First-class Italian mountaineering in China: the Mount Edgar report

After the first fragmentary news, François Cazzanelli now relates the expedition to Mount Edgar (6618 m) in the Nanmengou Valley in Sichuan in China which included Francesco Ratti, Emrik Favre, Tomas Franchini, Matteo Faletti and Fabrizio Dellai. Italian mountaineers have successfully established many routes, including the first ascent of the west face of Mount Edgar (Franchini, solo), the first ascent of the NW face, and a repeat of the original route first climbed in 2003 by a Korean expedition.

We are not avid collectors, but where we were and everything was unexplored: the mountains around our base camp had no name and were unknown on the few somewhat rough maps of the area. Each route we traveled was not only a discovery, an exploration and another adventure, it was also a first ascent made by our group composed by Emrik Favre, François Cazzanelli and Francesco Ratti from Valle d’Aosta and Tomas Franchini , Matteo Faletti and Fabrizio Dellai from Trentino Alto Adige.

After facing the various logistical complications related to a stay in China of more than 30 days, and the difficulties of doing business with our agency, we finally managed to set up base camp at an altitude of 3850 m in the valley of Nanmengou. We dreamed of Mount Edgar, a severe, difficult and insidious mountain 6618m high and climbed only twice before, once in 2003 and once in 2011. The Trentino team planned to climb the East Ridge while the Valle d’Aosta team wanted to try the western ridge of the mountain.

The first day after our arrival, we started our exploration / acclimatization phase by establishing 2 new routes on two unclimbed mountains: happy birthday toni up to a peak we called Little Edgar (5060m) and welcome to the jungle at the top of a spire that we nicknamed Joël Deanoz (5030 m).

After a few days we decided to check out the conditions and the approach to the west face of Mount Edgar; this would prove important for the ascent planned by the Valle d’Aosta team and for the descent route planned by the Trentino team. Access to the glacier turned out to be quite complicated and it took us 12 hours to climb from our base camp up to 5200m. We had to equip the course which threaded its way between seracs, compact slabs and steep slopes but at the end of the day we planted our ABC, “Campo degli Italiani” in a fantastic setting.

The next day we continued the acclimatization by climbing the pass which separates Mount Edgar from a virgin peak which we quickly climbed and called Twenty Shan (6174 m). During the night, Tomas decided to venture alone, on the unclimbed west face of Mount Edgar, illuminated by the light of the full moon. He climbed a system of ravines and reached, not without difficulty, the final ridge. Light snow led to the summit, reached at 6:15. This is only the third ascent of Mount Edgar and he called his route The power of the Moon.

After that we spent a few days at lower elevations exploring rocky peaks and pillars. The Trentino team climbed Tridente Trentino, Peter Shan, Leonhard Shan, Campanile dei Pensieri. The Valle d’Aosta team turned to Melckrin Shan and made the first ascent of the Pillar Gérard Ottavio and the Shan Valley.

Taking advantage of a small window of good weather, Cazzanelli, Ratti and Favre required two efforts to climb the Tre Sorelle ridge and stand on three virgin peaks: Punta Barbara 5700 m, Punta Elisabetta 5800 m and Punta Patrizia 5900 m, whose name François gave to his mother and his aunts. At this point we were set, ready, acclimatized and time seemed to be on our side

On October 17, 17, Tomas, Matteo and Bicio set off on the east ridge of Mount Edgar but their attempt stops at 5800 m. The line proving too complicated and dangerous, they abandoned the climb and decided to leave the project open for future parties. During this time, François, Emrik and Francesco attempt the northwest ridge and stop 150 m from the main summit, on the first of the two rock pillars that characterize this ridge. We decided to call this pillar Pillar of Hope (6450 m). Unfortunately, due to ledges similar to those found in Patagonia, we were unable to continue to the summit of Mount Edgar, and after a 15 hour day and over 25 rappels, we returned to base camp in the noir.

A few days were spent at base camp to clear ideas and recuperate. In the meantime, winter has set in, it has started to snow and temperatures have dropped. We decided to play our last map and, when a small weather window appeared, we split into two teams: Faletti, Cazzanelli and Franchini who wanted to try to climb a new route to the NW face of Edgar, while Favre, Dellai and Ratti chose to rush to the summit via the Korean route in 2003.

Despite a difficult night in our high camp exposed to strong gusts of wind, we all left in the dark early the next morning. We were lucky and at 1:00 p.m. we all reached the top! A team reached the climax via a new route called Colpo Final while the others joined them after following the South Ridge. Clockwork precision! Incredible. Tired but immensely satisfied, we descended to high camp and celebrated with an excellent bombardino liqueur we had brought from Italy.

We had a fantastic experience, in a valley “everything for us”, a real adventure in unexplored mountains … we climbed and discovered a new corner of the world and managed to climb Mount Edgar, a complicated mountain, difficult and dangerous in every way… we spent 40 days together, immersed in nature… what more could you ask for?!

by Francois Cazzanelli

The Trentino team would like to thank: The Sportswoman, Rock Empire, Millet, Blue Ice, Beal, Level, Bliz, Lizard, Leki, Treck’n Eat.
The Aosta Valley team would like to thank: Salewa, SCARPE, Grivel, Cébé, Nuova Auto Alpina, Mello’s, Ice bag.

Little Edgar 5060 m, Buon compleanno Toni, Fabrizio Dellai, Matteo Faletti, Tomas Franchini 01/10/2017
Joël Deanoz 5030 m – Welcome to the Jungle
Twenty Shan 6174 m – François Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre, Tomas Franchini 06/10/2017
Monte Edgar West Face – The Moon’s Power, Tomas Franchini, solo, 07/10/2017
Campanile dei Pensieri 4850 m, Animals, Tomas Franchini, 20/10/2017
Il Pillier Gérard Ottavio, Via Meteopatia, François Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre, Francesco Ratti 09/10/2017
Cresta Delle Tre Sorelle, Punta Barbara 5700 m, Punta Elisabetta 5800 m, Punta Patrizia 5900 m. François Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre, Francesco Ratti 12-14/10/2017
Shan Valley 5645 m – Le Pieds Gelées, François Cazzanelli, Francesco Ratti 15/10/2017
NW ridge of Monte Edgar, Pillar of Hope 6450 m François Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre, Francesco Ratti 19/10/2017
Edgar NW Face, Colpo Finale, François Cazzanelli, Matteo Faletti, Tomas Franchini, 25/10/2017