Top Japanese alpinists Fumitaka Ichimura, Ryo Masumoto and Takaaki Nagato have made the first ascent of the East Face of Daddomain (6,380m) in China's Minya Konka Range.
The three originally planned to attempt a direct ascent of the imposing East Face of Mount Edgar, climbed up its left side last year by Kyle Dempster and Bruce Normand, an ascent that was nominated for the 2011 Piolets d'Or.
After setting up base camp, the three Japanese endured 10 days of solid bad weather, before heading up in drizzle for a reconnaissance.
Unable to see the face clearly, they returned, but on the way were fortunate to catch a glimpse of Daddomain at the head of the valley. They were immediately captivated and decided to go for this instead.
After establishing an advanced base at 4,100m, day one on the route saw them cross the rimaye at 4,400m, and climb the central couloir to a bivouac at 5,450m - a small ledge cut out of the snow that allowed only room for sitting.
Next day the weather worsened but the three continued their ascent, mostly over soft snow but with the occasional section of vertical ice. After a very long day they bivouacked at 5,950m, keeping boots on inside their sleeping bags.
The following day it snowed heavily. The three climbed for five and a half hours to reach 6,100m, a little below the summit ridge. Here, a serac provided shelter and they decided to stop early.
On day four they set out at 9.30am for the summit, but conditions were too dangerous, so they returned to the bivouac.
Day five saw a return to better weather. However, deeming the slopes above to be still too avalanche prone, they decided to sit tight, hoping things would settle.
The following morning they started at 7am in perfect weather, climbed to the summit ridge and continued to the top, arriving at 9.25am. That same day they descended the route, making 15 rappels, to arrive safely back at advanced base.
The 1,900m climb (no grades forthcoming at present) has been named Ame ni mo Makezu, which roughly translates as 'don't lose out to the rain'. It is taken from a famous poem by the Japanese Kenji Miyazawa, and was chosen to convey sympathy and greetings to all those that suffered in the earthquake and tsunami.
Daddomain's one and only previous ascent was made in 2004 by New Zealanders Jo Kippax and Sean Waters, who climbed the West Ridge.
Ichimura is one of the most prolific of young Japanese alpinists. In Alaska he has climbed a new route on Mt Huntington, made the third ascent of Denali Diamond, a new route on the North Face of Broken Tooth, new routes on Bradley, Church and Johnson in the Ruth Gorge, and the incredible link up of the Isis Face and Slovak Route on Denali. In Bolivia he put up hard new lines on the South Face of Illimani, and in the Himalaya made a new route on Pharilapcha, and the first ascents of the north faces of Tawoche and Kalanka. The latter was awarded a Piolet d'Or in 2009.
In 2010 Masumoto and Nagato climbed a new route on the West Face of Pt 2,256m, and another on the North Face of Mt Church, both in the Ruth Gorge, before moving across to Denali and making the first free ascent of Denali Diamond on the huge South Face of Denali in an 80-hour push.
Thanks to Hiroshi Hagiwara for help with this report