Freelance mountain guide and climber James Monypenny recently led an expedition to the Genyen Massif in China’s Sechuan province and has returned to tell the tale of several successful climbs. The primary object of the expedition was the previously unclimbed Hutsa, a triangular 5863 metre peak Monypenny described as “romantic idealism.”
“This perfect, pointy peak sat right in the middle of a mountain range,” Monypenny told the BMC, part-funders of the expedition. “Surrounded by thousands of cairns that Buddhist monks built up on pilgrimages, it had an air of mystery about it, too.”
Peter Linney, Tom Nichols and Robert Partridge joined Monypenny for the scenic trip to base camp. Italians Luca Vallata and Tito Arosio also joined the party, but set out as a pairing to climb a nearby 5912 metre peak while Monypenny and co laid siege to Hutsa.
Climbing in two sets of pairs – Monypenny and Linney, Nichols and Partridge – the team set about looking for a feasible line on Hutsa that was also “technically interesting.” They got all that they’d bargained for and more on the first pitch, with little protection and mixed conditions so unstable Monypenny noted that “rocks were coming away in my hands and ice axes.”
Conditions were so poor that Nichols and Linny elected to turn around, but James and Rob ploughed on. “Neither of us saw a reason to go down,” Monypenny noted, “even though every pitch looked difficult from below, and provided constant doubt about whether we would summit.”
Hutsa certainly didn’t make things easy. When the climbers finally pushed past the unstable rock they encountered ice that wasn’t solid enough to place reliable protection. Fortunately, the pair’s ice tools continued to bite and the terrain eventually eased into “lovely ice and mixed climbing of around M5,” allowing Monypenny and Partridge to place the first human footprints into Hutsa’s summit snows.
Remarkably, Monypenny wasn’t content with a first ascent of Hutsa. Paired with Peter Linney he ascended Hutsa for a second time via a different line, named Holographic Jesus and described by James as “850m of technical, run-out, thin ice, overhanging bulges and long pitches of water ice.” The climb culminated in an awkward chimney that Monypenny had to “push the boat out a bit to climb.”
All in all, it was a productive trip. Vallata and Arosio took three days to summit their 5912 metre peak. Sticking mostly to snow fields and ridges the Italians’ estimated the highest grade of difficulty they encountered at M4. Monypenny noted that there are plenty of other unclimbed peaks in the Genyen Massif. Those interested in the area would do well to check out Rob Partridge’s excellent photo diary of the trip.