Expedition Reports 2011

11/01 – British Far West Nepal 2011

Julian Freeman-Attwood with Nick Colton and Ed Douglas (April May 2011)

The mountains of West Nepal are far less frequented than the rest of the country, but during visits in 2007 and 2009, Freeman-Attwood made a number of first ascents which alerted him to the tremendous scope of the area for true exploration. On this third visit, to an unexplored valley in the Changla Himal (even further west), he hoped to make the first ascent of Gave Ding (6571m). There appeared to be two possible routes to the summit, either the West Ridge to a fine rock spire, or the South Ridge to the East Peak. They attempted the second of these, reaching 5900m before realising that the summit ridge was much longer than had previously been thought giving them no chance of reaching the summit before nightfall – particularly as the weather was increasingly threatening – so an abseil retreat was undertaken. There followed a period of extensive snowfall, so the team had no chance of making another attempt.

The leader reports that as part of a Nepalese government drive to encourage more visitors, the area remains free of peak and trekking fees for the 2012 and 2013 climbing seasons.

11/04 – Mulu Caves 2011 (Malaysia)

Tim Allen with Jane Allen, Sam Allshorn, Mark Brown, Kevin Dixon, Andy Eavis, Pete Hall, Matt Kirby, Ian Lawton, Liz Lawton, Dr Gina Moseley, John Palmer, Mark Richardson, Robbie Shone, Meg Stark, Hugh St Lawrence, Richard Walters and Mark Wright (February-March 2011)

Despite 18 previous ‘Mulu Caves’ expeditions to the Gunnung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, apparently there still remains plenty of work to explore and map the extensive cave system. With the advantage of new technology, this team undertook some ambitious technical objectives, including a 3D laser scan & panoramic photography in the enormous Sarawak Chamber, plus radio location and exploration of new passages. All the major objectives were successfully achieved, and although full analysis of the results will take some time, the team surveyed more than 15 km of ‘new’ passage of which about 13 km were in Whiterock Cave. Total lengths are now Whiterock 80.4 km and Clearwater 189.1 km, making the latter the world’s eighth longest system.

11/05 – Shan Plateau 2011 (Myanmar)

Ms Imogen Furlong with Chris Densham, Fleur Loveridge, Phil Rowsell & Pete Talling from UK plus Joerg Dreybodt from Germany (January-February 2011).

Although much of Myanmar (formerly Burma) is closed to foreigners, this party of cavers managed to obtain permission for a return visit to the Hopong region (east of Taungyyi) not only from the local authorities, but also from the local monasteries. On their reconnaissance trip in 2010 they found 25 cave entrances and explored 10, surveying 3.5 km of passage. On this trip they logged 37 new entrances, and explored 11 (9 in the Hoppong area and 2 in Kutcai) mapping a total of 4.78km of passage. However, there is still plenty of scope for future visits.

11/06 – Zhongdian 2010 (China)

Dr Hilary Greaves with Philip Rowsell & Mark Smith plus Timothy Bond in support (December 2010-January 2011).

The leader of this team of cave divers had visited the Zhongdian mountains of Yunnan on several previous occasions, but this time hoped that by diving resurgences in the Yangtse valley they might be able to find a way into the large cave system which must exist. For once logistical arrangements went smoothly, and they were ready to dive within five days of leaving UK. All four resurgences were explored, but all were left at underfwater limits of exploration. The most notable success was in Hei Shui Dong (Black Water Cave) in which they explored some 200m of new passage, including two sumps. Progress beyond a third sump was stopped due to lack of time and manpower, but no doubt a return trip is already being planned.

11/08 – British Mount Hayes (USA)

Guy Wilson with Chris Johnson and Neil Warren (April-May 2011)

ZThis team hoped to make the first ascent of the west ridge of Mount Hayes (4216m), the highest peak in the remote Eastern Alaska Range. However, when they arrived in the area and discussed their plans with local climbers, they learned that although not generally reported, the ridge had actually been climbed in the 1970s. Apparently this situation is not atypical of the region, where a number of first ascents by local climbers have gone unreported, allowing subsequent parties the pleasure of making ‘second first ascents’. The British team decided to stick with its plan but due to unseasonable snowfall they were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, they climbed two neighbouring mountains, firstly Skarland (3145m), which they climbed by its South East Ridge – the second ascent of the peak. Though not steep, it proved precarious due to poor snow. The trio had hoped to ski from the summit but at 2800m they met hard ice so left their skis at this point and climbed to the top. Subsequently, the ski descent from 2800m was superb. With time running out, Warren and Wilson turned their attention to Mount Geist (3085m), and in a 22 hour round trip made what was possibly the first ascent of a new direct route up the 1000m North East Face, descending by the North Ridge. The overall grade of the ascent was considered to be TD+.

11/09 – NZ Solu Khumbu Alpine-Style

Ben Dare with Steven Fortune and Mike Rowe (March-May 2011)

The prime objectives of this team were to climb new routes on the NE Face of Kyajo Ri (6186m) and the SW Face of Kusum Kanguru (6367m), both designated as ‘Trekking Peaks’, and hence subject to reduced peak fees. Initially, they tried to climb Kyajo Ri via its SW Ridge but they abandoned at 6000m due to poor snow conditions and injury to Dare, who was struck on the hand by falling ice. With Dare safely evacuated to BC, the remaining pair then attempted the NE Ridge, on which they reached 5700m before avalanche risk made further progress extremely hazardous. Moving to Kusum Kanguru, they found that the SW Face was bare and almost devoid of snow and ice, but a sustained snowfall soon changed that, and in fact forced them to abandon their attempt due to the unseasonal weather and high level of avalanche activity. However, they did manage to climb a (probable new) route up the far left of the face to the NW Ridge below the West Peak. This provided 1000m of slow mixed climbing up to an approximate grade of M5. In view of the snow conditions, they did not attempt to continue up and over the West Peak to the Central summit.

11/11 – British Kyashar 2011

Andy Houseman and Nick Bullock (April-May 2011)

Kyashar (6769m) – previously known as Peak 43 – lies above the village of Tangnag in the Hinku Valley, and its summit was first reached in 2003 via the West Ridge and Face. In 2010, Houseman attempted the 1800m South Pillar with Tony Stone, reaching a snow ridge at 5700m (about the same point as two earlier Czech teams) where they abandoned the climb because Stone was suffering from the altitude. On this return trip the weather was unsettled, with so much snow that they did not even attempt the Pillar, but attempted a new route on the easier West Ridge. They climbed a rock buttress at 5800m, but above that the climbing was ‘sketchy’ on very poor rock, so the attempt was curtailed at 6000m.

This expedition received the Nick Estcourt Award for 2011

11/12 – British Yukon 2011 (Canada)

Glenn Wilks with Jonathon Wakefield (May-June 2011)

This 2-man team was making a return visit to the Yukon with the hope of exploring and making first ascents of peaks of 3000m to 4000m close to the confluence of the Walsh and Denis Glaciers. Unfortunately, they struck a period of extremely bad weather, making it impossible for the ski plane to land in the chosen area. They therefore decided to relocate to a spur of the Stairway Glacier which they had visited in 2009, in the hope that conditions would be more reasonable. Unfortunately they weren’t and although they did manage to make the (probable) first ascent of Peak 3450m, they also spent several days confined to camp, before calling for early evacuation

11/14 – KCLAMC: Sarychat/Fersmana 2011 (Kyrgyzstan)

Gareth Mottram with Charlie Evans and Edward Lemon plus Hannes Granberg from Sweden (July-August 2011)

This was a follow-up to an expedition in 2009 [reference 09/27 ] which was dropped off 25km short of the intended spot in the central part of the Western Kokshaal-too., and thus forced to waste valuable time (and weather) ferrying gear, subsequently only managing two days climbing in a month.. Not put off by this, they returned in 2011 determined to explore and make some first ascents. Their principle objective was a fine snow pyramid, Fersmana III (5,210m) at the head of the Sarychat Glacier. After acclimatising with an attempt on Sentinel Peak via a gully on the east flank of Pik Lyell (4,864m), they split into two pairs to follow different lines on Fers III, Granberg & Mottram climbing a continuous icy ramp to the main ridge, while Evans & Lemon hugged the rock further right. Both routes then crossed the final rock band on the summit ridge by mixed chimneys at AI4 and M5. Both pairs then followed the same line up the final 300m; snow steepening to 55/60°, passing the summit sérac on the left and descended their lines, regaining camp 28 hours after leaving. Both routes were c.1200m in length and provisionally graded ED1.due to high altitude technical difficulties with significant risk of avalanche and rockfall. They decided to rename the peak Eggmendüluük, a Kyrkyz word meaning Independence. Before leaving the area, Granberg and Mottram also climbed scree gullies and a ridge in poor condition to reach two adjacent tops above base camp; Pik 4631m and Pik 4685m, which they named Pik Georgina and Pik Annika respectively.

11/16 – FIDS Cordillera Oriental (Peru)

Matt Balmer with with Dan Fitzgerald and James Wake (May-June 2011)

Although first climbed in 1957, Huaguruncho Chico (c.5300m) apparently still awaits a second ascent, so this team hoped to achieve that by completing a route on its South Face previously attempted by Barton and Houseman in 2006. On this, they reached approximately 5150m before being forced to retreat by poor weather and dangerous snow conditions. However, the expedition did record some success, as during the acclimatisation phase they climbed a new route on the South Face of Hurancayo Sur (c.5100m). The route, which they have called ‘Boys don’t cry’ (350m, Scottish V, 4) gave them the second ascent of the peak, but was followed by an epic descent in thick cloud and failing light that forced an unplanned snowhole bivouac 50m below the summit.

11/17 – Kyrgyz Djangart 2011 (Kyrgyzstan)

Richard Tremellen with Alex Brighton (July-August 2011)

The Djangart region is a sub-range of the Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan, midway between Inylchek Glacier and the Western Kokshaal-Too, and has a number of unclimbed peaks c 5000m. This team hoped to climb a number of these, including the highest – Pt. 5318m. Their planned to hire mules to carry their gear over the 4200m Djangart Pass did not work out, so they established a base camp in the Kaichi Valley, considerably increasing the length and complexity of walk-ins to their chosen peaks. An attempt on Peak 5318m was abandoned at 4750m due to avalanche conditions, but the pair succeeded in making the first ascents of Pt 4765m (1200m AD) and Pt 4950m (‘The Phoenix’, 1200m, AD), for which they have proposed the names Peak Emma & Peak Laetitia respectively

11/18 – Tajikistan & Afghanistan First Ascents

Ms Becky Coles with James Kitson (also Mark Redhead in Tajikistan only) (July-September 2011)

Strictly speaking, this was two expeditions running back to back. The first part was in Tajikistan, where the team hoped to make the first ascent of the last unclimbed 6000m peak in the little visited Muzkol Range of the SE Pamirs. Unfortunately high winds delayed their summit attempt, and then snow conditions prevented them getting above a col at 5500m. Although some bad weather was experienced in Afghanistan, conditions soon improved, and they were able to achieve their aim of exploring the Raig Jurm valley in the Wakhan Corridor, including reaching a 5730m summit right on the border with Pakistan. They assumed that this was a first ascent, and named it ‘Raven Peak’, but subsequent investigations suggest that the peak had previously been climbed by an Italian team in 1972, who had named it Koh-e-Sauze.

11/19 – British Mugu 2011

Mick Fowler with Graham Desroy, Jonny Ratcliffe & Dave Turnbull (October 2011)

The main objective of this very strong team was an unclimbed peak in the province of Mugu in Far West Nepal, marked on maps as Mugu Chulu (6310m). Although the area had previously been visited by climbers from Spain and Japan, none of the 6000m summits had ever been summited. On arrival in the extremely remote Kojichuwa Valley below its West Face, they discovered that the peak was known locally as ‘Gojung’. Over a period of 4 days, Fowler and Turnbull climbed the West Face (at a grade of ED) to the summit, taking another 3 days to traverse the frontier ridge over Pt 6246m and descend by abseil and complex glacial terrain from the foot of the south ridge of Kojichula Chuli. Meanwhile Desroy and Ratcliffe made the (probable) first ascent of an unnamed 5800m peak on the Nepal/Tibet border to the west of the Kojichuwa La, which gave them fine views of Tibet and Kojichuwa Chuli.

11/20 – Glacier Bay Climbing 2011 (USA)

Dr Paul Knott with Vaughan Snowdon (from NZ) (April-May 2011)

Mount Orville (3199m) is a fine looking peak rising from the Johns Hopkins Glacier, and although it was once climbed from the south, the climbers who made the ascent were killed while descending. This team hoped to make the first ascent of the NE Spur-N Ridge, which rises 2800m in a distance of 8 km. They were dropped by ski-plane into deep powder snow at c.1200m on the West shoulder of Mt Abbe (2667m), which gave them easy access to the 8 km ridge. On the fourth day of their attempt, they reached a fore-summit at c.2460m which gave them a fine view of the upper mountain, but from here the route appeared to be extremely serious – rocky on both sides, with a very exposed cornice-encrusted knife-edge arête. With a weather front approaching, they decided to call it a day, and reversed the terrain climbed so far. Later, they attempted an unclimbed 2257m snow summit south of Mt Abbe, approaching from the NW, and reaching a fore-peak at c.2280m. Further progress would have entailed a steep drop off and the ascent of a steep couloir covered in unstable powder snow, so they elected to retreat, escaping the region by ski-plane just ahead of a forecast storm.

11/21 – Aberystwyth University Kamchatka (Russia)

Colin Souness and Henry Patton (August-September 2011)

The Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia boasts 160 volcanoes, of which 29 are still active. Photographs of an ash covered glacier near to one of these – Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4721m) – show an incredible similarity to high resolution satellite

>11/22 – NZ Women’s Wakhan Corridor (Afghanistan)

Ms Pat Deavoll with Ms Chris Byrch (July-August 2011)

Koh-e-Baba-Tangi (aka Jade Peak, 6516m) is the highest point in the eastern sector of the Afghan Hindu Kush, and was first climbed in 1963 by an Italian team via its West Ridge: all subsequent attempts have failed to reach the summit. In his guidebook ‘Peaks of Silver and Jade’, Pinelli commented that the North West Ridge ‘seems to be particularly attractive……a varied and hard route but probably not too dangerous, alternating sections of rock, mixed and ice’. This was therefore the route chosen by the two New Zealand sisters. Difficult terrain around base camp meant that attempts to acclimatise were limited to spending a couple of nights at a col c5200m. Once on the route itself Deavoll led the steeper pitches with the less experienced Byrch following – sometimes using Jumars. In this way they established camps at 5000m and 6000m and reached the summit on the fifth day. To give a more aesthetic end to the climb, they decided to traverse the mountain and descend by its West Ridge, surprised to find traces of the first ascent nearly half a century ago.

11/23 – Foraker/Lacuna 2011 (USA)

Graham Zimmerman (NZ/US) with Mark Allen (US) (May 2011)

This team planned an exploratory climbing trip in the Central Alaska Range. From the Kahiltna Base Camp, they skied 27 km up the previously unexplored North West Fork of the Lacuna Glacier (south of Foraker) and settled for an attempt on an unclimbed top marked as Peak 12,213 (3,723m), south of The Fin. Their first attempt was via its SE Ridge, but after climbing of M5 and AI2, and reaching a point c750m up, they were forced to retreat due to storm conditions. After a return to Kahiltna and an ascent of the West Ridge of Mt Hunter (4441m) they renewed their assault on Peak 12,213, this time via the South Buttress, left of the previously attempted ridge. This time they were more successful, climbing the buttress and couloir above (M6 A1 AI2) to join the SE Ridge about 1,000m above its base. But once more bad weather forced a retreat. Their third attempt was via a more direct line up a couloir in the centre of the South Face. With more amenable snow and ice conditions they reached their previous high point in just five hours continuing up a corniced crest to the summit, and regained their camp after a 20-hour round trip. They have name the route ‘To the Center’ (1,370m: AI2 and cornices), and the summit ‘Voyager Peak’ after a NASA satellite.

11/24 – British Cordillera Carabaya (Peru)

Tom Ripley with Hamish Dunn (August-September 2011)

The Cordillera Carabaya range lies in Southern Peru and is remote and rarely visited, so offered a good opportunity for exploration and first ascents. Unfortunately, when this pair arrived at the nearest town, they could not find anyone who understood where they wanted to go. Eventually they met an English-speaking catholic priest, who kindly drove them to the roadhead and arranged two donkeys for the approach to base camp. Although they had planned to acclimatise on lower peaks before tackling their prime objective, after being snowed in for a few days, they decided to ‘get on with it’. and set out to climb the 600m South Face of Chichicapac, at 5614m the second highest summit in the range. The obvious line was threatened by séracs, so they climbed a direct route up the centre, until forced left at the headwall. After 10 hours on the face, they reached the summit in early evening and then made a rapid descent of the West Ridge. Difficulties were sustained at Scottish 4/5, with two crux pitches of 6, and they gave the route an overall grade of TD. Although there are few unclimbed peaks in the area, the team felt that there were plenty of unclimbed technical routes awaiting first ascents.

11/25 – Lunag Massif 2011

Steve Holmes with Neil Phillips plus Matt Welborn as Base Camp Manager (September-November 2011)

The first ascent of Jobo Rinjang (6778m) by US climbers Gottlieb & Puryear in 2009 inspired these outdoor instructors to explore the Lunag mountain range further with the hope of making first ascents and traverses of other peaks in the area. Although part

This expedition also received a Mark Clifford Award.

>11/26 – British British Columbia 2011 (Canada)

Adrian Dye with Dr Neil Mackenzie, Aengus Mccullough & Kenneth Wright (August 2011)

Sittakanay Peak (2415m) was chosen as the objective of this team, as according to the Canadian Mountain Encyclopaedia it was unclimbed. This team felt that the most promising route would be via the SE Ridge, although there are several other possibilities. Unfortunately, the Juneau region experienced the worst summer weather in years, with high winds and rainfall records for August being broken, resulting in widespread flooding. Although they had little chance to venture very high, they managed to carry out a thorough reconnaissance of the area, taking plenty of digital images which will prove invaluable to future visitors.

11/27 – British Eren Habirga (China)

John Town with Ms Iwonna Hudowaka, Tadeusz Hudowski, Jerry Lovatt and Richard Wojtaszewski (August-September 2011)

The Eren Habirga and Borohoru mountains form a heavily glaciated part of the Tien Shan, and stretch c.480km NW from near Urumchi to the Kazakhstan border. They contain more than 20 attractive peaks over 5000m and several hundred over 4000m, only one of which is known to have been climbed. The leader of this team had made a reconnaissance of the eastern area in 2010, and returned to set up a base camp at Ak-Tash, which he hoped would give access to about 10 unclimbed peaks with a wide range of difficulty. Unfortunately, the weather ‘put on a mercurial performance of bewildering variations in visibility and temperature’ and although several peaks were attempted, no summits were reached.

Note: Ms Iwonna Hudowska was awarded the Alison Chadwick Memorial Grant for 2011.

11/28 – Imperial College Raru Valley

Jonathan Moodie with Jonathan Bull, Robin Jones, Kunal Masania, Joe Prinold, Virgil Scott and Dominic Southgate (August-September 2011)

The side valley of the Raru in the Zanskar region is little explored, but reputed to have 35 unclimbed peaks between 5600m and 6300m. The team’s first objective was Lama Jimsa Kangri whose summit (at which they recorded a height of 6276m) was reached by two different routes, but they were disappointed to find a cairn and other evidence of a previous ascent, probably from the North. An attempt on an unnamed 5700m peak on the south side of the valley was abandoned ar 5570m due to difficulties and fatigue. In all they attempted seven routes, (including three first ascents) and reached 4 summits.