Banji Feng is the first major peak to be developed for year-round alpine mountaineering from the Bipeng Gou Valley. Officially, Bipeng Valley is part of the Miyalo Scenic area. The Bipeng Valley was selected in 2001 by the Lixian (Li County) Government for develpment as a mountain tourism destination and a 30 km road into the valley was completed in 2003 to give easier access to the surrounding high peaks. Because of the steepness of the upper canyon, the only settlements of local Tibetans are at the very lower end of the valley near the highway. Most of the streams and drainages from the high peaks do not have foot trails.
There is a small visitor center at the end of the road which provides little more than shelter and basic food and boiled water. Campers usually set up their tents in the two metal buldings at the end of the road. One buildings has tables for meals and a primitive kitchen. You will not find much there in the way of services anytime other than two main Chinese holidays(the weeks around May 1st and Oct. 1st). EDIT: the care takers have built a wooden house and guest house behind the main buildings at Shanghaizi. There is enough space for 20 people; beds were RMB40/day including two meals. This makes staying there, especially in winter, much more comfortable.
Banji has two main summits: Banji Peak and Banji North. They are separated by an airy knife-edge ridge that, to my knowledge, has not yet been traversed. Banji North has not been summited as of Spring 2006 so I do not have an accurate elevation. The north wall of Banji North has all the makings for a classic north wall climb: up to 800m high with varied climbing mostly on steep, often slabby, rock. There are two glaciers on Banji North: on the east of the basin a vertical alpine ice call and a lower angle angle that hangs over the north west shoulder of the ridgeline below the peak.
From the trailhead at the end of the road at Shanghaizi, you can hike an additional 5 miles to the head of the valley and over the passes to both Changping Gou (4600 M) and Shuangqiao Gou (4900). Both very strenuous hikes providing stunning alpine vistas.
A guiding company out of Chengdu, Renji ( www.aaic.com.cn - I will ask them to add English to their menues so you can at least find the photos from the climb, they are awsome) has been working with the local government to promote climbing as a main draw into the area. Renji intends to base its climbing school in the Bipeng Valley and to use this as a base to further develop climbing on the many peaks in this and nearby valleys.
There are many peaks over 5000 m with the tallest reaching above 5900 m, making it the second highest in the region after the 4th Sister of Siguniang. Few peaks have even been named yet alone climbed. This should keep local and international climbers interested in first ascents busy for many years. You can see from the photos there are many steep north faces on classicly shaped peaks now accessible from Bipeng Valley.
Banji Feng is the first peak with significant glaciation near the access road. We can expect much development on the mountain via the approach to the glacier from the Shanghai Zi Reception Center, directly west of the peak. This page will begin emphasizing this side of the mountain.
Exploratory climbing on Banji North began in early 2006 with a FA by Cosmin Andron and Bob Keaty on the unclimbed north face.
Total driving time from Chengdu is 4.5 to 6 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. Drive northwest from Chengdu towards Dujiangyan then take highway 317 towards Wenchuan and Maerkang. About 15 km west of Lixian, turn south into the lower Bipeng Valley. 10 Km up the road you come to a turn-off and a toll gate for Bipeng Valley Scenic Area (elevation 2259). Continue up the road, past the reception center 13.7 km beyond the gate for another 15 km to a white metal building with blue roof at Shanghai Zi (3500 m). Banji Feng's west flank and glacier are situated directly to the east.
You may choose to stay one night at the Guer Gou Hot Springs Resort located 15.7km west of the Bipeng turnoff on highway 317 or at one of the roadside hotels in Lixian town. Budget accomodations only.
You are required to pay a fee of RMB 70 (US$ 8) when you enter the valley.
When To Climb
Banji Feng can be climbed year-round with the most stable weather during the coldest months of January and February. climbing is also good in September and October but the weather is less predictable. Due to the high elevation, you can expect snow storms at anytime of year. The amount of snow accumulation will be the biggest variable through the year.
March through May are the biggest snow accumulation months and make the approach up to the glaciers more strenuous. The first ascent of Banji was done in early May, the second in early October. The first attempt at Banji North was done in January.
Summer months can be rainy at lower elevations making the path up to C1/C2 slick so bring good rain gear.
Most people pitch tents inside the Shanghai Zi Reception Center. In addition to keeping your gear dry, it is also marginally warmer in the buildings. You can also rent a bed in the caretaker's guest house just behind the activity center buildings - space is limited.
You will need to set up at least two camps on the mountian. There is a slight fee for entering and camping in the valley.
There are no telephone connections beyond the very bottom of Bipeng Valley. Mobile phones do not work either; satelite phones are necessary if you need to keep-in-touch. There are electricity generators at both the reception center and at Shanghaizi but are turned on only in the evening, but not according to any schedule.
- Banji Feng FA
Chinese site with good photos and route description. I will ask them to translate their menues into English.