Thursday, 11 January 2007

Japanese Attempt

3 January 2007
Well, the rumour has it that around the 20th of December a Japanese team was in the area, apparently attempting the North face of Siguniang. At this time I have no details besides this piece of info. Unfortunately for us history shows it that if a Japanese team wants to climb something they usually do... without much fuss about style or other lame issues.

EDIT 4 January 2007

I learn from Mr. Okawa who is a Japanese photographer and conservationist living in the town of Rilong that the Japanese team was indeed in the area from the beginning of November until mid December and that they attempted the North West face but it seems that without success.

A Story

When I left Europe for China the main reason was that I wanted to put myself in real proximity to un-crowded alpine and Himalayan settings which was meant to make my pocket happier and my seasons fuller. I, as many others, came across Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden’s trip report about their climb on the ice line of Siguninag 4 while I was in the UK and thought: “Damn! Cool but thanks no!” Then, a few months later, I saw the picture and I was hooked!

When I arrived in China the internet was my best friend till I met real people; some of them were kind enough to allow me to join their trip to Siguninag shan that following winter.

First thing I saw, the morning after we arrived, was her: the Fourth Sister! Right there I knew I want to climb that baby and I knew am in no shape for it…

We had a blasting time albeit adapting to China subtracted 12kg from my anyway diminutive mass, we got bogged down in deep snow while trying an FA, climbed icefalls that went down in the sun hours after we topped out, broke some fingers on the last day while convincing myself that running water is actually ice, and more – we became good friends, and I was in dire need of that. Also, in one sunny day, I trekked (actually rode a horse) with Bob to the end of the valley and there I found the gem – the NW face. It looked even better than in the picture! We turned around and I knew I’ll be back.

And back I went: to climb a North face with Bob in the valley next door and a South West face with Geordie on the peak itself.

Since then I met Leslie whom I knew, again, from the internet, and I knew I found my man for those trouser filling A4/5 pitches I was willing to belay and photograph…. The question was how to lure him? We climbed a couple of days in Turzii Gorge, back home in Transilvania, while we were both home during the summer months and he could not resist my charm...

Actually I think it was more because he never been to China before and our little trip was a good excuse for some intensive course in using chopsticks….

Geordie was out – the coward took a job that actually paid him to fuss around with college girls teaching them how to abseil in Borneo rather than paying a couple of grand to freeze his arse with me on a wall. Nusu was next on the line and all started to look like we were getting somewhere. [Last summer, during some horrendous weather in the Bucegi Mts., again back home in Romania, Nusu was the eternal Duracel-Bunny.] We needed that quality as to complement a team made of an old bear and a lazy pen-pusher, that is to kick us into other kind of action besides boiling coffees; plus I needed somebody to free climb the pitches I’d belay and photograph!

Leslie also called on board two young guns from back home whom I briefly met, again, last summer. I don’t know much about Liviu and Esposito (a chat around a bottle of Coke doesn’t count) but sure as hell I’ll be finding all I need to know about ‘em fellas by mid February! Oh - and from what I know, Liviu sounds like he might be the one to take on the ice pitches I could belay and photograph! Sounds like a plan! I'm sorted! Gotta go out and buy an ATC and some film rolls!


The Team

Leslie Fucsko

Prélenfrey, France
38450 Le Gua
45 years old, married, 1 child

Leslie has been climbing for more than 30 years. Born in Romania he learned the ropes at the communist school, then emigrated to Australia and finally settled in France. His travels have always been with keeping the mountains in sight and he graduated from the North faces of the Alps soon after his relocation to France. Leslie is an all-around climber with a penchant for big walls and aid climbing and a passion for travelling to climbing destinations, whatever kind of climbing that might be. He has repeated or opened new routes in the mountains of four different continents.

His sponsors are: Beal, Millet, Ripair, Petzl, Espace Montagne and he is also supported by La Mairie de Grenoble the GHM and the FFME.

Contact Leslie

Cosmin Andron

Guangzhou, China
30 years old

Cosmin's website

Cosmin was born in Romania where he began climbing in 1989 in the mountains around his native city in the north-west of Transilvania. In time he extended his explorations into the vertical world visiting most of the climbing areas in the country. Following his move to Ireland and then England he learned to enjoy climbing in the rain and slate and on dodgy gear and, as often as time and finances allowed, visited the Alps, some of the Italian crags and the East coast of the US. In 2004 he decided to move to China with the plan to take advantage of the huge, untapped, alpine potential there. He climbed extensively throughout the country, helped in opening new sport and trad areas and put up alpine and big wall first ascents in Eastern Tibet as well as enjoying the sunny beaches of more tame climbing destinations as Thailand. He enjoys and practices all aspects of climbing (sport, ice, trad, big wall, and alpine) albeit the lure of a good epic, the exposure and grandeur of nature make him to see himself more as an alpinist than anything else. However he still doesn't know how his club-mates (in Romania CS Alternative and in China Open Team) see him, given the fact that he’s either not around or always out of shape and hanging of some bolt…. He works as a teacher in an international school in the city of Guangzhou (Canton).

His sponsors are: Black Diamond, Arcteryx, Blue Ice Adventure Equipment

Ion Neagoe (Nusu)

Brasov, Romania
35 years old, married, 1 child

Nusu was born in 1971 in a city in the heart of the Carpathians, in Romania. He has been climbing for 20 years and he is a certified climbing coach albeit he makes his living from working as an engineer in a telecommunications company. He took part in countless and won many climbing and cross-country and alpine skiing competitions. He is also a ski referee and since December 2006 a member of the board of the National Climbing and Mountaineering Federation of Romania. He feels at home both on ice and rock and has a penchant for long, old and forgotten trad routes while he also authored quite a bunch of lines of his own all over the Carpathians. He is supported by ATTA

Contact Nusu

Liviu Neagoe (Mr. G)

Oradea, Romania
26 years old

Liviu has been climbing for eight years. His hit list includes ZugSpitze, Joghsberg in the Alps, Peak Elbrus, Peak Ushba North, Nakra Tau, Kogutay in the Caucasus, ice falls in Romania, Germany, Norway (where he had a go at Vettysfossen, but the ice won that time...) Also he competed in ice climbing events and took part in the 2006 Busteni and Hemsedal IWC stations. He was responsible for new routing at his home crag, Vadul , the West of Transilvania. Liviu is a physician training towards a specialisation in surgery (although last I heard he was paying his bills working on rope access projects...).

Emilian Robert Camerzan (Esposito)

Tileagd, Romania
27 years old

Esposito makes a living working in rope access, which means he’s used at hanging around in belay seats and rigging – at least for the last eight years… He has done his apprenticeship on the walls in Romania and climbed also in Slovakia and ice in Norway as well as taking part in climbing competitions in Romania. He is Liviu's regular partner and co-author of routes at their home-crag, Vadul Crisului.

Contact Emil

Liviu and Esposito are
supported by Sport Expert, Kayland, Echipot, Spelemat, Gotech, Hannah, Solo, and Mountain Expert.

About our Objective

Siguniang shan is a chain comprising four main peaks, the highest of them reaching 6250m in Qionglai shan, Sichuan Province (also referred to as Eastern Tibet). The status of the routes and attempts on the fourth sister is, in December 2006, the following:

South Side:
1981 - Japanese team, SE ridge. FA of the mountain. Summit. Style: expedition siege.
1992 - Japanese team, SW ridge. Summit. Style: expedition siege.
1997 Charlie Fowler (USA), variation of the first Japanese route. Summit. Style: solo/alpine
2003 - Jon Otto (USA), T Boelter (USA), variation on the first Japanese route. Failed. Style: expedition siege
2004 - Jon Otto (USA) and a Chinese team, variation on the first Japanese route. Summit. Style: expedition siege.
2004 ? - Russian attempt on S face. Failed. No details.
2006 - Cosmin Andron (Romania), Waiwah Yip (UK) (July) - SW face FA; no summit intended. Style: big wall
2006 - Sun Bin (China) - (September-October) several attempts on th SE face (Ch. Fowler route). Failed. Style: solo/alpine
2006 - P Batoux (France) and French team (October-November) - attempt of new line on the S face. Failed. Style: alpine

North Side:
1981 - Jack Tackle (USA), Jim Donini (USA), Kim Schmitz (USA) - attempt on the NW face. Failed. Style: big wall
2002 - M. Fowler (UK), P. Ramsden (FA) (April) - FA of the NW face. Summit. Style: alpine
2004 - Tom Chamberlain (UK), Dave Evans (UK), Andy Sharpe (UK), Dave Hollinger (UK) (May) - attempt on the NW face. Failed. Style: alpine
2005 - Chad Kellogg (USA), Joe Puryear (USA) and Stoney Richards (USA) (September-October) - attempt on the NW face. Failed. Style: big wall
2006 - P Batoux and French team (October-November), FA of Siguniang N independent peak. Summit. Style: alpine
2006 - Japanese team (November-December) - attempt on the NW face. Failed. Style: ?

The northwest face of the main peak(6250m) of Four Girls Mountains

Photo © Kenzo Okawa (picture linked from Click on the image for a larger version from the original site.

Photo © Bob Keaty (picture linked from
Click on the image for a larger version from the original site.

Map of Siguniang Shan Photo © (picture linked from Click on the image for a larger version from the original site.

The Project

We have as main objective to open a route on the NW face of the fourth peak. Secondary objectives are ice climbing in Shuanqiaogou, Chanpingou and opening new alpine routes in the area.

As far as the main objective is concerned the plan is to attempt a new line on the main wall of Siguniang NW, somewhere to the right (as facing the wall) of the ice line climbed in 2002 by Fowler and Ramsden. Our time frame is 3 to 25 February 2007. This will be the first ever winter attempt to climb the fourth peak of Siguniang shan which makes the challenge even greater. We intend to approach the wall in style big wall and we are looking at some mixed and ice climbing if reaching the serac that is looming over the face. The estimate height of the wall is over 1000m.


L’expédition est prévue sur 4 semaines au total pour une présence effective “ à pied d’oeuvre ” de 3 semaines , du 3 au 25 fevrier 2007. C’est la première tentative hivernale sur le Siguniang Shan , notre choix se porte sur l’ouverture d’une voie nouvelle, car c’est bien là l’objectif le plus motivant dans cette face qui offre encore de très nombreuses possibilités d’ouverture.

Our Sponsors

These companies and organisations are supporting our efforts:



Liviu and Esposito