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Abi (5,694m), West Face and Southwest Ridge, Shivering (Not to Summit)

Abi has been climbed several times from the southeast and southwest but had not been attempted from the west until July 2009, when He Lang and I tried from the Jiesigou Valley. The peak lies between the north end of the Shuangqiao Valley and the northeast branch of the Jiesigou, the valley immediately west of the Shuangqiao. We reached 5,500m on the southwest ridge, near the point where the rock met ice. However, it was around 2:20 p.m., cold, and we weren’t prepared for a bivouac on the glacier, so we retreated. That night our tent at 5,100m was destroyed by ice falling from the glacier tongue, so we had to bivouac after all. It rained all night, and we shivered in wet sleeping bags.

In August 2010 Li Lan, Zhao Xingzheng, and I returned, hoping to complete the route. On the 16th we took a van from Rilong to the point where the Jiesigou splits, spent a night in the village there, and next day hired a tractor to take us to the end of the mud road. From here we trekked to 4,900m, where we camped below the rocky ridge rising to the glacier.

On the 18th we left at 6:10 a.m. and before 8:30 a.m. had reached the site of the previous year’s camp at 5,100m. From there we climbed a full pitch of rock and one and a half pitches on ice, to gain the glacier. We only had one 50m half rope, so Li tied onto the end and Zhao a few meters above her. Every pitch was less than 45m, and because it was misty all day, Zhao and I could barely see each other when the rope was run out.

We climbed the glacier to the start of the ice face rising to the southwest ridge. Two and a half pitches led to the crest, where rock met ice. I led another pitch up broken slate to gain more ice. After one pitch of ice climbing we were able to walk for about two ropelengths to the junction of the southwest, southeast, and north ridges, a point we assumed must be the summit. It was 6:00 p.m., so we just took a few photos and started our descent. It was only later, when I checked the map, that I found the ridge junction was at 5,650m. If the mist had cleared, we would have seen the true summit just 100m to the north.

It had been dark for some time when we reached 5,300m and realized we had no hope of finding the right spot to rappel the glacier tongue. (The wrong spot would lead to overhanging terrain.) We had one down jacket between us and no stove but decided to bivouac. We spent two hours digging into a snow/ice crest with our axes, until there was nearly enough space for us to cram inside, with feet out in the open. We ate little, shivered a lot, and I threw up twice on Li’s down jacket. We regained our camp at 3:00 p.m. on the 19th and slept for 17 hours.

The tent leaked in continuous rain, and there was more shivering in wet sleeping bags. The obvious name for our route was Shivering, though of course we really didn’t finish it to the summit. The part we completed was 800m, IV 5.7 AI3 M2.

Yan Dongdong, China