American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Niuxin Shan (4,942m), Southeast Face

Asia, China, Qonglai Mountains, Sigunuang National Park

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Hiroo Kameda
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2011

Kazuyoshi Uematsu led a three-man team that made the first ascent of the southeast face of Niuxin Shan (Ox Heart mountain), the biggest rock wall on this outstanding peak above the east bank of the Shuangqiao Valley. In 2002 a five-man Japanese team led by Naoki Ohuchi attempted this mountain from the west. Three members reached easy ground after having climbed difficulties up to 5.10c. They left some pitches fixed and returned to base camp. Subsequently, heavy snowfall prevented a return to the route. The peak was climbed in 2004 by Anne and John Arran, via the north face and west ridge (AAJ 2005), attempts to reach the southeast face being foiled by impenetrable rhododendron.

We established base camp on September 11 at 4,300m in the valley and made a reconnaissance of the face. The following day Makoto Hashimoto and I left at 7 a.m. for our attempt. The leader climbed with a four-kilo sack, while the second carried seven kilos, including bivouac gear.

After an initial pitch of 5.7, we lost much time attempting our proposed second pitch, before retreating and climbing another, rather exciting line at 5.10a R. We now left sacks and climbed two enjoyable pitches (5.10b and 5.8), then rappelled 100m to collect the sacks. After a re-ascent, Hashimoto led a short pitch of 5.6 to a small bivouac site, where we spent an uncomfortable night sitting, Hashimoto with a bad headache from altitude.

Next day was fine, and after four pitches from 5.6 to 5.9 we reached the summit ridge, which was sharp and exposed. The climbing above was not difficult (three pitches of 5.6-5.7) but was often run out and a little loose. By 10 a.m. we were at the highest point. Ten rappels got us back down the wall by 2 p.m., and we returned to base camp, elated, that afternoon.

Hiroo Kameda, Mountaineering Federation of Yamanshi Prefecture, translated by Tamotsu Nakamura

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