British climbers Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden recently returned from a four week trip to the Chinese Tien Shan range. This region contains many virgin summits between 5000 and 7000 meters. On their trip the pair made the first ascent of the North Face of Sulamar (5380m) in the Xuelian massif as well as exploring the Chulebos range with a view to further new routes in the future.
Fowler and Ramsden took six days to climb and descend Sulamar. Their route on the central buttress of the North Face involved well over 1000m of steep mixed terrain and two hanging/sitting bivies. They felt the route grade was TD+ and they climbed, as always, alpine style.
Exploring the untouched Chulebos Range after their route on Sulamar they encountered more fine objectives. The Chulebos Range had traditionally been negotiated via the Xiate trail, a famous trade route. There is little traffic now due to the broken nature of the glaciers however this did not deter the pair and it is likely that plans are afoot to return for some of the lines that were spied.
When interviewed on Planet Mountain Fowler commented:
"the great thing about China is that there are so many unclimbed and unknown mountaineering objectives in interesting and rarely visited areas. Chinese mountaineers have historically focused exclusively on 8000m peaks with the result that there are whole areas of 5000m - 7000m peaks that have never been visited by mountaineers. Special permits are often required and the bureaucratic challenges are high - but I view that as adding to the challenge and it keeps the crowds away!"
To read the full interview with Mick Fowler visit
For more information on Sulamar, climbing in the Xuelian Range and the surrounding regions visit
Mick Fowler will be giving lectures throughout the UK in November and October 2010. For information on dates and destinations visit