In 2007 Dick Isherwood, Peter Rowat, and I attempted Yang- molong [AAJ 2008). In September-October 2009 we returned with Derek Buckle to explore the northern approaches. We traveled up the Sanchu River valley and stayed at lower Sanglong Xi, before setting up base camp on the riverside east of Yangmolong, at an altitude of 4,000m. The local people identified the expedition as a suitable target for extortion, which became more serious following several thefts; binoculars, food, a stove, trekking poles, etc were stolen. The binoculars were eventually “ransomed.” The police were summoned but tacitly admitted they were unlikely to obtain statements from the local community For the duration of our time at base camp the support team slept virtually on top of remaining stores and was forced to hire “camp guards” from among the more law-abiding locals.
After several reconnaissance walks, we realized there was nothing for it but an arduous 1,000m ascent to an advanced base camp on glacial moraine below the east ridge of Yangmolong. A period of prolonged bad weather followed the establishment of this camp, during which we kicked our heels at base camp listening to rain hammering flysheets. When the weather finally cleared, we made several forays onto the flanks of the east ridge. However, we found no line that would offer a safe route to the crest. With time running out, Derek and I established a camp on a col at the head of the glacier cirque and prepared to tackle the shallow ridge and steep face above. However, more unstable weather rolled in, and after two days of abortive alpine starts we decamped to advanced base.
On the one remaining day available for climbing, Derek and I attempted the 5,700m satellite peak to the north, but the upper part of the route proved too difficult in the deteriorating weather. The team evacuated the valley amid more tension and unpleasantness from the locals, including theft of money from the bus driver at the roadhead.
Something had changed significantly in this valley. In 2007 it had been populated by friendly, helpful people, but in 2009 we encountered only a few whom we recognized from
the earlier visit. Perhaps the 2008 disturbances, which resulted in a police house being burned down in a neighboring valley, had some influence. However, there seemed to be only two observable material changes: the illegal logging of virgin forest, which started in 2007, had been shut down by the government, although a new road and electricity pylons had been built to the village as compensation. And during 2007 there had not been a single monk or nun in evidence in the valley, while in 2009 there was a significant presence. No one on the team has any inclination to return. We wish to acknowledge the support given by the Mount Everest Foundation.
Dave Wynne-Jones, Alpine Club