much to the road, leaving the rest of the valley quiet.

After a few days we discovered the beautiful, interesting, south face of Eagle Rock Peak (ca. 5,300m) south of Putala Shan. The summit looks like an eagles beak and can be seen from the valley floor, but the south face is hidden.

Sichuan does not seem to be a place for those who like stable weather, and we had to deal with a mix of snow, rain, and clouds, with only a few spells of sunshine. During changable weather we set up high camp at 4,500m and ferried everything we needed. We had five 60m ropes: two twins and three singles.

Due to continuing poor weather we fixed the first 240m (eight pitches). After 12 days (five days ferrying loads, three days fixing, and four days of bad weather) we set off for the big push. On the first day we jugged our ropes and climbed to the top of pitch 13, where we could fit a small tent. The next day we fixed three 60m ropes on the head- wall. On the day after, October 14, we reached the previously virgin summit in evening light and returned to the tent, before starting our descent the following morning. In all, we spent seven days on the wall. Our route, which we named I Hate Camping, is about 700m long, 21 pitches, with difficulties up to 7a and A3. We placed a total of 13 bolts. The east side of Shuangqiao Valley sports many rocky peaks with big granite walls. There is great potential for future climbs, but many faces are slabby and lacking in features. As far as we are aware we were the only climbers in the valley during our time there in October.

Lukas Dürr, Switzerland

Editor's note: Eagle Rock Peak is the south summit of Putala Shan. The latter has three summits. The highest (5,428m) is the most northerly and was climbed in 2003 by Andrej and Tanja Grmovsek (see AAJ 2004, pp. 420-2).