Southeast Tibet and Sichuan, virgin peaks, the autumn 2008 expedition. 

By Tamotsu “Tom” Nakamura

The routes of Tom Nakamura's Autumn 2008 Expedition to Deep Gorges Country (east Tibet) and Sichuan.

The routes of Tom Nakamura's Autumn 2008 expedition to Deep Gorges Country (east Tibet) and Sichuan.

Editor’s note: During his nearly 30 expeditions to eastern Tibet, Yunnan, and Sichuan—all in quest of “unveiling” mountains previously unknown to climbers—Tom Nakamura has become a living legend. He is an honorary member of the American Alpine Club and has received numerous awards from other international clubs as well. The main problem for climbers following in his footsteps is that the weather is rarely as good as what this “man of blue skies” conjures up for his photographs. The following brief summary of goals from his Autumn 2008 Expedition is just a teaser to the map and these select images. His full report and many more photos will appear soon, when we build the new, where we will host a major collection of Nakamura’s photographs and his many reports published in the AAJ.

Thanks to fine weather, last November I was finally able to realize some long-held goals during two stages of a long expedition. In addition to the goals listed below, I was able to photograph many other spectacular peaks during 4,000 km of driving, some of which are included in this collection.

Stage 1, Southeast Tibet: Exploration of Dungri Garpo (6,090m) in Deep Gorge Country. No explorers had previously reached this massif from the west, nor had photos been taken. The name and height of “Dungri Garpo” come from the 1:2,500,000-scale “Map of Mountain Peaks on the Qinghai-Xizang [Tibet] Plateau.” The Dungri Garpo massif is on the Mekong–Yu Qu (a tributary of the Salween River) Divide north of Damyon massif. The main 6,090m summit of Dungri Garpo is at E98°20’; N29°17’. According to local villagers, “Dungri” means Tibetan conch horn. Both massifs are in a northern extension of the Nu Shan, which ranges from north to south while sharing the watershed of the Mekong and Salween Rivers. The southern extension is the well-known Meili Snow Mountains. Another goal was to visit a 6,070m peak just north of Dungri Garpo, and then to photograph peaks along the Litang Plateau and Daocheng/Xiangchen Counties, the heart of west Sichuan.

Stage 2, Sichuan: Unveiling the 6,079m peak tentatively named Ren Zhong Feng, south of Minya Konka. For a long time I have wanted to unveil this 6,079m peak south of Minya Konka. The peak, tentatively named Ren Zhong Feng, is located south of the Tianwan River, which flows into the Dadu River, one of major tributaries of the Yangtze River. We gave it the name Ren Zhong Feng because the peak is in the Gang Gou valley north of Ren Zhong Lake. This peak appears on the same 1:2,500,000-scale “Map of Mountain Peaks on the Qinghai-Xizang [Tibet] Plateau.” Ren Zhong Feng is one of a few unclimbed 6,000m peaks in Sichuan. There have been no records of exploration, and no photos were available. The 6,079m peak is at E101°25’; N29°18’. Our other target was to see the unclimbed pyramid of 5,470m Xiaqingla in the Daxue Shan range northwest of the town of Danba in the Dadu River basin.

We were surprised to see large-scale dams and hydroelectric power stations progressing at terrific speed in the Dadu River basin. Naturally, there was attendant destruction of the environment along the rivers. The Dadu River is famous as part of the Long March, and a museum was recently built where the Red Army crossed the river in 1935. The Tibetan borderland is changing very fast.

Tamotsu Nakamura, editor of the Japanese Alpine News, Japan


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December 2008