Japanese climbers denied access to Bugyai Kangri in Tibet


Japanese climbing team says it was turned away by locals from attempting a first ascent of Bugyai Kangri (6,328m) despite having received official permission from the Chinese authorities.

The climbers, through the UIAA, want to raise awareness of permit issues in the sensitive border area in Tibet for other alpinists considering visiting the region.

According to Takao Ohe, lead climber of the five-member group from Tohoku University Alpine Club, the team had received formal approval for the July attempt from four official bodies and the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CMTA), but were refused access to the mountain by local police in the town SokXian.

Perspective of SokXian and the tributary of Nu-Jiang, where the local police stopped the team. (image: T.Aihara, July 25, 2009)

The local people objected to the climb because, as Ohe explained, they claimed the mountain was a holy one and had concerns about foreigners.

Don Changshen, former office director of CTMA, and Zhang Shaohong, Vice President of Sichuan Earth Expedition Inc, had helped them to arrange the logistics for the expedition in Tibet. They had organised local transport, accommodation and porters, as well as obtaining the permits, before leaving Japan.

Upon arrival in Tibet, the group completed all registration formalities for the Nakchu District, without problems, and travelled to SokXian by car and foot. It was only when they arrived in the village that they realised there were objections to their summit attempt.

After being refused access, the climbers were not allowed to continue further in the region, or even take pictures of the area. Reluctantly, the group returned to Nakchu to try to resolve the issue there but were unsuccessful.

The team met with the CTMA who apologised for not knowing that the locals considered the mountain holy. The group returned to Japan where they continued to investigate the decision and claim back their expenses.

A full report from the group can be found here.

Bugyai Kangri, 6,328m: located in the middle of Nakchu and Qamdo along the Sichuan-Tibet North Highway (Chuanzang Beilu). It belongs to the north end of Taniantaweng, Hengduan Shan in Nu Jiang (the Salween) basin, an independent plateau ranging 40km east to west, 20km north to south with no sharp peaks and massive presence.