American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reddomain (6,112m), second ascent, first ski descent via west ridge

Asia, China, Daxue Shan, Minya Konka Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Ingrid Backstrom
  • Climb Year: 2009
  • Publication Year: 2011

Jimmy Chin, Giulia Monego, Kasha Rigby, and I established base camp on September 29, 2009, at 4,500m and the following day scoped a new access to the west ridge from the north. On October 4 we walked up moraine and climbed steep snow to the west ridge. After a section of loose rock and delicate steps, we reached the hanging glacier at 5,200m, where we set up camp.

On the 5th we climbed mixed snow and rock on the crest to reach a snow gully, where we joined the route of the first ascensionists, who arrived at this point from the south [Japanese Norisuke Ogawa, Hiroyuki Takahashi, and Yuji Tashiro, who in 1999 fixed ropes and placed two camps on the west ridge, reporting dangerous cornices and slopes up to 70° a little below the summit]. From that point it was a long walk on snow, navigating through crevasses, while keeping our distance from the crest. Due to unstable weather from the south, which brought strong wind and poor visibility, the climb was tough and slow. We expected to find wind-packed snow, but it was surprisingly soft.

The top appeared to be split by a huge fracture, dividing it into two summits. Visibility wasn’t good enough to see which was the higher, but the difference seemed insignificant. We assumed the one we reached was the top and put on our skis. We were able to ski all the way to the junction with the original route at ca 5,400m. Keeping skis on, we rappeled for 10m, then skied to the rocky section directly above camp. We took off skis, made one full-length rappel, downclimbed a section, and resumed skiing to our camp.

Next day we climbed back onto the west ridge and skied the snowy talus we'd ascended. The visibility was good and the snow soft at the outset, though it became heavy and wet toward the end. The snow line was at ca 4,800m, from where we walked down to base camp. Next day we were back in Kangding.

Ingrid Backstrom, provided by Tamotsu Nakamura, Japanese Alpine News

Editor's note: In this report from AAJ 2011, we reported the second ascent of this mountain. In fact this was the third ascent, the second taking place on October 4, 2006, when American Alpine Institute guide Aidan Leohr, with clients Bill Filimore and Colin Overy, reached the summit in a 17-hour round trip from their 5,000m high camp. These three followed the original Japanese route, approaching the crest of the west ridge from the south.

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