Gangshika is the main peak of the Qilian mountain range, which separates Qinghai and Gansu provinces. The easy access, high altitude, and only moderately technical climbing makes it a popular mountain for climbers from the Xining and elsewhere in China.
This is a mountain to do only if you're already in the area, most likely. But in general: Regular flights from Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Urumuqi and other cities to Xining （西宁）. Already at 2200m!
Bus or arrange a car to the town of Qingshizui (青石嘴). This is not far from the city of Menyuan (门源) in Haibei county (海北).
The normal route is quite straightforward, and most teams now do it in two days, if you're already up on the plateau.
Travel: Xining to Qingshizui on the plateau (3200m). About 2 hrs drive. You could stay in this little town to acclimitize and get supplies, or head straight in and make a base camp as described below.
Drive to Gangshika Snow Mountain spot -- there is a small glacier toe at the parking, called the 'Seven Colors Waterfall' for the algae that sometimes grows on it. Already 3700m, and only 30min from Qingshizui.
Hike up the obvious trail to a grassy section, then follow the numerous red flags marking the rocky trail to another grassy flat section around 4100m. Here there is a stream and you can optionally make camp if coming straight from Xining.
Continue up the rock to the beginning of the glacier ~4300m, head up to an large flat rocky section directly below a ~300m round hill. This is the traditional Camp 1 4600m. You can identify it positively by the mass of trash all around. If acclimatized, no more than 3 hrs from parking to C1.
Day 2: Up the hill to the flat, crevassed foot of the main peak 4800m. A large prominant rock band runs almost the whole length of the main peak. Right of the rock appears to be the most common choice; left works as well. The rock is crap and essentially unprotectable. Snow is never steeper than 60°, usually more like 40°. To the top! About 3 hrs if moving well.
Descent: Back down the snow/ice, using Abalakovs and down climbing, appears to be the typical descent. We went down via the north ridge, both for a more interesting route and also to enjoy being up high for longer.
The route could certainly be done car-to-car in a day by a motivated team.
Keywords for Chinese readers:
While there is no red tape for the mountain (no fee, no permit required), Haibei County is currently restricted for foreigners. You need a special permit to transit and stay in the county. Unless this changes, few foreigners are likely to get a chance to climb this beautiful mountain!
When to Climb
May - July, August-September. Has been climbed in winter.
See route description.
Trip reports in Chinese
Useful with lots of photos:
New Year's Day ascent:
Snowy September ascent: