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Kajaqiao (6447m) is an orgasmic peak: nearly 6500 meters high and
gorgeous all around. In 2004 we failed at the bureaucratic permit
hurdle, but the wait was worthwhile. The mountain is visible from the
distance as an eye-catching peak that dominates the Yarlung Tsangpo
river valley. It is much revered by the locals–the name means “Pray to
Buddha Mountain”–who felt that snow would come if we were successful.

In October, Chris Watts–my partner on Taulliraju, twenty-three years
earlier–and I climbed a 1100-meter route on the West Face/Northwest
Ridge in six days up and three down. The climbing was not incredibly
desperate, but the perspective it offered on surrounding unclimbed peaks
and the remote mountaineering atmosphere were remarkable. We also had
lots of memorable action: about a meter and a half of snow fell while we
were on the route (covering some interesting slabs); Chris got stuck in
a snow hole at one point, and I got bowled down a slope in a tent. It
was seriously windy and wild in the upper areas (we guessed the
temperatures at BC got down to perhaps -15 degrees F: the eggs were frozen
solid). We reached the summit at 6:30 p.m. on October 31, necessitating
a cold abseil in the dark to regain our last bivouac.

During the same time period, Adam Thomas and Phil Amos attempted the
stunning Manamcho (ca. 6300m). They reached 5900 meters on a ridge
reminiscent of the Matterhorn’s Hornli Ridge (except this one was made
of really good red granite) before retreating in the face of the cold,
grim weather. The trip was one of the best mountaineering ventures I’ve
been on.

Mick Fowler, London, England