Shuangqiao Valley, Daogou West, first ascent. In late September Vaughn Thomas (Australia) and I made the first ascent of the granite peak of Daogou West (5,422m), via the south face. The weather was unstable during most of our stay, with the best weather windows occurring at the end of September and beginning of October.
During one of these good spells we made two attempts on the face, on the second of which we reached the summit. The south face is 600m high, and we climbed it in nine pitches, plus some scrambling, to a foresummit. We then followed the ridge rightward for three more pitches to the base of the main summit, which we climbed in two pitches. The route has 700m of vertical gain and is mostly free rock climbing, with snow ledges and ramps. We made one small pendulum and a 10m rappel to avoid a gendarme in the upper section. The grade was 5.10 A0 and the rock of the highest quality for the entire route.
We climbed and descended the route in a day from a bivouac at the foot. We descended mostly by rappel, with a deviation to avoid reversing the ridge. We left a single nut or knotted sling at each anchor. There remain many unclimbed granite ridges and faces in and around the Shuangqiao and Changping valleys, and even a few impressive summits yet to bear a flag.
Kester Brown, Aotearoa/New Zealand