Lara Shan (Peak 5,700m), first ascent, American Standard. Chad Kellogg and I were to make our second attempt on Mt. Siguniang (6,250m) in April. After reaching base camp at just under 12,000' in the Changping Valley, we decided on an unnamed, unclimbed 5,700m peak for our acclimatization climb. Our friend Jay Janousek joined us for this ascent. We spent three days approaching our high camp at 15,200', hiking up into a narrow hanging valley due west of the peak. These were relatively short days as we adjusted to the altitude. After another day of unsettled weather, we started the final ascent early in the morning on April 18. A 700-foot narrow snow couloir beside a jumbled glacier icefall provided a perfect keyhole to reach the main face. From here we navigated an easy but steep glacier, with several hanging seracs threatening various parts of the route (hence the name of the route: American Standard is a brand of toilet, and you’d better be careful or you might get flushed). Several steep-but-short ice steps provided fun cruxes. After topping out on the main headwall at just under 18,000', we followed a large plateau, with one major crevasse problem, to the summit pyramid. This consisted of a little more slogging and two pitches of glacial ice. We reached the summit in the early afternoon on April 18, a perfectly clear and windless day. So clear, in fact, that we could just make out Gongga Shan (7,556m , the highest peak in Western Sichuan) in the far distance. We started our descent and made 12 full 60m rappels, plus much downclimbing, and reached our camp just as the sun was setting.
After our descent, a few days of unsettled weather allowed us to rest and prepare for our bid on Siguniang, but we learned that Chad’s wife Lara died in the Alaska Range. Chad departed immediately, and our expedition ended. We suggest the name Lara Shan for the 5,700m previously untrodden summit, after our good friend Lara Karena Kellogg.
Chad and I thank the American Alpine Club for presenting us with the McNeill-Nott Award for our attempt on Siguniang.
Joseph Puryear, AAC