Himalayan Journal vol.59
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.59

Publication year:
2003

Editor:
Harish Kapadia
Index
  1. AN ENQUIRY INTO THE REAL NAME OF MT. EVEREST
    (WILLIAM McKAY AITKEN)
  2. THE MAKING OF THE HIMALAYA AND HUMANS
    (RASOUL SORKHABI)
  3. CAMPS AND SUMMITS TO THE LAND OF THE BLUE POPPY
    (A. D. MODDIE)
  4. REFLECTIONS
    (DOUG SCOTT)
  5. SIKKIM, TENZING AND A SACRED VALLEY
    (JOHN A. JACKSON)
  6. A SHORT TOUR OF THE EAST
    (Col. BALWANT S. SANDHU)
  7. TO THE ALPS OF TIBET - PART II
    (TAMOTSU NAKAMURA)
  8. WITH MASLOW TO MANASLU
    (JON GANGDAL)
  9. FOOTPRINTS IN THE RUDRA VALLEY
    (Lt. Col. A ABBEY)
  10. LITTLE KAILASH PILGRIMAGE
    (MARTIN MORAN)
  11. SUJ TILLA
    (GRAHAM LITTLE)
  12. ASCENT OF THE NEEDLE PEAK
    (LT. CDR. SATYABRATA DAM)
  13. THE GOD THAT DID NOT FAIL
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  14. FIRST ASCENT OF PADMANABH
    (HIROSHI SAKAI)
  15. THE ASCENT OF SEPU KANGRI
    (CARLOS BUHLER)
  16. KINGS OF KARAKORAM
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  17. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN
    (WILLIAM McKAY AITKEN)
  18. SUCH A LONG JOURNEY
    (M. H. CONTRACTOR)
  19. EXPEDITION AND NOTES
  20. BOOK REVIEWS
  21. IN MEMORIAM
  22. CORRESPONDENCE
  23. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 2002

TO THE ALPS OF TIBET - PART II

TAMOTSU NAKAMURA

Revisiting Unknown Nyainqentanglha East

Three elderly members of The Japanese Alpine Club again visited the least-known parts of Nyaiqentanglha East, Tibet, in April - May and October - November 2002. The party entered the unvisited glacial valleys with the objectives of firstly unveiling the northern side of the central part of the range and secondly of reconnoitering the highest unclimbed peak, the holy mountain 'Nenang' (6870 m), and exploring unknown 6000 m peaks north of Bomi.

I. IN THE HEART OF EASTERN TIBET

Projected Route and Actual Record

Travel to less frequented regions in the Tibetan marches is always unpredictable, even these days. We often encountered unexpected happenings and incidents on the way due to the problems of being granted a permit to restricted areas, unstable weather, dangerous roads, dreadful landslides, trouble with local people and lack of information. However, we did manage to come through the difficulties, keeping in mind 'Anything can happen but nothing is impossible in China'. An important key to success is the ability to cope with the situation in a flexible manner and to change the travel route without hesitation depending on the circumstances. We were forced to abandon our original plan to enter Yigong Tsangpo and to cross Shargung la on the Tsangpo - Salween Divide to the north since a part of the gorges on the way was impassable.

Actual Record (24 April to 17 May, 2002. Driving Distance 3600 km):

Lhasa--Bayi-Yigong tso - Tongmai--Bomi--Rawu--Banda--Lhorong-

-(Recce of peaks & glaciers in Puyu valley- BC1)-Pelbar (Pemba)- (Recce of peaks & glaciers in Dam Dol valley- BC2)-Lhorong-Qamdo- Tengcheng-Nakchu-Lhasa.

1. See Part I in HJ. Vol. 58, p. 131.

Photos 4-6-7-8

Members of the Expedition: Tamotsu Nakamura (67 years old), Tsuyoshi Nagai (69), Eiichiro Kasai (60), Tashi (Tibetan guide, 28) and Tsering Zashi (Tibetan cook, 20)

Itinerary and Highlights

22 April : Chengdu - Lhasa. Tibet Mountaineering Association (TMA) welcomed us.

24 to 26 April : Lhasa - Banda/Junction to Qamdo (Two Toyota Land- cruisers).

27 April : Banda - Qamdo Airport - (four high passes) - Lhorong.

The weather was unstable almost every day. The scenery suddenly changed. The western side of the watershed of Wi Qu and Nujiang (Salween) was forested. The road crossed four passes and descended precipitously to the river bank of Nu Jiang (Salween). We stood on Jiayu Bridge (3295 m) with heightened emotions as the bridge is a historical place where the old China road 'Gya Lam' from Peking to Lhasa crossed Salween river. Pundit 'A', dispatched by the Survey of India, reached this bridge on 2 September, 1882. Immediately after the bridge, the road went along the deep gorge of a small tributary to the west along the old China road till shortly the valley opened up. We passed through Kansa (4100 m), Old Lhorong where the ruins of a large monastery, which had been destroyed by the Red Army at the time of the Cultural Revolution, are strikingly dominant on the hill looking over Kansa village. After crossing the last pass (4500 m) we arrived at Lhorong (3680 m).

Sky Burial and to the Least-known Valley

28 April, we visited the Zudo monastery of the Yellow Hat sect which at present has 125 monks. One of the monks was kind enough to take us to the place of 'Sky Burial' not far from Lhorong township. When we came to the place at about 11:00, the ceremony had already finished but a hundred vultures were still flocked there. The vultures were being fed with dumplings made of tsampa and smashed human bones. We were indeed deeply impressed.

29 April, the current road runs westwards from Lhorong to Pelbar (Pemba) almost along the old China road, Gya Lam, in the northern foothills of the main Tsangpo-Salween divide. We left Lhorong at 8:20. The weather was completely fair in the morning. Stopping at Shopando (3400 m), we asked villagers about the traffic southward to Bomi, but the trade footpath which crosses a high pass over 5000 m was closed due to heavy snow. At 10:20 we crossed a pass (4440 m) and at noon again asked villagers in Parirang (4080 m) about the trail to Bomi. Their answer was the same. Nobody could cross Tungla la (5262 m) down to Bomi because of snow in May but a three-days horse caravan would possibly carry us to Bomi between mid June and early October. Ronald Kaulback and John Hambury- Tracy crossed this pass in 1935.

We crossed the highest pass (4760 m) down to the village of Lhatse (4135 m), again crossed a pass (4490 m) and then entered a wide open riverbed in Puyu valley to the southwest. The road was only a vehicle track, which at times crossed river streams and was non-existent here and there. In the rainy season no vehicle would be able to drive up the valley because of the higher water levels of the streams.

After an hour's drive in the mist, one of our Land-cruisers was stuck in the stream. It was like a sudden death. Villagers in the vicinity kindly worked till dark to pull out the car from the stream and a truck also came to help. Inspite of the villagers' help, however, all the efforts were in vain. We pitched tents (4080 m) near the stream to spend the night. It snowed all night.

30 April, it continued to snow in the morning. 10 horses and eight porters from Shel Shep village came at 11:00. Leaving the car stuck in the stream we trekked up the valley and arrived at Shel Shep village (4110 m) at 14:30, where we lodged in the shed of a Tibetan house. Shel Shep is the last point that foreigners have ever visited and none have ever travelled further beyond. Many caterpillar fungi, which are an important source of the villagers' income, grow around there. One piece of good quality can cost five RMB (US$ 0.60). Trees and bushes for fuel are abundant in the lower valley but they use yak dung for fuel in the upper pasture.

1 May, wonderful weather! The magnificent snow peaks of Kona I, II, III appeared for the first time in the headwaters of the valley to the southwest. At 9:45 our caravan with 13 horses and nine porters departed from Shel Shep and marched up the right-bank of the wide open flat riverbed toward the headwaters. We soon passed the primary school of Puyu village. The Puyu valley separates to two principal glacier valleys at the end. To the east is the glacier valley of one the most impressive peaks, Kongga (6488 m) and to the west is the valley of Kona I, II and III all exceeding 6300 m. At about noon we set up our base camp - BC1 (4180 m) at a point near the confluence of two streams beyond old glacier moraines and close to a stream flowing from the west valley. There are summer cottages for pasturage of Puyu villagers.

Quest for Peaks and Glaciers - Puyu Valley

In the afternoon of 1 May, we entered the west valley and attempted to reach the ice falls in the lower part of the glacier surrounded by the three peaks of Kona. We trekked on a yak trail from BC1 to the southwest along the right bank of an infant glacier lake, one-third of which was still frozen. Apparently the retreat of the glacier was forming the lake. The trail was exposed to frequent rock avalanches that fell down from precipitous slopes above the right bank of the lake, threatening us all the time. In an hour we reached the glacier tongue, and then ascended yak trails on the lowest part of glacier from the end, the surface of which was covered with debris. At 15:30 we got to the foot (4300 m) of the icefalls and returned to BC1 at 17:30. The weather changed and it began to snow.

BC1 is at 30°40.266'N and 94°41.482'E. On both sides of the two valleys, west and east, a mark of erosion made by glaciers is clearly observed. The mark runs in ten to a hundred meters high strips along the foot of the mountain. It tells us of the retreat of the glaciers. Similar erosion is also seen in the Dam Dol valley. According to the Russian Topographical Map of 1:200,000 (hereinafter called as RTM), the glacier surrounded by Kona peaks has an overall length of about 8 km from the farthest glacier head down to the glacier tongue. Beyond the watershed that the range of Kona and other 6000 m peaks form, Qiaqing glacier, the largest glacier in the basin of Yigong Tsangpo, 35 km in length, flows down to the southeast.

3 May, we entered the east valley traversing up and down yak trails on undulating old moraines covered with low conifer trees and shrubs to the flat riverbed. We went up to the glacier end where no glacier lake yet exists. The lower part of the glacier was covered with debris. We could have had a glimpse of the magnificent profile of Kongga (6488 m) if the weather had been fine. The upper north face of Kongga was beautifully adorned with precipitous Himalayan fluted ice and the summit ridge was guarded with huge overhanging cornices.

The sight of the east valley from BC1 is narrow, but RTM indicates that the glacier of the east valley separates to two streams at about 4 km from the glacier end. The left one stretching to the east is the main stream, being about 6 kms long, whilst the right one going up southwards to the foot of the north face of Kongga and then westwards is only 2 kms long. The glacier width is about 2 kms at the confluence where icefalls are viewed from Puyu valley. Behind Kongga to the east, a 6445 m peak exists on the main watershed between Salween and Tsangpo according to the 1:100,000 topographical map of the China

People's Liberation Army (hereinafter called the PLA map). But this peak cannot be seen, being hidden by Kongga. On the southern side of the watershed two glaciers flow down to Yigong Tsangpo. The one in the west is Ruoguo glacier, 14 kms in length and the other in the east is Narong glacier, 18 kms in length.

4 May, two Land-cruisers came to BC1 having been repaired in Pelbar (Pemba).

5 May, we moved from BC1 to the new township of Pelbar county (3650 m). Surprisingly fresh winds were blowing in this most remote and isolated place located in the valley of a tributary of Salween river (Nu Jiang). It was experiencing a construction boom which the government policy of 'Great Development of West China' is accelerating. Protection works in the form of a river wall were in full swing and many new houses were being built. Tibetan villagers of Puye were working there together with Chinese migrant workers. Recently a new road has connected Pelbar to Biru County in the upper Salween basin. Now we may drive from Pelbar to Lhasa via Nakchu in three days.

Quest for Peaks and Glaciers - Dam Dol Valley

On 6 May, we left Pelbar at 9:30 for BC2. We drove back along the desolate valley. We again saw a Sky Burial site near old Pelbar (Pemba) village. Before reaching a high pass near Lhatsa we entered the open valley of Dam Dol where the Land-cruisers could pass. The topography and river conditions of the valley are very similar to Puya valley.

Having passed Dam Dol village on the left bank, we set up BC2 (4170 m) on a small pasture near a confluence of two streams, where Dam Dol valley separated to two glacier valleys. The west valley leads upwards to the southwest and the mighty white peaks of Chung Jung Tso (6204 m) massif soar on the glacier head. The east valley leads to the southeast and a pair of enchanting peaks, Goyon I (6252 m) and II (6140 m), separates the glacier to the east and south. From BC2 directly to the south there is a view of beautiful Goyon II and prominent erosions by glaciers that resemble Puyu valley as if they were twins. All these peaks are ranging on Tsangpo-Salween Divide. The two glacier valleys have their infant glacier lakes in the course of formation.

The main glacier of the east valley flows down from southeast to northwest, and a branch glacier runs from the south and merges with the main glacier at a confluence about 6 kms from the glacier end. The main glacier is about 7 kms in length from the confluence to the glacier head, whilst the branch glacier is about 3.5 kms in length to the south. The main glacier has an overall length of 13 kms. Beyond the watershed to the south there is Maguolong glacier, 14 kms long, that flows down to Yigong Tsanpo. Six 6000 m peaks range on the Tsangpo-Salween divide above both the glacier heads.

In the west valley the glacier flows down from southwest to northeast. It is about 4 kms from the glacier end to the confluence of two glaciers, one is to the south and the other is to the southwest. The former is about 4 kms to the glacier head and the latter is about 3 kms. Beyond the watershed to the south there is a branch glacier of Nalong glacier and other nameless glaciers. Four 6000 m peaks on the Tsangpo- Salween divide encircle the glacier heads. Old moraines of the east valley reach a confluence of the two valleys and they block a stream from the west valley.

7 May, we left BC2 at 8:30 to reconnoiter the west valley. We trekked a yak trail along the left bank of the stream. On the way we had a wonderful view of Goyon I and II with a glacier lake to the southeast. In an hour we entered a wide open flat riverbed going beyond the moraines of the east valley. A panorama of the snow-white glittering Chung Jung Tso (6204 m) massif suddenly came into sight. There was a small Tibetan village of only two houses. A Tibetan woman of the village kindly guided us to the upper glacier valley along a yak trail on the left bank making a detour to the upper pasture. At about noon we reached an ideal lookout point (4450 m). Chung Jung Tso and 6000 m snow peaks ranging to west, a profile of the glacier flowing down in an S curve and an infant glacier partly covered with ice appeared in front of us. On the way back the villagers received us very warmly, offering yogurt and butter tea. A girl and young woman made themselves up painting colored dots on their faces. It began to snow at midnight.

8 May, We entered the east valley for the purpose of reconnaissance. A yak trail led us at first through the first moraines, a mark of erosion by the glacier and then up a slope of low conifer trees and shrubs along the right-bank. However, the trail became impassable due to a landslide at the point of 4400 m that was a hundred meters high above the glacier tongue and lake. On the way back we visited the historical Dantseden Monastery, which had been destroyed at the time of the Cultural Revolution.

9 May, we departed from BC2 to Lhorong.

12 May, we moved from Lhorong to Qamdo (3250 m) at 20:00. It took four days to drive some 1100 kms from Qamdo to Lhasa via Sichuan- Tibet highway (north) to Nakchu and then Qinghai-Tibet highway to Lhasa. The road conditions of the northern route to Nakchu are worse than the southern route. We arrived at Lhasa on the afternoon of 17 May.

The total expense per person : departing from/returning to Tokyo - was US$ 8255 which includes the return air fare from Tokyo-Lhasa, US$ 2000 and the fee for a permit to enter restricted and unopened areas of the three prefectures of Nakchu, Qamdo and Nyingchi.

II. HOLY MOUNTAIN & NORTH OF BOMI Projected Route and Actual Record

Earlier snowfalls in East Tibet than those experienced during a normal year jeopardized our original Autumn Plan 2002 with the ambitious objective of crossing the heart of Nyainqentanglha East from south to north: Jula - Punkar - High pass - Niwu Qu - Yigong Tsanpo - Xia Qu - Alando - Shargung La - Pelbar (Pemba). Nevertheless we were finally satisfied with a wonderful outcome. In Phase I, a complete profile of the veiled holy mountain Nenang (6870 m) was revealed from the south for the first time. We were able to reach the high pass to Niwu valley down to Yigong Tsanpo. In Phase II, Jalong glaciers and peaks in the upper valley of Botoi Tsangpo north of Bomi were explored for the first time.


Actual Record (20 October - 16 November, 2002. 14 days horse caravan):

Phase 1: Lhasa-Bayi-Jula-Nenang valley (Recce of Nenang)- Jula-Punkar-Laqin La-Punkar-Lake Basong

Phase 2: Lake Basong-- Bomi-Botoi Tsangpo-Yuri- Zepu-

-Jalong Glacier (Recce of peaks and glaciers)-Yuri-Bomi-Lhasa

Members of the Expedition: Tamotsu Nakamura (67 years old), Naomi Kawabata (65), Lenny Cheng (Chinese guide/cook, 47), Tashi (Tibetan guide, 28)

Itinerary and Highlights

Phase I - Holy Mountain Nenang and March to Laqin La Holy Mountain Nenang Unveiled

20 October : Chengdu - Lhasa. Dou Chang Shen of TMA welcomed us.

22 to 23 October : Lhasa - Bayi - Jula (One Toyota Land-cruiser and one Pajero)

24 October, we organized a caravan with three horses for riding, five yaks to ferry up the loads and five muleteers at Bela village a little north of Jula (3500 m) and departed for Nenang. The caravan passed through Sebu village (3630 m) and turned westwards to Renbu valley with beautiful gorges in dense conifer forest. We set up the first camp at a well maintained small pasture called Pama (3790 m), at a junction to Nenang valley. It was a very hard job to lead and manipulate yaks in a steep forested trail.

25 October : We marched northwards up the trail through primeval forest on the right bank of Nenang valley. The valley has very narrow visibility as it is deeply eroded. We camped at 15:00 at comfortable Zhonggo pasture (4100 m), where we could catch a glimpse of the upper part of Nenang south face. According to our Tibetan muleteers we were the first foreigners to look upon their holy mountain Nenang. It snowed at midnight.

26 October : A yak trail crossed the main stream to the left bank before a large waterfall and ascended in zigzags through steep conifer forest to a small pass. We stood on the pass (4210 m) at 10:00. With no prior warning a breathtakingly magnificent panorama of Nenang came into sight beyond two glacier lakes. The pass is an ideal lookout point. Below the treacherous ridge and the precipitous south face, guarded and beautifully adorned with fluted mixed ice, a harsh wave of glacier icefalls streamed down into the lake as if in the form of a huge white dragon. The sky was cobalt blue. The leader of the muleteers told us that we had good fortune as the God of Nenang would scarcely allow visitors to see the holy mountain. The muleteer explained that 'Ne' meant holy thing, 'nang' meant inside and therefore 'Nenang' was interpreted as a holy mountain hidden inside of the valley. After two hours we descended to Pama pasture.

27 October : We left Pama at 9:00 and returned to Jula at 16:00. The holy mountain Nenang (6870 m) is now the highest unclimbed peak in Nyaiqentanglha East. Sepu Kangri (6956 m) had long been the highest but the American party of Mark Newcomb and Carlos Buhler succeeded in the first ascent of Sepu Kangri on 2 October, 2002.[1]
Attempt to cross Laqin La to Yigong Tsangpo

28 October : We moved from Jula to Punkar (3860 m) by truck.

29 October : We made one's day trek to the beautiful Lawa valley in the east of Punkar with a view of the profile of Birutaso (6691 m). Pretty Lawa valley is surrounded by such high peaks as Chuchepo (6550 m), a nameless snow pyramid of 6620 m and Birutaso. We walked up to Kangpu monastery and lake Kangu north of Birutaso. But we failed to see Birutaso.

In Punkar we stayed at a Tibetan house and arranged for the caravan to cross Laqin la (5300 m) to Niwu in the right bank of Yigong Tsangpo. According to the villagers there are three high passes over 5000 m to Niwu Qu, a valley north of Nenang down to Yigong Tsangpo. From the north to the south:- Laqin la and Bonggo la are north of the trade path from Punkar to Lhari via Keng la (5200 m), while Liqun is north of Lawa valley.

Laqin la (5300 m)-Pack animals can cross only this pass. Unmarked on Russian map.

Bonggo la (5303 m)-Marked on Russian map. The trail is too steep for pack animals.

Laqun la over 5000 m-Unmarked on Russian map. Pack animals cannot cross.

A famous plant-hunter, Frank Kingdon Ward stayed at Punkar in 1924 on the way to cross Keng la to Lhari. For three-quarters of a century this remote village had been calm and quite. However in recent years the circumstances have been changing as rapidly as in the other isolated areas. Roads suitable for vehicles are under repair. Some Tibetan houses make use of a solar battery unit for lighting and also kerosene engines to generate electricity. They enjoy video pictures. Villagers gain a substantial income from caterpillar fungi for Chinese traditional medicines and 'Matsutake' mushrooms which are exported solely to Japan.

There was much difficulty in organizing the caravan to cross Laqin la due to two reasons. Firstly because this autumn snow had fallen earlier than in a normal year, the caravan leader and some of muleteers were afraid of snow on the pass and were unwilling to go to Niwu. In particular they were worried that heavy snowfalls would prevent their return journey. Secondly, one of the horse owners strongly demanded compensation for the death or injury of his horses should this occur on the way. Discussions lasted a long time. In the end, they finally agreed to arrange for a large caravan to carry us to Niwu with 11 horses and 5 muleteers. It snowed in the night.

30 October : It was a late departure from Punkar at 14:30. The caravan followed a trade path through Jiagongna valley toward Lhari and camped at a small pasture Qipudi (4040 m) alongside the stream.

31 October : We left Qipudi at 10:40 and after having passed a junction to Bonggo la, the caravan entered a branch valley to Laqin la. Two hours' march up the valley took us to a wide open pasture at 4480 m where the valley was divided to the northwest and to the northeast. The latter led to Laqin la. We camped there. We saw a group of mountain goats.

1 November : The caravan ascended along the branch valley toward Laqin la. When we reached the last pasture at 4870 m, the muleteers suddenly refused to cross Laqin la and go down to Niwu. They decisively emphasised the difficulty and danger of crossing the pass judging from the conditions of the heavily snow-covered northern side of the mountains that surrounded the valley. No option was given to us. We had to abandon our original plan. We set up tents at the pasture and searched for a trail to Laqin la as we had to ascend the following day to at least the pass before retreating. steeper but was entirely buried under the snow. Route finding was not easy. The conditions were obviously too dangerous for pack animals to follow the trail safely.

We stood atop Laqin la (5300 m) at 12:00. I had greatly anticipated a grand panorama from the pass of shining 6000 m peaks and glaciers north of Niwu valley. A bit to my disappointment, however, what appeared in front of me to the north was not so alluring or fascinating. Only a spiky rock peak of 6060 m towering in the northwest was attractive.

Kajaqiao (6447 m) was not visible, and other 6500 m high peaks were also out of sight, being hidden by lesser ranges on the southern side. We descended to a camp at 4390 m and decided to return to Punkar as soon as possible in order to carry on Phase II to the unknown mountains of Botoi Tsangpo, a tributary of Parlung Tsangpo north of Bomi.

3 November : Snowfall was 20 cm deep. Several groups of yaks caravans were moving in the snowy valley from Lhari to Punkar. We came back to Punkar at 16:30.

4 November : We were able to catch a truck from Punkar to Jula and to Xueka (3370 m) near Lake Basong (3500 m). Now Phase I of our journey was completed.

Phase II - Unknown Peaks and Glaciers North of Bomi To Botoi Tsangpo - Yuri and Zepu Glacier

5 November : Xueka - Lake Basong.

6 November : Lake Basong - Bayi - Lamaling monastery - Bayi.

The weather became stable. The scenery of Lake Basong, with autumn leaves and surrounding peaks soaring into a blue sky, was nothing short of spectacular - it was indeed the Alps of Tibet.

7 November : Bayi - Seti la (5410 m) - Tongmai (2150 m)- Bomi (2735 m).

Another highlight was a complete view from Seti la of Namcha Barwa, Gyala Peri and other 6800 m unclimbed peaks near the Tsangpo Great Bend. The road from Bayi to Tongmai is now under construction for paving all the way.

8 November : We entered Botoi Tsangpo from Bomi to Yuri and Zepu via Qingdou by Land-cruiser. The valley is opened and much populated. It was surprising to find a large jail in such a small village.

Now there was a breath of winter in the air. Tempting and challenging rock and snow peaks came into sight in succession. Very soon the forest was left behind. We arrived at Yuri (3100 m) at 15:00. Donald Kaulback and John Hanbury-Tracy passed this valley to the north in early October of 1935 on their journey to seek the upper Salween. We spent overnight in a shabby rest house at Yuri and organized a caravan. Yuri is a township having a primary school, hospital, bank, shops and power station with a diesel engine generator. It is located at the confluence of Zepu Qu northwestward and Botoi Tsangpo northward to Tungla la 5267 m on Tsangpo-Salween divide that Kaulback and Tracy crossed. We were able to have a view of the range of snow-white 6200 m - 6300 m peaks surrounding Zepu glacier from Yuri to the northwest. But the glacier itself was hidden by the forested hill in front.

Zepu glacier is the third biggest glacier in Nyaiqentanglha East. It has an total glacier area of 66 square kms. The glacier end is located at 95°15'E and 30°17'N. In 1989 the China - Japan Joint Glaciology Expedition to Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau conducted a scientific survey and research of Zepu glacier. The report is summarized as follows:

'Currently Zepu glacier, a valley type glacier, stretches for 19 kms from the upper end to its terminus. The highest point of the glacier basin is 6364 m in altitude and the lowest one at the terminus 3500 m. The last 7 km is covered with superglacial till and has penetrated into the forested area. In this situation, trees are often trapped and buried by the morainic sediments deposited by advancing glaciers, and therefore buried wood sometimes is found in sediments around the glacier. It provides good samples for radiocarbon dating. Around the ablation area of the glacier and downstream of the terminus, several lateral and terminal moraines are distributed in a typical U-shaped valley. (Professor Shuji Iwata)

After the China-Japan party no foreigners visited Zepu glacier, Zepu village and beyond. Local people confirmed this.

9 November : Our caravan of eight horses and four muleteers left Yuri in the late morning up the valley of Zepu Qu and camped near by Zepu village (3330 m).

To the unknown Jalong Glacier

Zepu glacier was considered very attractive, but we narrowed the target of our exploration to Jalong glacier and veiled peaks in the vicinity for the following two reasons. Transport of supplies and gear to Zepu glacier takes time as there is no trail for pack animals, while Jalong glacier 12 kms north of Zepu glacier has been unvisited by foreigners till today and access is easier than Zepu glacier.

10 November : At 10:00 we departed. Zepu Qu is a typical U-shaped valley stretching to the north. We marched for half an hour on an open flat riverbed with good grass and lower shrubs along the left bank of Zepu Qu. Then the trail passed through dense primeval forest of large conifer trees. Tall trees had hindered visibility from the trail almost all the way till we reached a bridge to cross the stream to the right bank of Zepu Qu. In front Jalong glacier appeared. The terminal part of several kilometers was covered with sediment. The slope was very gentle but the surface looked rough and complicated. It would be similar to the other glaciers in this mountain range. We set up tents near the bridge (3760 m) at 15:15. In late afternoon we went down to the glacier end for a preliminary search of the glacier. Also we found a good lookout point on the left bank of Zepu Qu. The muleteers kept big camp fires burning all night long in order to protect us from attacks by wild animals such as bears and snow leopards.

11 November : We had to take advantage of the best but slimmest chance of taking photos of Jarong glacier and peaks. I got up before dawn and ascended to a lookout point that I had found during the previous day. Morning mists and clouds were gradually moving away and fading out as the sun rose. From the south to northwest a spectacular panorama of the most alluring Jalong I (6292 m), the highest Jalong II (6420 m), Jalong III (6070 m) and Jalong IV (6224 m) was unveiled in one hour. The glacier (C) between Jalong II and III seen before me flowed down eastward forming terraces and icefalls one after another.

According to PLA, 1:100,000 map, Jarong glacier has four branch streams. The terminal main stream is 5 kms from the glacier end at Zepu Qu to the junction of the four branch glaciers. From the south each branch glacier has an overall length of (A) 5 kms, (B) 8 kms, (C) 7 kms and (D) 9 kms respectively. The shining Jarong I is located west of the (A) glacier head. On the way back we again found another lookout point where we could see snow-white 6000 m peaks ranging at the head of (D) glacier. We returned to the campsite (3350 m) in wide open pasture with nomad huts near Zepu village at 18:00.

12 November : The finest weather lasted one week and gave us blue sky, but it now ceased. The caravan returned to Yuri at about noon where our Land-cruiser had been waiting for us. We hurried to Bomi. Phase II was completed.

13/14 November : Bomi - Bayi - Lhasa . Safely returned.

The total expense per person - departing from/returning to Tokyo - was US $8100 which includes return air fare of Tokyo-Lhasa and US $ 2000 for the fee for a permit to enter restricted and unopened areas and the expense for 14 days horse caravan.

Bibliography & Maps English Version

The Alpine Journal 1998, 1999, London

Chris Bonington & Charles Clarke, Tibet's Secret Mountain - The Triumph of Sepu Kangri, 1999 London Ronald Kaulback, Salween, 1936 London John Hanbury-Tracy, Black River of Tibet, 1940 London Frank Kingdon-Ward, The Riddle of The Tsangpo Gorges, 1926 London

Francis Younghusband, Pekin to Lhasa (Journey made by Brigadier-General George Pereira), 1925 London

J. B. N. Hennessey, Exploration in Great Tibet and Mongolia, by AK, 1879-1882 made in connection with the Trigonometrical Branch, Survey of India, 1884 Dehra Dun

Chinese Version

Chinese Academy of Sciences, Glaciers of Tibet, 1986, Beijing Chinese Academy of Sciences, Glaciers of China, 1988, Beijing Science Publishers, Japan-China Joint Research of the Glaciers in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau 1989, 1993.

CMA & TCMA, Immortal Mountains in The Snow Region, 1995 (CMA: China Mountaineering Association, CTMA: China Tibet Mountaineering Association)

Maps

Mapping Agency of Tibetan Autonomous Region, Maps of Tibetan Autonomous Region 1:950,000 - 1:1,500,000.

Chinese Research Institute of Surveying and Mapping & CMA, Map of Mountain Peaks on The Qinghai-Xizang Plateau 1:2,500,000, 1989.

China People's Liberation Army, Topographical Map 1:100,000. Russia, Topographical Map 1:500,000 & 1:200,000.

SUMMARY

Visits to the southeast Tibet in 2002


2 November : A trio, consisting of Nakamura, Tibetan guide Tashi and one muleteer departed at 9:00 to Laqin la. The footpath above 5000 m was covered with snow. As we ascended, the path not only became


[1] See article on the ascent of Sepu Kangri in this volume - ed.