Supported by the German Alpine Club, Matthias Bohe, Harry Kirschenhofer, Philipp Moser, Chris Romeike, and I began our journey on July 14, aiming to explore side valleys of the Panmah Glacier. The approach from Askole took four days, following the Dumordo River and Panmah Glacier to reach the high meadow of Skinmang at the junction of the Chiring Glacier and Nobande Sobande branch of the Panmah. On the 23rd we established base camp at 4,175m on the lower part of the Maedan Glacier (called South Chiring Glacier on the Japanese Miyamori map). After some steep climbing we placed a high camp at 5,130m.
On July 30, Matthias, Philipp, and Chris left high camp and climbed 3km to the head of the Maedan, then up a 100m névé slope (55°) to reach the west ridge of Peak 6,020m. They gained the crest by following avalanche-scoured terrain, then continued up the ridge over several steeper steps (65°), the biggest of which required downclimbing loose rock on the far side (UIAA II–III). Finally, they reached a big snow slope rising 200m (40°) to the final section of the north ridge. After negotiating the exposed summit crest, the team was surprised to find a black raven sitting on the highest point. The GPS recorded 35°51.074'N, 76°5.053'E, and thanks to the bird the peak was dubbed Porok Ri, which means Raven Mountain in Balti.
On August 3, Matthias, Harry, Philipp, Chris, and I left high camp at 3 a.m. to attempt Nera Peak (6,143m). Our plan was to climb up the west flank, over a steep hanging glacier to a snow basin, and from there up the steep west face to the top. Since belaying the complete climb over the hanging glacier would have proved too time-consuming, we decided to climb unroped to the left of the steepest part of the glacier tongue, via a névé slope (420m, 55°). Shortly before reaching the basin, huge crevasses blocked the way, so we roped up and bypassed them on the left. Deep snow and narrow crevasses hampered progress to the summit slopes, which involved snow and ice with steps up to 80°. Five and a half hours after leaving camp we reached the top (35°53.094'N, 76°05.171'E).
|The west face of unclimbed Chiring I (Chiring West, 6,861m Google Earth).|
The Maedan Glacier still offers attractive unclimbed peaks above 6,000m. At the southeastern end of the basin lies S1 (ca 6,024m) and S2 (ca 6,000m). Opposite Nera Peak, on the west side of the glacier, are four unclimbed rock towers resembling sharks’ teeth.
The most spectacular targets can be found in the Chiring Range, on the east side of the Chiring Glacier. Here are unclimbed peaks up to 6,861m, as well as 1,000m granite walls and faces up to 1,400m.
In 1986, T. Shigetani’s expedition attempted Karpo Go (sometimes called Karpogo Sar, Chiring, or Kezhen, 7,038m) from the Chiring Glacier but gave up after a fatal fall into a crevasse (AAJ 1987). In 1988, Tadashi Kamei’s team made an unsuccessful attempt on Chiring West from the south (a.k.a. Chiring I, 6,861m Google Earth; not to be confused with Karpo Go, which lies behind; see AAJ 1989). Japanese climbers led by Hiroshi Fujii would eventually succeed on Karpo Go, in 1994, approaching via the Shaksgam in China (AAJ 1995). It appears all the major peaks directly above the Chiring remain unclimbed.
Christof Nettekoven, DAV, Germany