|The First Ascent of East Kanthari (6167m).
East Kanthari (6167m) Climbing Party
Shigeru Masuyama, M.D., Ph.D.
|Expedition name:||1998-99 China-Japan East Kanthari (6167m) Expedition|
|Mountain Range:||Tibet-Qinghai Plateau(Chantan Plateau), China|
|attempt Route:||via South-East ledge to South Peak and main Peak|
|estimated standard of difficulty:|
|number of summitter,||4|
|names of summit party and date:||Main peak(6167m); Shigeru Masuyama, Noriyuki Muraguchi, Fumihiko Yamanushi, Daiki Hiroshima on January 13 1999 South Peak(6090m); Kazuya Yamada, Yuji Kanazawa on January 14, 1999|
|Major accidents||Frostbite on 2-5 fingers of both hands|
|If lost, names of the victims, cause, height and date:||no|
|special note:||the First Ascent of East Kanthari (6167m)|
|size:||male 10, female 1|
|Leaders:||Shigeru Masuyama (50)|
|Members:||Kazuya Yamada(44);Film Leader, Noriyuki Muraguchi(42);Climbing leader, Harik Muhamad(39), Shigeru Itoh(38), Yuji Kanazawa(32), Fumihiko Yamanushi(37), Daiki Hiroshima(27), Yuko Masuda(29), Noriyuki Otaishi(58), HUang Rong Fu(58)|
|Assistings:||Lieson officer; Wu Jian Sheng, Xu Shiwen|
|Reference:||to be on Air by TV Tokyo|
|Published report:||in press|
|Name:||Shigeru Masuyama, M.D., Ph. D.|
|address:||2-1-5 Kurosuna, Inageku Chiba, 263-0042 Japan|
The First Ascent of East Kanthari (6167m).
Shigeru Masuyama, M.D., Ph.D.
the first ascent
At 10:00 am of January 13th, 1999, the first attack team by S. Masuyama, N. Muraguchi, F. Yamanushi and T. Hiroshima of 1998-99 China-Japan jointed Scientific Research Expedition to Kokosiri; East Kanthari (6167m) Climbing Party managed to reach the top of the mountain under -30'C with strong wind of 20m/sec.
Besides Mr. Hedin, a legend Swedish Central Asian explorer, who made an short but sharp comment on this mountain in his unsuccessful breaking-in Tibet 100 years ago, only the brave Tibetan tribe Kampas and nomads with yak and sheep at the highest altitude in the world have blessed this mountain as a landmark of this uninhabited frozen area.
While I do not know whether we are inheritors of Mr. Hedin because the youngest member of our party revealed, "Hedin, who?", I am delighted to report our effort to open a new window to the deep end of Tibet-Qinghai plateau "Kokosiri".
"Kokosiri" is an area covering borders between Tibet, Qinghai and Shinjyan. "Kokosiri" means "a beautiful girl" or "Green fields" in Mongolian words. In contrast, it is said to imply "nomen's field" in Tibetan. Which is correct?
These area can be one of the most remote place in central Asia. It would take more than two weeks from the nearest village by jeeps or on foot if you try to reach there in summer season because of numerous small streams which originated from glaciers and became headstream of Yangtze River. In midwinter, frozen ground and lakes make it possible to access there relatively easily. That is why we are now here depite of violent cold.
From the top of the East Kanthari (6167m), we could enjoy the 360' view. In the East, the independent Shin-Qing-Hong(6860m), in the West twin towered West Kanthari, which had been named " the beacon of Kokosiri" by Mr. Hedin. When you turned your eyes to the North, you would find the keel mountains "Kunlun" which bound Tibet from Shinjyan. In the South, you could get the hole view of Kokosiri 4800m to 5000m plateau with twinkled surfaces of numerous lakes, some of which are not frozen in spite of as severe low temperature as -30'C such as Sijinuraho from where we could get a tremendous view of Mt. Kanthari.
Apart from the views of the Great Himalayas with brilliant, sharp and harmful edge of the reduplicated ledges or the Polars modified by terrifying power of shelf glacier, you might find mild landscape of the field and mountains there. But simultaneously you would feel hair raising heat power under the thick frozen ground and mildly angulated mountains.
Even in a severely cold season, we were welcome by a plenty of wild animals such as Tibetan gazels, Tibetan Antelope, Tibetan wild ass, Wild Yak and wolves, though we could not encounter twenty thousands herd of Tibetan Antelope(Chiru). You know, we are members of China-Japan jointed Scientific Research Expedition by botanists, ecologists, naturalists and medical scientists, which investigate wild beings, plants, animalsand humans in Kokosiri. Addition, touring guides are members of Western Activity Comittee(WAC) of Chita Prefecture of Qinghai Province. WAC was founded in 1992 to make research and prevent wild animals in Kokosiri, in more correct words, to control chiru poachers.
In '90, herds of chiru began to be killed by poachers because its soft, light and thin wool fascinated foreign wool agents. As long as chiru is a national protected species as well as Panda, hunting chiru has been strictly inhibited, then secret chiru poachers began to appear in the early '90 and has expanded its area in the midst of '90.
East Kanthari has only 6167m high above sea level. Altitude of surrouging Kokosiri plateau are 4800 to 5000m, then climbing this mountain might not be very difficult if you are well acclimatized. However, once you plan to try this mountain, you will find no information on this mountain other than Hedin's, because there have no people to visit here for climbing and nor visitors have come here in a severely cold season. This mountain region has been kept as a sanctuary for us climbers as well as wild animals.
It was K. Yamada, our film leader, that found beauty of this mountain. He has been producing to visualize Kokosiri, the forgotten end of Tibet-Qinghai Plateau where has been a sanctuary for Tibetan Antelope, Gazelle, wild Ass, Yak and wolves. He happened to find this Hedin legend virgin peak. Why not to challenge? He tried to reconnoitre the north face of the mountain the last year(1998). From our present point of view, the north route requires as long way of glacier and ice ledge as 10km. Too long. His photo pictures did not catch a precise view of the peak. Our concern was at the East or South face.
We got also two pictures which were taken by 1991 Chinese Scientific Research Party. Another picture we studied was one by Kyushu University's expediton. However, before starting in Japan, we could not tell from which directions these pictures were taken, nor anyone could surely confirm these pictures were really those of Mt. East Kanthari.
An unexplored mountain except by Hedin to be attacked sounds pretty, doesn't it? Just like as an early Himalayan days, every member eagered to insist his own route. Someone emphasized the crystal beauty of icefall region of the main glacier, someone insisted an importance of the security of the ledge route, and others did not stop arguing the difficult snow wall route.
January 6, 1999
Five days 800km tough jeep caravan from Golmud(2800m) finally ended at the southern foot Base Camp(5200m) of East Kanthari. Though it was crazily cold, bitterly windy and dry, Kokosiri plateau gave us a nice chance to face a bunch of wild animals such as Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan Antelope, Tibetan wild Ass, wild Yak and wolf. We, zoologists, botanists and physiologist, were members of scientific research project of this area, but from now we are mountain climbers.
January 7, 1999
At BC. Fine, -28'C. Reconnaissance of ascending glacier route by S. Masuyama, N. Muraguchi, and D. Hiroshima. East Kanthari had unexpectedly beautiful, great and long glacier originated from the south peak. Severely low temperature as -30'C seemed to assure its ice fall stability and allow us the route to the south ledge of east Kanthari through the glacier. Blue lucid ice fascinated us to choose the route.
January 8, 1999
BC. Fine, -30'C. Strong wind during daytime. Reconnaissance of glacier route to be traversed to the south-east ledge by S. Masuyama, N. Muraguchi, F. Yamanushi and D. Hiroshima. It might be possible, but it would take a log time.
Next was the north snow face to be reached to the south-East ledge. This route was seen very smart and beautiful from the lake side of Sijinuraho, 4800m surface unfrozen lake, while steep and narrow neck just below the top faded a suspicious shadow of avalanche. Reconnaissance revealed that snow on the ice of the wall was stable, though we needed to be careful of crevasses. The route was thought relatively safe.
The col of the south-east ledge was strongly windy spot, while at shadow space of the bared rocky parts we could find a calm windy tent space.
From here we could get the upper view of the main glacier, where a lot of crevasses above icefall region were identified to be avoidable if we tried to the route to the south ledge.
January 9, 1999
At BC. -29'C. Snow. In general, it could be dry in winter here in Kokosiri, though there seemed a weekly cyclic change in weather. Snow falling is not always bad weather. Cough inducing dry dust are now covered with beautiful snow. Snow makes strong wind milder, too. But, it remains cold. The temperature does not go up higher than -20'C even during daytime.
Possibilities of climbing routes via Southern Glacier, ascending or traversing the main glacier were precisely discussed among all members. The final plan decided was the shortest ledge route from the col of south-east ledge where the attack camp would be settled. From this camp we would trace south east ledge to the south peak and forward to the main peak via the south ledge.
After our ascent, we would be realized that the other routes than this shortest ledge would not allow us to reach the summit.
January 10, 1999
At BC. -31'C. Snow in the morning, fine in the afternoon. Mild wind. All needed equipment's and foods for 6 peoples to stay for three days and to attack the peak were carried by S. Masuyama, N. Muraguchi, F. Yamanushi, D. Hiroshima, K. Yamada and Y. Kanazawa to the attack camp at 5650m. Four snow bars, four ice screws, 100m rope for fixing and two main 40m ropes were brought, while technical problems seemed scared.
Serious difficulty would be raised by severe cold with strong wind. Even at BC, the lowest temperature was below -30'C. Even in daytime, lower than -20'C. We would have to expect -40'C at the top. In addition, strong wind was observed inevitable in the daytime. Because the East Kanthari stands solely in the Kokosiri plateau, daytime sunshine induced ascending airflow was accelerated here. From 11:00 to 18:00 snow smoke at the top by strong wind have been observed daily.
We have to start early in the morning despite of its severe cold.
January 11, 1999
At BC. -28'C. Fine. Resting at BC.
January 12, 1999
BC to C1. -24'C. Warm! Fine. Departure to C1 by S. Masuyama, N. Muraguchi, F. Yamanushi, D. Hiroshima, K. Yamada and Y. Kanazawa. Reflected sunshine by unfrozen lakes at Kokosiri was cristal and cold. Solely beautiful Sin Qing Hong helped us hustling to C1.
At C1, we have found nice windless space for two tents. Muraguchi and Yamanushi, after reconnaissance to the foot of the south peak, reported, "Snow is stable, but wind is bitter!"
January 13, 1999
At C1. -28'C. Fine. At 6:00, the first attack team by S. Masuyama, N. Muraguchi, F. Yamanushi, D. Hiroshima departed. Not cold. No wind as expected. Sky full of stars. Thin crescent moon.
Big China has only one clock, then here in the western area of China day-breaking time is around 9:00. We will reach the top before 11:00 when strong wind begins.
Endless wide snow ledge lead us to the south peak. Crampons fit well crusted snow on ice. But once caught by drifting snow ascending speed became slower. Moonless night. A small head lamp had not enough power to find the best route.
Just below the south peak, I felt wind on my cheek. Never expected before-break wind. Freshening up. West wind seemed to turn to east after the south peak. The temperature bacame lowered? Cap cloud were seen in the breaking sky. Shall we turn back?
The South peak at 8:00 by Masuyama and Yamanushi. Muraguchi and Hiroshima had gone ahead for films.
Making marks for descending points on the south summit.
Wind became stronger on the main ledge to the peak. Burst wind could made us off balance. Sensory feeling on the face and fingers began to disappear. If it were warm and calm, this open ledge could be one of the most beautiful climbing ledge in the world. Forwarded two were not identified, then we had no way other than to continue going forward.
At the bottom of the last steep snow wall to the top, we noticed Muraguchi and Hiroshima descending. Hiroshima seemed too cold to respond promptly. He needed to descend to a safe zone. The rest three continued to ascent the final wall.
At 10:00am, we arrived at the top, a wide snow peak, with 20m/sec strong wind. My camera, though warmed in my jacket's chest pocket, did not work. However, Muraguchi's video camera scaled Shin Qing Hong in the east, West Kanthari in the West, the Konlon mountains in the north and Kokosiri plateau in the south.
We imaged that we would enjoy the top sky and looked back upon 100 years after Hedin and 1000 years of Tibetan history at the top of the unclimbed peak. But it was for 1000 seconds that we could stay there because of cold and strong wind. They compelled us to go down, then we reached the south peak to find no wind at the main peak!
At 13:30, returning back to C1. Severe cold and strong wind injured Hiroshima's eight fingers. Distal portions of DIP joints of both 2nd to 5th fingers became frostbitten. Hiroshima was directed to go down to BC immediately by a support of Masuyama.
At BC, Masuyama will send an emergent e-mail asking for the best field first aid treatment for Hiroshima's case using satellite communication. Masuyama's friends in many countries will respond and help him, then Hiroshima's fingers will be alive.
January 14, 1999
At C1. At 7:00, the second attack team by K. Yamada and Y. Kanazawa started.
At 11:00, arriving at the south peak. Further ascent was abandoned because of stronger wind than yesterday.
C1 was evacuated by K. Yamada and Y. Kanazawa, N. Muraguchi, F. Yamanushi and S. Itoh.
All returned safe to BC at 16:00.
Good bye, East Kanthari. I am sure that new guests will visit you in the next centennial.