JAPAN CHINA JOINT EXPEDITION
TO NAMCHA BARWA
1992

Tsuneo Shigehiro

 

OBJECTIVE OF THE EXPEDITION

1. To reach the summit of the world's highest unclimbed mountain, Namcha Barwa.

2. To develop the close relationship with China and improve climbing skill through cooperative activities between Chinese and Japanese climbers

3. To celebrate the 20 th anniversary of the diplomatic relation between Japan and China

 

CLIMBING PLAN

Route: South wall route via Mt. Naipun

Period: From Sep.15, 1992 to Nov. 6, 1992

Climbing Method: Non-oxygen polar method

 

OVERVIEW OF EXPEDITION

 Namcha Barwa is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, located 29 37' 51'' north latitude and 95 3' 31'' east latitude in the east end of the Himalayas.

 There are two large and long ridges in W.N.W. and E.N.E. of the highest peak, respectively as well as a steep ridge on the south face, leading to Mt. Naipun (7,043 m). The height of the col. between the highest peak and Mt. Naipun is 200 m and the inclination of the col is 80.

The expedition established a base camp at an altitude of 3,520 m in the S.E. side of the Namcha Barwa, in the nomadic area near the village, called Jiedi Dangga". They entered into the valley on the right and then established C 1 (4,350 m), after passing the virgin forest. They further proceeded on the way along the valley to reach C 2 (4,800 m). Subsequently, the expedition entered into the glacier, choosing a route in the S.S.W. ridge, and then constructed C 3 after climbing 350 m of the rocky ridge. C 4 was established on the snow ridge, leading to Mt. Naipun, C 5 (6,900 m) was established right below Mt. Naipun, and the final camp (6,700 m) was established on the bottom of the col between Mt. Naipun and the highest peak. After departing the col, the expedition found a route on the snow ice wall on the right of the col, and passed rock band in an altitude of 7,350-7,450 m. The attack members passed the bad-conditioned ice-snow wall, and finally reached the summit of Mt. Namcha Barwa.

 

MEMBERS OF THE EXPEDITION

JAPANESE MEMBERS

Expedition LeaderTsuneo Shigehiro (Age 45)

Climbing LeaderKazuo Yamamoto (Age 46)

Climbing Member (Corespondent and Tactics)Touichiro Mitani (Age 36)

Climbing Member (Food)Hiroshi Aota (Age 34)

Climbing Member (Food)Atsushi Yamamoto (Age 30)

Climging Member (Equipment)Masamori Sato (Age 29)

Weater ObservationHajime Iida (Age 37)

Manager/TranslatorMasato Kajita (Age 31)

DoctorAkira Kojima (Age 31)

CHINESE MEMBERS

Team LeaderSanz zhu (Age 36)

Climbing MemberJiau (Age 34)

Climbing MemberCirenduoji (Age 36)

Climging MemberBianba zaxi (Age 28)

Climbing MemberDa Qimi (Age 36)

Climbing MemberDa Qiong (Age 31)

 

CHRONOLOGY OF THE EXPEDITION

1990

Nov.15-Dec.15The Japanese and Chinese joint reconnoitering party reached Mt. Naipun (6,900 m), and confirmed a route to Namcha Barwa.

Nov.25-26Scouted the area from the sky by small jet aircraft.

1991

May 1The Japan and China expedition performed signing ceremony.

Sep.24The Japanese team arrived at Lasa, and met Chinese members.

Sep.30BC was established.

Oct.16Hiroshi Onishi, a Japanese climbing member was killed by the avalanche, on the way to the planned C 4 construction point.

Oct.11The attack members were appointed.

Oct.20The first attempt to reach the summit failed because of a snowfall.

Oct.22The second attempt also failed because of a snow flow.

Oct.24Decided to retire.

1992

Mar.7The re-attempt to climb Namcha Barwa by the Japan and China expedition was decided.

Sep.2The Japanese members left for China.

Sep.6The Japanese members met Chinese members in Lasa.

Sep.14Opening ceremony for BC was performed.

 

Sep.15C 1 was constructed at an altitude of 4,350 m.

Sep.16C 2 was established at an altitude of 5,600 m.

Sep.23C 3 was established at an altitude of 5,600 m.

Sep.30C 4 was constructed at an altitude of 6,200 m.

Oct.1A route to C 5 was developed.

Oct.9The 6 first attack members departed C 3, aiming to reach the summit on Oct.15.

Oct.11The first attack members constructed C 5 at an altitude of 6,900 m.

Oct.13Due to bad weather conditions, the target date for reaching the summit was postponed to Oct.17.

Oct.15Due to bad weather conditions, the attack members climbed down to C 3.

Oct.17The attack tactics was reconsidered, aiming to reach the summit on Oct.23.

Oct.18The first-attack members entered into C 4, and re-started the attempt to reach the summit.

Oct.19The attack members stayed in C 4 because of a snowfall.

Oct.21Due to the sustained bad weather, the attack members went back to C 2.

Oct.22The target day for reaching the summit was changed to Oct.29.

Oct.24The first-attack members climbed to C 3.

Oct.25C 4 was re-construced.

Oct.26C 5 was re-constructed.

Oct.27C 6, a base camp for the attack was constructed.

Oct.28A route was extended to the point at an altitude of 7,200 m, for the preparation of the attack.

Oct.29Passed rocky bank, and stayed at an altitude of 7,600 m.

Oct.30The 11 first and second attack members succeeded in reaching the summit.

Nov.7Left B.C.

Nov.17The celebration ceremony was held in the Great Public Hall in Beijing.

Nov.18Returned to Japan.

Nov.19The 11 climging members were awarded by the Mnister of Education, as an honor of sports.

Nov.27The celebration party was held, inviting 13 representative of the Chinese team, at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

 

RECORD OF THE CLIMBING OF NAMCHA BARWA

1. Failure in 1991

 When scouting in Dec. 1990, it took only 8 days to reach the end of the ridge at an altitude of 6,900 m. However, they suffered unexpectedly deep snow in 1991. On Oct. 16, Mr. Onishi who led the party, was killed by the avalanche on the route which was the only passable way.

 The progress after the accident was very slow, because of strong wind post monsoon in the end of October. Despite the difficult conditions, the climbing members still had strong willingness, and gradually approached to the summit. However, on Nov. 22, after passing the toughest part of the rock bank, the attack members faced strong snow shower, caused by the winds beyond the summit. On Nov. 24, because of lack of food and equipment and exhausting conditions of the climbing members, the expedition decided to retire.

2. Tactics in 1992

 The reason for the failure in 1991 was the delay of the commencement of climbing. The research and survey concluded that there is the highest chance of the success during the 4-5 days in the middles of October. Based on that, the following action plan was arranged

1. The departure was advanced to complete carrying equipment to C 2 by the middle of September.

2. The climbing period was split into three terms; construction of B.C., C 1, C 2 and a route to C 3, and carrying food and equipment to C 3 in the first term; construction of C 3, C 4 and a route to C 5 and carrying food and equipment to C 5 in the second term; construction of C 5 and a route to C 6 and a route to rock band. The attack to reach the summit in the third term.

3. Delivery and distribution of goods are to be handled under the strict control of the six cooperative members for the task in the high altitudes.

4. The expedition consists of two terms, with each team holding three members, totaling six members. The distance of these two teams is to be kept one camp.

5. One of the major reasons for failure in 1991 was that they could not adequately catch the changing conditions of the weather. Based on that, an expert of the weather observation was added to the staff.

3. Reasons for the success in 1992 :

 Relatively stable weather conditions helped the expedition members extend the route, according to the plan. However, the climbing members were forced to postpone the attack to the summit twice, influenced by passing cyclone after Oct. 9. Fortunately, the winds were weaker than last year, even post Monsoon. Through the meteorological satellite, called Noa", the expedition could access to the information provided by the Japan Meteorological Association.

 Helped by the supports of high altitudes cooperative members, goods were carried properly to each camp, so that the attack members could stay in the camps in the unexpected bad weather.

 When they constructed a route to rock band and climbed the summit, the attack members were prepared to stay in the small tent, to save the time to go back to C 5. More importantly, strong willingness; of both Japanese and Chinese expedition members enabled themselves to turn up the C 5 buried 2 m below snow and stay over the night at the point of an altitude of 7,600 m, and finally made all 6 attack members succeed in reaching the summit.

4. Final Comment

 When we went scouting and made a reconnaissance by a small jet airplane, the mountain was covered with so much snow, and the routes seemed not so technically difficult to climb. Although we are conscious of the volatile weather conditions, we regret Mr. Onishi's death from the bottom of our heart caused by our misjudgment of the conditions. The climbers strong will is necessary to promote the team's activities, this, however, could increase possibility of an accident, if we are not careful enough.

 The lasting physical strength and will, and good weather raises possibility of the success in reaching the summit. Therefore, it is not too much to say that I, as the leader of the expedition, devoted myself to helping the climbing members maintain the willingness to reach the summit and secure their safety.

 Three years sounded to pass so soon from the reconnaissance in 1990, the expedition in 1991, and rechallenge in 1992. However, if I try to remember each event, one by one, I feel that it was such a long way to reach the goal.

 Since we could make many members the summiters, many people could think it was easy to climb Namcha Barwa. However, because of the different environment, the Japanese members tended to have heavier burden in the preparation, so that the integral strategies were required.