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China, Qonglai Shan, Siguniang National Park, Shuangqiao Gou, First Ascents of "Pakla Shan," "Shuangquio Peak," and the Northwest Face of Tan Shan

Shuangqiao Gou, first ascents of“Pakla Shan,” “Shuangqiao Peak,” and the northwest face of Tan Shan. The Croatian Mountaineering Federation, to celebrate its 130th anniversary, organized a small expedition to Siguniang National Park. There were four of us: Darko Berljak as leader, Dubravko Markovic as doctor, and two climbers, Ivica Matkovic from Split and I, Boris Cujic, from Zagreb. Our trip lasted from September 13 to October 15. After reaching Rilong by bus, we took a ride into the Shuangqiao Gou (Two Bridges Valley), where we set up base camp. We then chose to climb in a smaller valley, a three-hour walk away. It was the valley where Slovenians Andrej and Tanja Grmovsek had climbed in 2003 (see AAJ 2004 pp. 420-422).

On the day after our arrival at base camp, Ivica and I set off for the first of our objectives: the northwest face of Tan Shan (4,943m), a peak first climbed by the Grmovseks via a hard route on the south face (Don’t Fly Away, 450m, VIII/VIII+ obl). We climbed a new 450m route up a big dihedral system, with difficulties up to ca. 6a+. We rappelled the line, using only two bolts for anchors. A long period of bad weather then confined us to camp, even forcing us down to Rilong for a beer.

After 10 days we returned to our advanced base, but the following morning it started raining, and we couldn’t even see the wall. At 11 a.m. it began to clear, and we started up a new route on a small wall 100m from camp, facing the route we had previously climbed on Tan Shan. The rock was wet, but after four hours we reached a 4,600m previously unclimbed summit. We christened the peak Pakla Shan (in honor of our own famous crag, Paklenica) and the route up the southeast face For Sanja and Adela (after our wives, who always support us). The length of the route was 450m and the difficulty 6b.

The next day, at last, was beautiful, and we started up our main goal, unclimbed Shuangqiao Peak (5,100m). We chose a fairly direct line up the south face. The rock was bad in the lower part but very good in the upper part. However, with a drill it would have been possible to make a nice route in the lower section. Our new route, named Kingdom of Heaven (the old Chinese name for Sichuan) was 780m long, with difficulties of 6c+. We rappelled the line of ascent.

The potential for long, hard big wall routes is this area is huge, even extremely hard climbs. Everything is cheap, and access is good, with approachs of from two to six hours from the vehicle. The best months are September and October, but rain or snow is normal. In winter there are nice waterfalls for climbing.

Boris Cujic, Croatia

Editor's note: very recent information suggests that the south face of Shuangqiao may have been climbed in 2000 by Italians Gianluca Belin and Diego Stefani (850m: 6c and A1). They refer to the summit as Wong Shan.