American-Brazilian Pair Bag Three New Routes in China

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Selfie on the summit of Daugou East in China. Photo by Pat Goodman.

Selfie on the summit of Daugou East in China. Photo by Pat Goodman.

11/4/14 - West Virginia climber Pat Goodman often does two international expeditions a year—and in recent years it’s almost always been to the same two places: the Northwest Territories of Canada and Siguniang National Park in Sichuan, China. This fall Goodman returned to Sichuan for his sixth attempt on the unclimbed, 900-meter west face of Seerdengpu. That didn’t pan out, but Goodman and his Brazilian partner, Marcos Costa, still managed three first ascents. Here is Goodman’s story:

I spent September 11 to October 5 in the Shuangqiao Valley in Sichuan, China. My climbing partner was 33-year-old Marcos Costa, a Brazilian who has spent the last seven years living and climbing in China. Undoubtedly, Marcos is a driving force in the current explosion of new route development in China, from the sport climbs in Getu to the trad climbs in Liming and the incredible ice and alpine climbing throughout Sichuan Province.

Our main objective was the still-unclimbed “great wall of China”: the west face of Seerdengpu (5,592m/18,346'). Within days of our arrival into the valley, we were about 300 meters up the wall, taking a solid beating from the constant rockfall that curses this beautiful peak. After some close calls we bailed; this was my sixth attempt, on as many routes, to try and tame this beast, over the course of three separate trips.

Unprotected 5.8 during the first ascent of the 3,000-foot Moo Moo Ridge. Photo by Marcos Costa.

Unprotected 5.8 during the first ascent of the 3,000-foot Moo Moo Ridge. Photo by Marcos Costa.

We switched our focus to an unclimbed peak that held the skyline to the south, right across the valley from Seerdengpu: Peak 5,467 (17,936'). After 10 hours of climbing, we completed what we believe to be the first ascent of the long and complex southeast ridge, thus making the first recorded ascent of Peak 5,467. We dubbed it the Moo Moo Ridge (1,000m, 5.10+ R).

No rest for the wicked—we immediately hiked up into the wonderful subvalley called Daugou, home to an impressive collection of jagged peaks and walls, including the northwest faces of Daugou East and Daugou West, as well as the recently climbed Dayantianwo and Peak 5,180. We were interested in the unclimbed stuff, and two substantial features stood out: Peak 5,100 and Peak 5,184. Once in the valley, we met four French climbers, Elodie Lecomte, Aurelie Didillon, Simon Duverney, and Sebastian Ratel, who were heading up to climb the impressive east wall on Peak 5,100. They succeeded and established Les Rescapés de la Forêt Magique (600m, 7b A2) over the course of three or four days. They dubbed the 16,732-foot mountain Four Pigs Peak.

Marcos and I set out for an attempt on the northwest face of Peak 5,184 (17,008'). A recent snowstorm had deposited an uncomfortable amount of white on the rock, but we persevered through hours of screaming barfies and established a “fun” 1,000-foot 5.11, bagging another new peak. From the summit, Daugou East and West owned the skyline, and we both knew where we wanted to go next! We spent a few days cragging on an impressive 650-foot, overhanging orange wall that stood just to the west – no doubt this thing would have routes all over it if weren’t so hard to get to!

View from the summit of Peak 5,184, with the stunning Daugou East (left) and Daugou West in back. Photo by Pat Goodman.

View from the summit of Peak 5,184, with the stunning Daugou East (left) and Daugou West in back. Photo by Pat Goodman.

With just under a week left before my flight home, Marcos and I headed up the subvalley of Xiaogou for a look at the south faces of the Daugous and Chibu. We were immediately drawn to a brilliant granite pillar that dominated the south face of Daugou East (5,462m/17,920'). We climbed through squalls of snow and sleet, shivering our way up incredible cracks and good granite. The best pitch was perhaps the last: a 40-meter, 5.11 thin-hands splitter. So fun! We found no anchors or signs of a previous ascent, and our subsequent research determined that the earthquake of 2008, which killed approximately 69,000 people, destroyed countless homes, and permanently scarred every peak in the park, had lowered the previously recorded elevation of Daugou by four meters and almost completely erased the route climbed by Chad Kellogg, Joe Puryear, and Stoney Richards in 2005.

We dubbed our route the South Pillar (700m, 5.11+). Our ascent was the second recorded climb of Daugou East.

Dates of ascents: September-October 2014

Source: Pat Goodman