The way turned out much shorter then we were told: two days horse riding. We imagined a long journey… Really, it took only 7 hours from Chengdu (a small town with population of 11 million) to Moxy.
Moxy will soon become a provincial center with hotels, a village transformed into a town. Ñosy small old streets of Chinese blocks are gradually being destroyed. Not far from the tourist center sanatoriums with thermal springs are being built. Tourism is mainly reckoned on the Chinese, not foreigners. Office staffs arrive here group by group, build roads everywhere, in a word, tourism is being developed.
Locals told us that we would ride horses two for days, but it turned to be only three hours.
They said: «Your Base Camp is here» and left us, waving hands to the north, “Your mountain is somewhere there”.
It is said that the Japanese and the Koreans have been here. The Japanese ascended 10 years ago from the Svaloo Valley Gorge.
Excellent vertical walls like Trango, with cornices, though overgrown because of humidity, tower near the road. There are dozens of walls like Slesovo. They are 5,100-5,200 m, with height of the wall about a kilometer, located in 5m distance from the road.
And it is no information. Locals aren’t interested in them, foreigners are very few in number.
Locals know the word Edgar, they have heard about the Koreans and wave hand to the definite direction. They had left alpinists here, and climbers ascended.
The ascent report appeared after our descent. We hoped that the mountain was virgin.
Edgar is the only mountain which is known. It is 6,600 m high, it is said that in certain season it is seen from the valley.
In contrast to other mountains, this one has several walls interesting for climbers.
Next day we went for a walk in the rain, with restricted view and clouds.
With light luggage we went to the gorge which locals pointed us. In four hours we gained almost a kilometer height. Visibility was low, and stones were falling down. We ascended the narrow gorge without any path until we faced an icy wall. We went away empty-handed.
Next day it was so rainy that we didn’t want to go out of the tent. We stayed there one more day.
On the first day the sun emerged from the clouds several times, but these two days it didn't. We tried to make telephone call but nobody heard us. So we were making plans, talking… On the third day a depression began, it was no sense in sitting there any more. It was clear that the weather was bad and our phones were searching for the network. We reassured ourselves that the gorge had very steep slopes and that’s why our phone didn’t work, but when we would reach the summit, this situation will improve. We decided to treat ourselves for the depression and to make a 3-4 day trip to our right for acclimatizing. There were no walls on the map. The weather was bad. We saw a slope. We woke up in the morning and saw a face hanging in the air.
All day long it was misty. In mist we found a rockfall slope on the right and climbed there. We stopped for the night. At night it was snow, and next morning the sky was clear. We were shocked: a huge bastion was hanging in the air. In the morning the sun lighted up one of its sides. It seemed that the upper part completely overhung. We were amazed. Other walls were opening on the right and on the left, but they didn’t surprise so much.
We thought that the line was so beautiful that if someone would come and see it, he would climb, it was impossible to be missed. After breakfast we started ascent. We reached c5,000m by vertical moraine and stones, faced a difficult ridge where rope was needed, made a ledge and stayed for night.
In the night the snow began falling and we saw the upper clouds above 6,000m altitude and the lower clouds in gorges. The lower ones were moving from 4,000m to 5,000m, but the lower cloudiness was constant. We assumed that higher it can be some clear space. We couldn’t be sitting and waiting forever.
We tried to start up our magic telephone, it was searching network, but didn't find it. Two kilometers that we had ascended didn't matter. Maybe, the opposite mountains are high and when we’ll ascend a bit higher, the phone can connect the communication satellite? We returned to our Base Camp. The Base Camp consisted of two tents plus a base one, situated on a green glade almost near the road, with a streamlet. It was cosy.
And we came down searching Internet connection. We understood that our telephone won’t work, and information had to be given. We descended to the hotel called “Young Melon ” where we found the only person in the area who knew English a little. But people there are so different that even if you awfully gesticulate, they hardly understand what you want. Next day we tried again.
We decided to start anyway. We sorted out our hardware. By the way, it was very good, light and had good protection. Food was calculated for a week. While we were climbing the mountain that we saw in rays of light, the time went very quickly. We hadn’t yet seen out aim - Mt Edgarà.
We decided that it had no sense to make reconnaissance in the gorge and to waste our time because we had a worthy target, which was very beautiful. So, one day for packing and then start.
We consulted the map trying to find out what mountain it was. According to our estimate it wasn’t lower than 6,000m. Its altitude was 6,200m, and height of the wall was at least a kilometer.
No connection (but we fetched our phone all the same), no observers. A cook and a translator didn’t know what mountain we were climbing. No porters. We loaded like donkeys – gear for different kinds of terrain, warm clothes.
That’s all. We climbed the summit and I don’t remember anything else.
It turned out that we were so strong that 90% of our climbing was free. The wall overhangs a bit, but terrain is good, with holds. Aid was used only in several places with poor terrain and rockfall danger, without any chipped holds.
We used everything from large camalots to copperheads.
The route was named Carte Blanche, and we liked it very much, may be because almost all the route was free climbed. During the first days it was rather unusually to free climb on the vertical face. Then we got accustomed. As for the rocks, they had lots of rock crystal and garnet disseminations, bright, red, it seemed that one can pick them out.
* * *
We had two sitting nights. From below we had seen snowy areas, but they weren’t there when we came. Maybe, they melted or were flown away by wind. There were two lying or half lying areas. We couldn’t make a really lying one because sometimes it was too short and one’s feet were out of it, or too long and narrow, and we had to sleep holding not to fall down. It was difficult to spend two hours every day to place tent, but bivouacs would be too cold. If we could know the future… Lots of our gear wasn’t used. We had estimated to climb slabs, but we used no sky hooks, no bolts. Warm clothes weren’t used too. While climbing it is hot, and in the tent it isn’t needed too. We carried ice gear all the way, but it was needed only on the descent. We had three or four mixed pitches. We assumed that the wall could be difficult, so we carried more gas, food. If our sacks would be lighter, we could climb faster. But it was no connection, no observers, and we tried to do everything to survive, because nobody could rescue us.
Free climbing grade 6ñ (oblig)
Height of the wall 1,100m
Steepness of the route 95º
Ascent from the beginning of the route – 5 days, approach – nearly 12 hours, start on midday 8.05.09,
May 13, 13.00 - summit, five full days.
Descent – nearly 24 hours from early morning to late evening, 23 rappels.
Rappelling down the wall, we guessed it was a hanging glacier below, but the it were canyons and moraine – so, we had a long walk during that descent.
* * *
The route can be divided into 2 sections: a lower foot and a bastion. The lower foot contains13,5 pitches, the upper section includes 11 pitches. The bastion overhangs.
It was mixed terrain on the lower foot. Just after start we climbed the cornice, then we had one and a half pitches of ice and rock section 70-75º, four pitches of good free climbable rocks with little Aid (about 5 meters). Four mixed pitches on the icy rock and two rock climbing pitches.
We planned to start the route with icy gullies, but the sun emerged and it began falling from the vertical wall. We were driven to the buttress and then continued climbing.
We climbed the bastion via the line dividing two walls, on South-West buttress. Almost everywhere we climbed via the border between south and west exposure.
South walls have splits and large cornices with moving blocks. West section is sloping a bit, with slabs, boulges. Good terrain appears just between the nail walls and rotten rocks.
The bastion gives difficult vertical climbing. It is almost the same, with no super-sections and no easy ones. We summited without a roof, just from the vertical bastion.
The most difficult thing was the approach. During four days we were searching it with heavy loads. It seemed like playing hide-and-seek with the mountain: it appears in the clouds for a second and then disappears again.
We could hardly find the way through moraine and rockslides and moved 100 m, then sat and waited.
The mountain was a real pleasure after such approach. Climbing is nice, Aid isn’t needed, our climbing shoes proved very useful, it would be hard to climb in boots. But our loads were heavy and we had no connection and no observers, so we were worried about those who were waiting for connection. But it doesn’t have sense not to climb because of poor connection.
In a word, we saw a mountain and climbed it. We don’t know what Edgar is, but we climbed a very beautiful mountain. Later we knew that the Koreans had already climbed Edgar.
We didn’t want to come to a new region and climb a mountain that had been climbed before if there are many virgin peaks nearby.
As a conclusion
The region is unique for the first ascents.
Three peaks of this valley were climbed via the easiest routes. And there are plenty of walls more than a kilometer high. Maybe, they are not so vertical as our one, but they can fit different tastes: if you like mixed terrain, choose north walls, if rocks, climb south…
Mountain Hard Wear – clothes, tents
Alpine eQuipment– AQ – gear
- Start-1- shoes