Where ice is nice

By Zhou Xin/Zhang Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-17 10:46
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The summit descent starts against sun-bathed magnificence. [PHOTO BY ZHOU XIN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

A glacier atop Sichuan's Banji Peak is luring a growing number of amateur mountaineers。

The glacier that crowns the 5,430-meter-high Banji Peak in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture isn't far from Sichuan province's capital, Chengdu, but has long remained difficult to access.

It has long been a destination for professional mountaineers but not for ordinary people-until recently, that is.

The growth of outdoor-adventure tours and the standardization of relevant clubs have made the ice giant an ideal place for newbie climbers, since it's easy enough to ascend for amateur climbers with on-site training.

Training and equipment are required for those who hope to tackle Banji and are provided at the base camp in Bipenggou.

Expeditions also require a team leader, and every climber must have a partner.

Climbers also get tips on managing altitude sickness, crossing the anchor point's rope road, dodging falling rocks and the like.

High-altitude snow-mountain climbing is very different from ascents at lower elevations. Small problems can become major catastrophes.

It takes three days starting from base camp at 3,570 meters above sea level to summit C1 at 4,290 meters and C2 at 4,625 meters. Teams return to base camp from the peak in about 11 hours.

They spend about six hours a day climbing for the first two days, as they adapt to the high altitudes.

It's a test of physical and mental strength. Those who undertake the challenge are rewarded with spectacular views of the frozen, desolate landscape.

Indeed, ascending snowcaps is punishing. But it's about more than conquering a towering peak. It's also about appreciating nature's sublimity.

That makes it worth the hardships and risks to those who undertake the journeys.

The story by Zhou Xin is translated by Zhang Lei.

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