American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Peak ca 6,000m, Southwest Face, Attempt; Jiazi (6,540m), West Face, Not to Summit

Asia, China, Daxu Shan, Minya Konka Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Pascal Trividic
  • Climb Year: 2008
  • Publication Year: 2010

In 2008, during an expedition to the Minya Konka Range (AAJ 2009, pp 350-352), Sébastien Moatti and I climbed a nameless summit of 5,200m in the Tshiburongi Valley north of Riuchi Gongga. While making this ascent, I noticed a towering granite wall rising from just beyond the base of the Tshiburongi Glacier. With its image burned into my mind, I returned in 2009 to tackle it with French guides Pierre Labbre, Rémi Sfilio, and Baptiste Rostaing-Puissant.

We established camp on October 3 at the foot of the Tshiburongi moraine. This would be our base for the next 22 days. We then required four days to ferry our technical equipment, including two portaledges, 200m of static line, and food, to the bottom of the face, a 900m vertical wall shaped like a cannon shell and topped by 150m of mixed terrain and ribs leading to a nameless summit of ca 6,000m. It took 3½ days to open the first 400m, where the rock varied from compact to crumbling flakes. During the third night a stone, falling from high above, hit my chest, the first in a series of misfortunes that would end our attempt. Next day a faulty rope maneuver, and the sack containing all our supplies fell to the foot of the wall. This conclusively forced our retreat.

To the high point we had climbed and equipped (one 8mm bolt and piton at each belay) eight pitches: the first three up a wide crack (6b and A2,180m); a long traverse pitch on mixed ground (5 and M4, 80m), and four steep pitches (6b and A2, 200m).

While I was treated at Kangding’s hospital (nothing broken, just a crushed muscle), Pierre and Rémi attempted the west face of Jiazi via a different line from the one we tried in 2008. It took 2½ days to reach the top of this 1,300m-long mixed face. The climb, which resembled the Colton-MacIntyre route on the Grandes Jorasses, followed a series of steep snow slopes, ice gullies, and mixed terrain (TD+, WI5+ and M4). They reached the south ridge and climbed to an altitude of 6,200m, before strong wind and poor snow conditions turned them back. They descended the south ridge to the col between Jiazi and Grosvenor, from where they rappeled the west face for 150m from Abalakovs to reach the glacier. They made two bivouacs; one at around two-thirds height on the face and a second on the col. This is the second route on the west face of Jiazi, yet neither has reached the summit.

Pascal Trividic, France

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