American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, China, Daxue Shan, Minya Konka Range, Dogonomba (5,960m), First and Second Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2011

Minya Konka Range, Dogonomba (5,960m), first and second ascents. In late autumn 2008 Aidan Loehr made the first ascent, solo, of Dogonomba, which lies on the main ridge immediately south of Reddomain. Loehr had been guiding an American Alpine Institute team on Dogonomba's east ridge. They were unsuccessful, but after the group departed he went to the other side of the mountain and climbed the west ridge. The lower section, reaching the ridge itself, proved quite difficult, with exposed 4th class climbing. Once he reached snow and ice, the route became more reasonable. Slopes of 30-40° led to the summit ridge, where he was forced to traverse 60° slopes of poor snow, below the corniced crest. He gained the tiny summit in high winds. The only previously recorded attempt on this peak was made by another AAI party in 1995.

This ascent was unknown to Tim Church (New Zealand) and Yvonne Pfluger (Austrian living in NZ), when they visited the range in May 2010. Heavy snow cover delayed access, and they first attempted 5,928m Ruiche Gongga from the north, getting within 300m of the summit. This left only a week for an attempt on Dogonomba. Spotting an obvious route up the west ridge, they established an advanced base at 4,400m among moraine debris and scrubby vegetation in a side valley south of the ridge.

The lower ridge appeared difficult, with extensive broken rock, but they spotted a snow gully rising from near the head of the side valley to easier ground on the upper, glaciated part of the ridge. They made a 12½-hour roundtrip reconnaissance from advanced base, stashing gear at a proposed high camp (5,300m) and climbing some distance up the ridge above. Next day they carried a second load to high camp and stayed the night. The following morning they made their summit bid, retracing their steps up the ridge and continuing on heavily loaded 30-40° slopes to a broad low subsummit. The ridge between the subsummit and main summit proved technical, with loose rock, a knife-edge, an exposed ridge of bullet-proof ice, and the 50-60° summit pyramid. Only Church completed the final pitch, as the weather rapidly deteriorated to snowfall and high winds. White-out conditions accompanied the return to high camp, where they spent the night before descending to base camp next day. They note that south of their summit, between it and Daddomain (6,380m), stands the unclimbed Peak 5,962m, possibly called Sequinomba.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, from material provided by Tamotsu Nakamura and Yvonne Pfluger

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