This trip is the real deal. Even according to Messner, (reinhold-messner-climbing-adventure/) Eastern Tibet is the place to be if you want serious adventure. The Gangga range is an entire range of unclimbed peaks, most over 5000m and only about 5% of it’s topography explored and recorded. Japanese explorer Tamotsu Nakamura recced the range from a distance but did not enter the range on foot, meaning all records are from towns and roads. only iceclimbingjapan’s 2014 trip to Gangga VII has produced data specific on climbing.
This trip is run by iceclimbingjapan and coordinated with our Chengdu-based partners who provide local logistics in accordnace with Chinese law. This includes having a liasion officer and translator accompany each trip and a string of permits and redtape to get onto the plateau.
- Accommodation Chengdu-Chengdu
- Transport Chengdu-Chengdu
- Logistics including liaison officer, translator and all permits
- Visa support
- Most meals Chengdu-Chengdu including during transit and at BC
- Team on-mountain equipment
- Chinese fees and taxes
Prices don’t include
- Personal equipment
- Expenses outside team schedule
- Personal insurance
- On-mountain food
- Round-town fares
- Communications costs
Who is this trip for?
This trip will suit climbers wanting the genuine expedition process on technical objectives at high altitude. If you want a next step after the alps but don’t want the circus of Nepal and other common destinations this ticks all the boxes. If you’re attracted to new routes in unknown places, this is a playground of options. If you want to climb hard but can’t get the time for massive approaches and acclimation, these trips are as efficient as high altitude can get. If true exploration turns you on and the idea of contributing to the greater body of geographic knowledge excites you this is a rare opportunity. If you are looking for the kindred expedition experience amongst serious climbers, far from the cliques of the Khumbu fishbowl, you will find it here.
These trips are the antidote for the stasis and climb-by-numbers safaris that international climbing has become, where fixed ropes strangle peaks and the commercial bubble homogenizes mountains into tourist venues.
China and NE Tibet
China is it’s own civilization, and tho we spend little time in the overwhelming metropoli even the remote areas are several steps beyond travel in countries familiar with western ways. In China people either dont know or dont care about life beyond their civilization.
Chengdu is as good as China gets. pollution isnt too bad, the climate is nice, the layout logical and the Sichuanese population relatively relaxed, educated and cosmopolitan. Chengdu escapes many of the problems that afflict much of China. But, its not Shanghai, Beijing and certainly not Hong Kong. English is minimal, both written and spoken, and as a melting pot of greater China disparity is noticeable. despite there being Arcteryx stores and Starbucks down town, theres also dodgy construction sites, child beggars and maoist propaganda. tho circumventable, some internet sites like Google / Gmail and the BBC are blocked.
outside Chengdu things get local fast. 6 lane freeways hurl us towards high peaks and after the traffic clears we are on minor roads getting higher and higher. late in the day after leaving Chengdu we cross +3500m passes and that night sleep above 3500m in a Tibetan town with more horses than cars in the streets.
Ganzi town is a serious Khampa cowboy outpost. Riders from the highlands swagger about the streets with gold teeth and yak skin jerkins, nomadic families encamp on the edge of town, thousands of monks inhabit Ganzis various monasteries and the rambling streets are a hive of stacked houses and random markets where the cross roads of eastern Tibet meet. this is definitely not ‘Tourist Tibet’.
Safety, Security & Politics
All Tibetan areas are sensitive. Ganzi and the Gangga range sits in a grey area that straddles open areas and strictly closed Tibet. Until about 2005 the area was closed to foreigners other than to transit and Ganzi is still tightly monitored. Permits to visit and climb in the area are assessed individually, and entail a series of strict rules that include employing a team liasion officer and official translator to keep things in order. This doesnt interfere with things so long as we stick to climbing, and makes things much easier when dealing with redtape. Passports are checked regularly while transiting to where we climb so need to be kept accessible (ie not in the depths of your climbing gear)
Being in sensitive areas we will be monitored, including checkpoints and registering in hotels. This is an unobtrusive process unless the authorities are given cause to look closer, which may mean being kept from climbing until things are sorted. Needless to say this is not what we want.
Note that the pre-2010 ‘system’ of ‘just go and buy your way out if caught’ doesnt work any more, and the current crackdown on corruption means authorities detain wayward foreigners rather than accept a ‘fee’. Note too that on previous trips authorities have checked and deleted photo files on cameras and laptops.
As a destination China is quite safe, with very little risks to personal safety, especially foreigners. Petty crime like pick-pocketing occurs, often in small gangs of street kids, and hotel rooms left unlocked can be rummaged thru. In some areas low level banditry has occurred and some Tibetan groups are known for their history of it, tho being accompanied by a liasion officer means we have a very low chance of problems.
Chinese roads are better than they used to be and our drivers are licensed as transport operators. Unsafe driving standards result in dismissal and prosecution.
We eat very well in China. Most food off the mountain is provided, including: group meals, meals in hotels, meals during transit, meals in BC. Not enough food is never a problem and the BC staff spend endless hours cooking.
Despite being in Tibetan areas we eat a wide range of Chinese food with some western adaptations. Sichuan cusine is reknowned for its freshness and flavour and if you thought you knew Chinese food think again. Our proximity to town means we can resupply, so all meals are cooked fresh and never get dull. All team members are encouraged to take part in the buying up process, and China being China nothing is off the menu. Beer, whisky and rice wine are available everywhere. Canned and instant coffee are surprisingly available even in Ganzi, tho beans will need to come from Chengdu.
On-mountain food is each climbers responsibility and Chengdu has western supermarkets and Costco-style bulk food stores to load up from, tho things like energy bars are not on the shelves.
China doesnt happen without some degree of hoop-jumping but thankfully our local operators take care of 99% of it. This leaves team members with only the visa process to complete, which is supported by all the necessary documents. Climbers will need to begin the process about a month prior, and it will require confirmed flights, hotels and booking with a local operator. peak, access and climbing permits and also require team members to send us a list of personal data, and the whole lot can only take place once a climbers position is confirmed via full payment.
Note that the visa and permit process requires providing personal information that includes itinerary details and questions about employment. We will advise on appropriate responses.