Beautiful Meili Snow Mountain and Its Virgin Peaks

The Meili Snow Mountain, also known as the Prince Snow Mountains, is located deep in the Tibetan Plateau foothills, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of Deqin County Town, which is about 4 hours’ driving from Shangri-La, Yunnan Province. The area is a land of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists. In the 1930s, it was praised by American scholars as “the most beautiful mountain in the world”.

The video below was taken recently by Mr. Chen Zhi during his trip to the Meili region in August 2021. “I will never forget the beauty and majesty of the Meili Snow Mountains,” said Mr. Chen.

There are 13 peaks with an average altitude of over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) in the Meili Snow Mountains range, lined up north to south, referred to as the 13 Prince Peaks.

The main peak, Kawagebo, which is 6,740 meters (22,110 feet) above sea level, is the highest peak in Yunnan Province. So far, it is still a virgin peak: no one has climbed to the summit.

Meili Snow Mountain has received significant attention from climbers due to attempts by Japan and the United States. The first attempt to climb Kawagebo, was the Japan’s Joetsu Alpine Club in 1987, followed by the Academic Alpine Club of Kyoto University (AACK). In late 1990, AACK and a joint Chinese expedition attempted the summit from the east side. In January 1991, the climbers were hit by an avalanche during the night. The camp disappeared and all 17 climbers were killed.

From November to December 1996, AACK again challenged the mountain to the summit, but remained unsuccessful. Meanwhile, an American mountaineering team led by Nicholas Clinch climbed in the range four times in 1988, 1989, 1992 and 1993. However, all the peaks, including Mianzimu (6,054m), still remain unclimbed.

In 2001, local government passed laws banning all future climbing attempts on cultural and religious grounds. As of 2020, none of the significant peaks of the range have been successfully climbed.