Minya Gongga Mountain
Meaning "the Highest Snow Mountain" in Tibetan language, Gongga Shan is located at the east fringe of the Tibetan Plateau, the middle section of Daxue Shan in the Hengduan Shan System which is between the Dadu River and the Yalong River. Some 60 kilometers from the south to the north and about 30 kilometers from the east to the west, Gongga Shan has its main peak of 7556 meters in height at 101.8'E and 29.6'N between the four counties of Kangding, Luding, Shimian and Jiulong in Sichuan Province.
The frequent movement of geological structure in the Gongga area brings about a lot of folds and fractures. As the mountain rises, valleys are formed with a height difference of approaching 5000 meters on the east and west slopes of the river. Four main ridges stand on the main peak of Gongga Shan: the Northwest Ridge, the Northeast, the Southwest Ridge and the Southeast Ridge. As the rocks here are chiefly consisted of granites and due to the long-time effect of ice corrosion and cutting, there appear narrow ridges like sloping knife blades, steep slope walls and uncovered rocks, among which the slopes are almost all beyond 70'.
Teamed with more than 20 nearby high peaks of over 6000 meters, Gongga Shan area is a center of high peaks in the Hengduan Shan System. Totaling 290 square kilometers, about 45 glaciers in the mountain area are mainly composed of valley glaciers while hanging glaciers and cirque glaciers dot here and there. Of the five glaciers of 10 kilometers in length, the longest proves to be the Hailuogou (Conck Dithch) Glacier, the famous park of glaciers in our country where all spectacular wonders of glaciers are displayed, among which the great ice cataract, more than 1000 meters long and wide, manifests the most magnificent view. Because of the climate here and the violent movement of the Gongga Shan Glaciers, the glaciers find their lowest end at 2600 meters above sea level. The valleys and slopes below the neve snowline are blanketed by dense primitive forests where plants of various shapes and colors with over 40 precious kinds exist. Moreover, over 400 alpine animals and forest animals are living in the paradise of the wild lives - the primitive forests. Besides, many hot springs scatter in many places on the Active Fracture Belt of the mountains where facilities of tourist service are available.
Characteristic of highland climate of temperate zone and subtropical zone, the climate undergoes rather great changes and the rainy season comes each year in the months from June to October and the dry season in those from November to May of the next year. With the annual precipitation at 800-900 mm, the heaviest rainfall is in the three months of July, August and September. In summer, there is thick cloudiness; even in a single day the temperature greatly varies. In an area of over 6000 meters above sea level, the air temperature sometimes goes down to 20'C below zero. In the dry season, its is sunny and even more temperate than in the other areas at the same latitude, April and May being the hottest in a year. Mountaineering activities are advisable in the transitional period of the dry and rainy seasons.
Long time ago, Gongga Shan began to hold the attention of the world. As early as the year of 1878, an Austrian became the first to go to the mountain for fact-finding investigation. At the beginning of the 30's in this century, a Swiss went there for the same purpose. In 1935, the American Mountaineering Team succeeded for the first time in the attempt to reach the summit. On June 13, 1957, a Mountaineering Team of 6 persons organized by All-China Federation of Trade Unions (the predecessor of the Chinese Mountaineering Team), led by the team leader Shi Zhanchun, surmounted the main peak along the west slope and then the northwest ridge. The 6 members are Shixiu Zhelianman, Liu Dayi, Peng Zhongmu, Guo De as well as Shi Zhan.
The route line to the mountain. Drive for 474 kilometers from Chengdu along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway through Ya'an and Kangding to Liuba. After riding on horse-back from Liuba through Muju to Zimei, you will find yourself at the mountaineering base campsite in the Gongga Temple on the south side of Gongga Shan. Another route brings you south from Luding through Moxi and Hailuogou to Yanzigou (Swallow Ditch), and in the end to the southeast and northeast sides of Gongga Shan.