Located on the Qinghai-Ganshou border in central China, the Qilian (locally, the “Heavenly Mountains”) run northwest for some 800km from the town of Xining. The main range is split between northwestern and southeastern sections, though a separate sub-group to the west of the southeastern section includes the highest peak, Kangze'gyai (ca 5,800m, see AAJ 2010). The highest peak in the main range is Qilian Shan (Qilianin, 5,547m), situated in the northwestern sector. From late July to early August Oh Young- hoon’s 14-member Korean Youth Expedition planned to climb Gradiska (5,254m), the highest peak in the southeastern group. This peak has only been open to foreign mountaineers since 2000, and the first ascent is believed to have been made by Japanese in 2004. Information is hard to find, but the mountain is rarely visited and only the southwest face has been climbed.
The group established base camp at 4,100m, after a four-hour drive from Xining to Menwuan (3,600m), followed by three or four hours of walking. They placed Camp 1 at 4,600m, from where moraine led to 400m-high summit slopes up to 55°.
Most other mountains in the region are unclimbed and the expedition made first ascents of Peaks 4,722m and 4,880m.
Christine Pae, Director Korean Alpine Federation, and Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO