On November 28 Martin Ploug and I, from Denmark, made the first ascent of Ren Zhong Feng, a little-known peak that was believed to be one of the few remaining unclimbed 6,000m summits in Sichuan Province.
We established base camp at 3,100m in the Gan Gou Valley northeast of the mountain, and a higher camp at 4,500m. We decided to climb alpine-style up the right side of the east face to gain the north ridge. Our third member, Carsten Cooper-Jensen, opted out, feeling he would slow us. With no prior acclimatization we climbed to 5,200m the first day, in an open gully. We spent the next day resting, to improve acclimatization, and on the following day climbed to a second bivouac, at 5,500m. We spent our third day on the crest of the north ridge, at 5,675m. We had overcome most of the technical difficulties and most of the altitude, but still needed to reach the summit. However, the ridge above was 1½ km long, and often sharp. A storm and bulletproof ice made it a long, tiring climb; we reached the summit at 5:30 p.m. It took 18 hours to climb to the top and return to the bivouac site. Although the summit altitude is officially given as 6,079m, our altimeters and GPS recorded ca 5,800m.
Descending during the night, Martin slipped while trying to place an ice screw and fell 30m down the 1,000m west face. Luckily, I managed the classic maneuver of jumping down the east face and thus holding him on the rope. He was battered and bruised but, assisted by painkillers, made it back to our top bivouac. We rested on the 29th, before descending to base camp on the 30th. We graded the 1,300m route, which was free from objective danger, TD M4 WI4.
Logistics went smoothly. Tom Nakamura had been helpful in supplying us with information, and we used the company, Sichuan Earth Expeditions, that he had employed when visiting the area. Unfortunately, we paid the Sichuan Mountaineering Association for a virgin 6,000er and were unable to convince them that we were entitled to a refund, as the peak is likely 200m lower.
Kristoffer Szilas, Denmark