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  Mountain Madness: 2004 Mustagh Ata expedition


Dispatch Three: From Ted: July 2: As I write this, the alpin glow is shining upon Kongur and Mustagh Ata and the team is eagerly scanning the route where faint ski tracks can be seen.  Excitement is running especially high since 2 groups who successfully reached the summit pass through camp, bearing good news about the route and the snow condition upon it.   Looks like good skiing!

There’s been no shortage of excitement since our arrival in Subashi from Kashgar yesterday, Friday the 2nd.  We camped alongside the Subashi River.  The inhabitants are mostly trans-himalaya pastorial nomads who spend summers higher up in the mountains and then over winter in Kubash.  However, many will remain in the village during the summer season to provide camels for climbers to carry their gear from the route to base camp.

Yesterday it began to rain in the afternoon and then continued through the night.  At around 11, some Danes that we were camped next to raised the alarm that both mine and Bob’s tents were in danger of being flooded.  We hastily dragged them to high ground as the Danes, bearing the brunt of the flood, waded thru almost knee-high water trying to salvage their gear.  The next afternoon, despite clearing in the weather, a distance rain shower produced a flash flood, only this time threatening to inundate the entire camp, including the cooking and dining tent.  Emergency engineering plans were devised, and near inches from disaster, a series of dikes and diversion channels saved the day. Thanks especially to Denny who worked tirelessly throughout the afternoon.

Culturally the team has some interesting experiences both here and is Kashgar.  Jim struck up a conversation with a local woman, only to discover that not all observant Muslims are partial to conversing with unrelated, much less unknown men. Bob has proven to be partial to local head gear and proudly wears his new found attire.  Denny and JD spent the afternoon visiting a local household where they were treated to yak milk

Overall health and moral are both high. We know definitively so about the former because of Bob’s enthusiastic use of his oxy-stat device. Bob’s has been recording everyone’s readings, and we are already handicapping each other and to see how well we will do high-up. Tomorrow we will get to find out as we move from our 12,250 foot camp to our 14,850 base camp. More in a couple of days.

Christine Boskoff

Mountain Madness, Inc.

Dispatches

Background

I would like to welcome everyone to our 2004 Mustagh Ata expedition. At 7,566 meters (24,816 feet) Mustagh Ata is one of the 50 highest peaks in the world. It is part of the Pamir mountain range and is located in the far west remote region of China’s Xinjiang province where ice meets with the desert. The barren landscape surrounding the peak rises more than two miles above sea level. To its west are small, scattered villages of the Kirghiz people who rely on herding and trade for survival.

The first attempt of Mustagh Ata was in 1894 by a Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, who tried riding a Yak to the summit while his Kirghiz guides accompanied him on foot. Unfortunately, he and his Yak were denied the summit and gave up around 19,500 feet. In 1947, two other explorers Shipton and Tilman attempted the climb of Mustagh Ata, but turned around due to deep snow close to her summit around 24,000 feet. It wasn’t until 1956 that the Soviet Union teamed up with a Chinese Mountaineering team and was successful in reaching the summit.

The Mountain Madness Mustagh Ata team will travel through Beijing and rendezvous in Kashgar on June 30th. After a day of sightseeing they will drive to the village of Subashi, enjoying outstanding views of Mustagh Ata, Kongur, and Karakul Lake along the way. Camels will carry their loads into Base Camp. From here they will establish three higher camps. The Expedition will make our summit attempt from our high camp at 6,800 meters. Their summit day is planned around July 16th. The climb is fairly straight forward and is an excellent stepping stone for those who inspire to climb an 8,000 meter peak. Skis or snow shoes are required to make the ascent, and a couple members plan to ski down. For more information about our 2005 expedition to Mustagh Ata, please visit .

Our head guide will be Ted Callahan. Ted is a well seasoned mountain guide who brings along his witty, slightly caustic sense of humor to all his trips. Ted has all the tales of the savvy and not so savvy traveler. To his credit are also first descents on the wildest rivers in Africa, Asia and South America. Ted is a professional member of the American Mountain Guides Association and currently pursuing a Masters in Asian Studies at Stanford University. Ted is proficient in Chinese, Russian, Kazak, Nepali, Spanish and Farsi.

Other team members are;

Denny Bohannon from Arlington, Washington. Denny is a retired lineman who got his training on a MM Glacier Mountaineering Course in the Cascades. In addition Denny has climbed quite a few North American peaks. He has visited Nepal and Europe for frequent back packing trips and is an avid skier.

James Wiesmueller from Round Hill, Virginia. Jim has climbed on Denali and Aconcagua and is currently on the MM Sajama expedition. He trains by hiking with a heavy pack 2-3 times per week. Among his notable trips with MM is a coveted ascent of Ecuador’s Antisana.

Robert Oglesby from Huntsville Alabama. Bob is a Research Scientist who got his training on MM Ecuador Mountaineering Course. He's climbed in the Sierras and Kilimanjaro. Bob trains by carrying a heavy pack throughout the week and includes weight training at his local gym.

Jon David Stewart from Burlington, North Carolina. JD is superman. In the day he is a student and in the afternoon an ironman. His insane training schedule consists of biking 250 -300 miles per week, 80-100 lbs. pack and running. JD summited Aconcagua in 2002 with Mountain Madness.

We wish our team a successful and safe expedition!

Warmest Regards,
Christine Boskoff

Christine Boskoff
Mountain Madness, Inc.

 

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