Camel mountain is in the Siguniang Scenic Mountain Area, it is located on the ridge that forms the upper basin at the north end of Changping Valley and at the southern end of Bipeng valley just where Bipeng turns towards the west. The pass between Changping and Bipeng valleys is said to be one of the most beautiful treks in all of China taking you through a concentration of high granite spires forming formidable peaks and blank rock faces, most of which are still awaiting their first ascents. Camel Mountain is the second 5000 m peak to the east of the pass; just beyond Camel Mountain to the northeast is the awe inspiring pyramidshaped summit massive of Yangmantai (Fattening Sheep Plateau).
Most people see the Camel's peaks first from the Mulozi meadows at the base of the northwest face of the fourth sister of Siguniang; it was this face that saw Nick Fowler and Paul Ramsden’s fabled ascent in the spring of 2002. Camel mountain was named by the locals because the symmetry of its twin peaks reminded them of a camel. It still has not been determined which peak is higher so we refer to them as Camel East and Camel West for the time being. There is a spectacular high glacier in the saddle between the peaks that extends down to 4800 m both on the north and south sides.
Less often visited, but probably more spectacular, is the north side of Camel Mountain which is approached via Bipeng Valley. The north face of West Camel Peak has a long hanging glacier that slants up the face for 600 m ending just a few hundred meters below the summit. I am not sure if the Camel Peaks have been climbed from the north but they are presently high on my tick list.
You can get to Camel Mountain either via Rilong Village and the Changping Valley or through Lixian and the Bipeng Valley. Both routes require a 5-hour bus ride from Chengdu. The road to Rilong goes over Balang Pass at 4200 m and can be impassable after snowstorms, no busses leave for the pass after noon. The road to Lixian stays in a valley and is passable year-round.
Rilong offers much more in the way of accommodations, guides and restaurants and this is the route most visitors take. The best way to approach the peaks is on horseback up the Changping Valley. Due to the amount of horse traffic up the valley the trail has become eroded and muddy making walking difficult. We finished the ride to Mulozi in about 4 hours, it is another 1.5 hours to the base of Camel Mountain.
From Lixian, you travel 15 km further west on the highway towards Maerkang before turning off left (south) into the Bipeng Valley Scenic Area. Rent a van to take you as high as possible into the valley, the Shanghaizi Activity Center. You can either stay in tents in the metal buildings, or better yet, stay with the caretaker family who have build a wooden house complete with guest rooms for 20 travelers behind the other buildings. You can see Camel Mountain from the activity center and a 2-3 hour hike takes you to the foot of the pass to Changping Valley and the base of the mountain.
Camping & Ticket
There are plenty of tent sites all along the Changping and Bipeng valleys, or you can choose to stay at the hut at Mulozi or shanghaiZi. there is a slight fee for putting up a tent in valley.
There is an admission fee for entering the valleys of between RMB30 (Bipeng Valley during the low season) and RMB100 for Changping Valley. There are also charges for climbing the peaks.
When To Climb
The mountain can be climbed year-round but the weather is most stable during the colder months of January/February. Snow accumulation is heaviest in March through June and the passes can have deep snow into July. Later summer and early fall months temd to be rainy and unstable.
The area sees the most foot traffic during the Oct. 1st and May 1st national holidays. Outside of these times, and especially during the winter months, it is possible you will be alone in the valley except for local herders.