Mt. Namcha Barwa

  • Mt. Namcha Barwa
  • Mt. Namcha Barwa
  • Mt. Namcha Barwa
  • Mt. Namcha Barwa
  • Mt. Namcha Barwa
  • Mt. Namcha Barwa

Namcha Barwa (officially: Namjag Barwa; Tibetan in Wylie transliteration: gnam lcags 'bar ba; Chinese: 南迦巴瓦峰, Pinyin: Nánjiābāwǎ Fēng) is a mountain in the Tibetan Himalaya. It forms the eastern anchor of the Himalayan chain, and is the easternmost mountain in the world over 7,600 metres.

Namcha Barwa is located in the Nyingchi Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. It sits inside the "Great Bend" of the Tsangpo River, the main river of southeastern Tibet. This is a very obscure region, rarely visited by outsiders. Its sister peak Gyala Peri (also over 7,000 metres) lies across the Tsangpo to the north.

Notable features:
In addition to its role as the eastern anchor of the Himalayas, Namcha Barwa is notable for its great local relief. It towers over the Tsangpo gorge, which curves from the west, through the north, and then to the east side of the mountain. For example, the drop from the summit to the river on the west side is 5,000 metres in 12 kilometres, while the drop to the river on the east side is 6,800 metres in about 30 kilometres.

Also, between 1976 and its first ascent in 1992, Namcha Barwa was the highest unclimbed independent mountain in the world. (Batura Sar, 7,795 metres, climbed in 1976, was the previous record holder.)

Frank Kingdon-Ward was the first Westerner to penetrate the deepest gorges of Pemakö, chronicled in his 1925 tome Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges. In his 1994 "Tibet Handbook" Hongkong-born Victor Chan describes the extremely difficult trek from Pemakö Chung to the power-place and beyul of Gonpo Ne, one of the most remote spots on earth. A modern journey by Ian Baker and his National Geographic-sponsored team to Pemakö received book-length treatment his 1994 book The Heart of the World.

Kingdon-Ward may have presaged the effects of global warming some 85 years ago when describing "a quaint prophecy among the Kongbo Tibetans that Namche Barwa will one day fall into the Tsangpo gorge and block the river, which will then turn aside and flow over the Doshong La [pass]. This is recorded in a book by some fabulous person whose image may be seen in the little gompa [monastery] at Payi, in Pome. "

Climbing history:
Namcha Barwa was first accurately located in 1912 by British surveyors. The area saw little activity by outsiders between 1913 and the 1980s. In the 1980s, several Chinese teams made serious efforts on the peak, and scouted multiple routes, but did not succeed in reaching the summit.

In 1990 a joint Japanese-Chinese expedition reconnoitered the peak, and another joint expedition made an attempt in 1991, which reached 7460m but resulted in the death of one member, Hiroshi Onishi, in an avalanche. The following year, a third Japanese-Chinese expedition succeeded in reaching the summit. They established Base Camp on September 14, and reached the summit on October 30, after placing six camps. Their route followed the South Ridge, over the intermediate Naipun Peak. Eleven members of the expedition reached the summit, all but the expedition co-leader, Tsuneo Shigehiro.

The Himalayan Index lists no other ascents of this peak.