Barbarian (5,592m), Savage Sister (ca 16,390'), attempts. Josh Butson and I returned to the Changping Goa Valley in late September searching for another remote adventure. From the previous year’s experience, we knew our objective: the mountain locals call “The Barbarian.” But when we arrived at the mountains base, we gave up on our big wall gear as we watched bus-sized blocks tumble from the large amphitheater above the great east wall. Underestimating the valley is one thing, hiking for a week to this seeping chosspile was another feeling altogether. Steep overhanging roofs and polished granite made up the lower reaches of the wall, with enormous stretches of featureless granite. Having no bolts, we searched the cirque only to find that there was no “good” way up the mountain. Our ethos of alpine style and “leave no trace” would have no place here. It would take a lot of juice and time to drill the wall—a Warren Hardingsized effort. To the left there was little hope in 2007, but in 2006 there had been a ramp above a serac band that could have provided easy access to the upper mountain. The valley would be a dangerous place in the winter, but I suspect that there could be a 1,000m ice climb right up the heart of the east face.
After retreating from below the Barbarian, we attempted an innocent- looking pyramid adjacent to the Four Sisters group of peaks, where a mixed route took us from base camp at 16,500' to an estimated altitude of over 18,000' before stopping us short on a wind lip that settled like a hippopotamus rolling over. Many days of freezing rain had destroyed the last of a consolidated summer snowpack. On our descent we narrowly avoided considerable rock- fall on a talus slope. We called the mountain the Savage Sister.
Josh and I have climbed on several peaks in the Changping Goa Valley, where we succeeded in sending hard onsight gound-up mixed, rock, and ice climbs with little more than pins and the occasional pinky-sized hex. The climbing here is runout, very heady, and chances for a rescue are slim to none. If you stick to peaks like Pumio, The Falcon, and Siguniang, the rock is granite with some splitters, and the new route potential is enormous. There are also easier objectives for the classic mountaineer, including moderate snow climbs accessible in a few days.
Ben Clark, AAC