Haba Xue Shan
|Difficulty:||Basic Snow/Ice Climb|
|Best months for climbing:||Jan, Feb, May, Jun, Oct, Nov, Dec|
|Nearest major airport:||Lijiang (Yunnan China)|
Thanks to Pascal Rechatin for adding this peak.
Haba Xue Shan (Haba Snow Mountain, ???? in chinese) lies 120 kilometers to the southeast of the Zhongdian county, and about 120 km north west of Lijiang in the Yunna province in China.
The world famous 'Tiger Leaping Gorge' (Hu Tiao Cha) is located between the Haba Snow Mountain and the Yulong Snow Mountain and forms a formidable 3800 m drop between those two mountains.
Haba Shan is very popular amongst chinese mountaineers and climbers as it is located in a beautiful region and represnets an ideal training peak for more serious expeditions.It is however very difficult to find reliable information on this peak in english and I hope this post will help you discover a beautiful region and give you the motivation to organise a trip to Haba Shan.
Haba Shan does not present any technical difficulties via its normal route apart from the need to be able to acclimatize to over 5000 m altitude and the need to have basic crampon walking skills as the snow/glacier slope at the very top is steep and could be dangerous if icy ( it was very easy when we made our climb as it was covered with pretty deep snow)
The basic itinerary for Haba Shan is as follows:
Day 1: Fly into Lijiang (2400m). Most flight come from Kunming the capital of Yunnan. These flights can be booked several weeks in advance during chinese vacations so be careful. Spend the night in Lijinag to enjoy this beautiful old town
Day 2: Drive from Lijiang to Haba cen ( Haba vilage) (2700m). This will take approximately 5 hours (Lijiang-Quiaoto-Haba Cen). The shortest road goes through the 'Tiger leaping gorges' and the road is absolutely fantastic but is very frequently cut by landslides so you will need to get some informations in Lijiang on the road state before getting on. The surest way to make it is to hire a 4 wheel drive as usually when the road is cut (which happens several times every month) the locals are within a few hours putting together a way through for 4W vehicle...forget it with a normal car. In case the gorges are really cut for a longer period the only option is to make a long detour via Zhongdian (Lijiang-Quiaoto-Zhongdian-Haba Cen) which will take about 9 hours....
Once in Haba Cen there are several basic hotels/restaurants on the main roads, if you get a little deeper into the village (going uphill) some of the villagers are ready to welcome visitors. You will need to speak a minimum of chinese as no one speaks english in the village.
Day 3: It is recommended to hire a guide as the paths are not marked and there are no maps of the area that we could find so finding your way to the Base camp can be very challenging. The walk to base camp will take 4 to 6 hours.You can also easily get horses to carry your stuff. The base camp is located at 4200 m at the edge of the forest with a very nice view on the mountain.A large hut has recently been built and 2 people seem to stay there at all time to provide warm food/drinks etc... these are still very basic facilities with sod floor and open walls. It is 'OK' to sleep on wooden planks but do not expect a nice alpes or rockies mountain shelter. Most people are getting up there with their tents and only use the shelter to do some cooking and take advantage of the fire. There is quite a lot of wood at the base camp so making fire is relatively easy.
Day 4: Several chinese web sites recommend to do a Camp 1 at 4900 m just before reaching the glacier, based on our experience, I would not recommend it as without being exceptional athletes we were successfull ( just like many chinese parties) to do the base camp -summit and down in one day. However it seems advisable ( unless you are already altitude adjusted) to spend one day in base camp to acclimatize which is what we did.
Day 5: The normal route to the top follows the huge grey slab (no path) on the left of the mountain (seen from base camp) that has been left by retreating glaciers, you then reach a series of morainic hills and ridges that you follow (note a basic path becomes visible in this section) until you reach the glacier at about 4950. The way to the top is then very straightforward, going up directly on a large snow/ice slope allows you to reach the final ridge to the left of the summit and close to what the chinese call 'the wave' because of the shape of the ridge right before the top . You then follow the ridge and will reach the top about 30-40 mn later. It took us 6 hours from base camp to reach the top and 2.5 hours to get back to base camp.
Thanks to Pascal Rechatin for this description.