AAI Guide Aidan Loehr just called in on a sat phone to report that he completed a solo ascent of the West Ridge of Dogonomba (19,550') in the Sichuan Province of China yesterday.
AAI guide Andy Bourne -- an expert on the climbing history of the area -- believes this to be a first ascent of the route. The only recorded attempts on the West Ridge of the mountain were made by an AAI team in 2005 and then again earlier this season.
Aidan found the lower part of the mountain to be difficult. One must climb up an incredibly loose and exposed fourth-class ridge while keeping an eye out for rockfall from above.
Once he was on the snow and ice, the route became quite moderate. He worked his way up 30-40 degree snow slopes until he reached the summit ridge. At that point he was required to traverse sixty-degree snow on a corniced ridge. Aidan indicated that the snow was quite bad at "inappropriate times." Snow conditions on the upper mountain made the traverse incredibly cruxy and extremely dangerous.
The summit of the mountain was unbelievably small. Aidan stated that, "I had to kneel on the tippy top of the mountain because it was so tiny. If I stood up and the wind blew, I would have been blown off and they would never find me."
We are all very excited by Aidan's accomplishment and look forward to hearing more details and seeing his photos.
--Jason D. Martin