Americans Climb Big New Route in China

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Peter Inglis climbs the initial couloir on Peak 5,965m, west of 6,204-meter Mt. Genyen. Photo by Joseph Puryear.

Peter Inglis and Joe Puryear have made the probable first ascent of Peak 5,965m, the second-highest peak in the Genyen Massif in western China. Peak 5,965m rises just to the west of Mt. Genyen (6,204m), the high point of this group.

The two American men traveled to the western Sichuan Province in mid-October, along with Julie Hodson, Jay Janousek, and Michelle Puryear; Hodson and Inglis had wanted to visit the area to pay tribute to their good friends Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler, who died on Mt. Genyen in the fall of 2006.

Well-acclimatized from previous adventures, the group quickly established a base camp at 4,200 meters, in a hidden valley on the peak’s southeast side, about 30 miles from the road. (Puryear believes they may have been the first foreigners ever to enter this valley.) On October 21, Hodson, Inglis, and Joe Puryear attempted the south side of the mountain from a high camp at around 5,000 meters but were halted by impenetrable cliffs on a sub-summit.

After scouting easier lines from high camp, Inglis and Puryear climbed a rocky couloir on the other side of the sub-summit the next day. “Because of the short days and the length and unknown nature of what lay ahead, we mutually decided that we would solo as much terrain as possible in order to get up and down the peak within a reasonable time frame,” Puryear said. “Luckily, most of the chossy gully was frozen in place and we quickly gained elevation.”

Inglis downclimbs the steep snow hump along the way to the final headwall on the south side of Peak 5,965m. Photo by Joseph Puryear.

Moderate fifth-class rock and mixed climbing provided the crux of the gully. Above this, steep snow led over a big hump to the base of the south-facing headwall. After climbing this 55-degree snow slope, they roped up to follow a sharp, corniced ridge to the top, arriving at the 19,570-foot summit a little before noon. They said a prayer for Boskoff and Fowler, and then quickly returned via their ascent route. Said Inglis of his friends: “They died in the most beautiful place in the whole wide world. And we miss them dearly.”

Date of Ascent: October 22, 2007

Source: Joseph Puryear

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The new route on the east and south aspects of Peak 5,965m in the Shaluli Shan. The summit is about 1,000 meters above high camp. Photo by Joseph Puryear.

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