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Shey Shikhar, First Ascent

The 41-year old Japanese mountaineer Katsuhito Fujikawa made the first ascent of Shey Shikhar (6,139m), an elegant peak in the Dolpo region immediately southeast of the Kanjiroba Group. In 1995 American Geoff Tabin was offered a permit for Shey Shikhar from Tso Karpo Lake to the north. However, on entering the Tso Karpo valley above the large lake of Phoksumdo, he found that an approach to the mountain (marked as Junction Peak on some maps) would be suicidal from this direction and instead turned to the highest peak in the valley, Tso Karpo Kang (6,556m). This peak directly north of Shey Shikhar had first been climbed from the south by two Japanese in 1971 (though it was not added to the official list of permitted peaks until 2002). Tabin’s expedition made the second and third ascents, via the southwest ridge and via a more direct route up the southeast face. The team also made the probable first ascents of a mountain to the southwest they called Bahini Kang (6,100m) and, to the east, Kang Yaja (5,962m), via the south ridge.

The well-traveled Japanese explorer Tamotsu Ohnishi reached the Tso Karpo Lake in 2003 but was not able to make a serious attempt on Shey Shikhar due to bad weather. He planned to try the east ridge from a base camp at a little over 4,200m, noting that there was a 200m rock wall that looked steep and loose.

Katsuhito Fujikawa reports setting up base camp at 4,700m on August 20. He climbed directly from this camp to the crest of the east ridge at 5,500m, overcoming a loose rock face at an angle of around 50-60°. The crest above was steep, narrow and about one kilometer in length, with precipitous drops on both sides, before he reached the summit. Fujikawa appears to have made the climb in one push on the 23rd, leaving base camp at 3 a.m. and returning at 9:30 p.m.