A photo of an iconic spire towering over an idyllic Tibetan village showed up in a Wechat climbing groupchat in summer 2016, and Ola soon began researching the area. She first recruited Beijing-based, prolific first ascentionist Chuan He, and later myself, to join her, and we ventured to explore the limestone peaks of Zhagana in May of last year. Located in southern Gansu province, in the foothills of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, Zhagana is a quaint alpine village sitting at 2800m and surrounded by a natural fortress of alpine limestone walls. While mostly still off the standard tourism radar, the area is becoming increasingly popular with Chinese tourists in recent years. The villagers we met were welcoming and fascinated by our climbing aspirations and infinitely curious to see pictures from the wall and summit. We opened two routes on the south face of the main peak, Zhawuduo. The first route, 'Welcome to Zhagana' (300m, 5.10+ A1), took the easiest route we could find up an intermittent crack and corner system on often poor or sparse trad gear, with the occasional bolt in runout sections, and bolted anchors. The second route, bolted on rappel, was according to Ola, less stressful with really enjoyable climbing, dubbed 'Gate to Asgard' (300m, 5.12a). Ola and Chuan freed the route on their first attempt. In the image, Ola is following Pitch 6 of Gate to Asgard high above Zhagana village in the background. .
Ola Przybysz (@przybyszola) has been a driving force in China’s climbing community for many years. Originally from Poland, she moved to Beijing in 2007 to study Chinese and within a few years immersed herself in the local climbing scene. Over the years, she's frequented the podium in Chinese climbing comps, climbed first ascents and developed new routes all over the country. She says, “winning comps doesn’t feel that special to me, but developing routes; exploring places that are still untouched—it just feels way more important.” Read Ola’s full story, ‘Just Do it', written by Michael Levy (@odm_2.0) in Climbing's current issue. Photo by @garrettlbradley
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