Sunday 1 August - Nothing like a rough day at 16,000 feet, especially after a
close call on water the night before. Everyone slept in, and aside from the
ubiquitous headaches, all felt better. As a plan of attack materialized, it
became clear that we would need another day before attempting base camp at
all. The rest was interrupted by unrest from the drivers. Two wanted to
continue the journey, and the drivers were looking for bribes. It quickly
became clear that the drivers would get their way, as one started emptying his
land cruiser of all expedition gear.
We asked for 30
minutes to come up with a plan and to see if we could pin point the mystery
peak our selves. The drivers nixed that plan, and after a bit of yelling from
both sides, we broke camp and headed back to the road before we were
The drive back to
Dahongliutan was dusty and bone shattering on the dry roads. The highlight
was seeing beautiful peaks to the north, where they shone like pyramids at
22,000 feet. We rolled onto town to catch the truck and feed ourselves, at
the last outpost this side of Tibet. Our cook was sent in to assist with
dinner and after we supplied our own cooking gas, the process for preparing
dinner for 18 commenced. We thought soon the chickens would be beheaded with
a cleaver would be exciting, but we were wrong. The excitement was when Jimmy
Wong, our liaison officer, picked up the cleaver and made a run for Johan. I
disarmed Jimmy with the knife before he could throw it, and someone managed to
take away the rock he picked up next. We separated the two and managed a nice
meal be fore headed toward the peaks. One last bribe of 1,100 RMB and we were
on our way. We followed the West Side of the valley and set up base camp
there. Forming a fire line, we unloaded the truck and watched as it sped away
into the darkness with our money. Tents were set up and a path to the stream
was found. I shook hands with Johan, and we all looked forward to making our
new base camp home. What a long day! – Randall.
Monday 2 August – Last nigh
did not end so peacefully as hoped. After Johan was all set to leave, none of
the drivers would take him back to Kashgar. Scared out of their wits, they
made up feeble excuses like poor headlights and a rattling radiator so they
could not drive. Johan flashed his own knife, screaming about how Jimmy would
get 7 years for armed assault when they got back toe Kashgar. Our driver then
threw the knife into the darkness. Johan threatened to walk back to town and
take care of Jimmy, if one of the drivers did not take him away. “ I am
leaving now…do not make me walk. I am not a coward, I will wake him up before
I kill him!” Johan slept in on e land cruiser; Dale and Thoma kept watch in
the other. In the morning Johan and the remaining driver were gone. We were
finally free from the psychotic adventures of our ground crew. Celebratory
fireworks from Akram, our translator, then drew us from our tents. – Randall
Tuesday 3 Aug – Today we
decided to start moving base camp farther up the valley. Exploration
yesterday showed that the other side of the valley Alluvial Fan reaches more
than a kilometer further upstream, and that the land cruiser should be able to
make it most of the way.
We started with
carries and our driver Tom made it right down next to the river on his first
try. After a little trouble finding a way back up through the sandy surface,
Tom made it back down to Base Camp 1. Two more runs in the truck tomorrow,
and a few more carries to shift cam from 14, 300 feet to 14,800 feet.
Everybody is healthy and happy. – Randall.
As last minute packing and preparations are
Connecticut, team members are getting ready to
fly to Kashgar via
Urumqi, arriving on 25 and 26 July. After
final preparations in Kashgar, our convoy of three Toyota Landcruisers and one
6x6 rugged military vehicle will head southeast on the
Silk Road towards Yecheng.
From there we will head south onto the
Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, through Mazar, to our last outpost of civilization in
Dahongliutan. We expect to pass
through on 01 August, assuming there are no issues with our military permits,
and no vehicle trouble on the climbs through the 5000m passes of the Kunlun
Last minute information is trickling in from
Kashgar… A Japanese expedition just came back after an unsuccessful attempt on
Aksai Chin I, which had an unconfirmed summit by the Japanese in 1997. They
report that the military road we hope to follow does indeed exist, and though
in rough shape, should get us within 10km of Base Camp. By the time we set up
Base Camp, we expect to have been on the road for five or six days.
Armed with coordinates and advice from previous
expeditions, we will have to take our chances discovering the differences
between the maps and the actual terrain. Thin blue hairlines on the map can
easily turn out to be impassable glacial runoff. The maps also neglect to
indicate the difference between surfaces such as mud and quicksand, both of
which will eagerly swallow any vehicle up to its axles.
While exploring the unknown peaks of the Aksai
Chin West, the team will have limited contact with the outside world. A
decision was made to leave the laptop behind, so while there will be no live
coverage with photos and video, we will be sending messages from our Iridium
satellite phone for text coverage right here on EverestNews.com
2004 Expedition to
It is with intrepid spirit of adventure and
respect that the Kunlun 2004 expedition is being planned. What started out as
a harebrained idea discussed over breakfast in the
Lakes will become a reality when we
drive across the edge of the
Desert to be dropped off for almost a
month's worth of unsupported exploration.
For nearly a year, we have been researching the
possibilities of an expedition to more remote regions of the world to summit
unclimbed peaks. Research has shown that there are 230 peaks over 6000m in the
Kunlun Shan and that fewer than 50 of those have ever been climbed!
The goal of the Kunlun 2004 expedition is to
explore several unknown peaks of the Aksai Chin plateau with the motives of
first ascents of 6000m peaks and scientific research in the form of geological
survey data collection.
After purchasing several political maps of
Province, eventually the correct
aviation charts for the area were found. These Operational Navigation Charts (ONC's)
are at a scale of 1:500,000, and Tactical Pilotage Charts in the same series
are at 1:250,000. Though one would never consider such a scale for something
Rainier, it the best information that is publicly
available for such an unexplored region. The charts are quite detailed but
meant for aircraft flying over the region rather than mountaineers on the
ground. As they are based entirely on satellite data, they have disclaimers
that peak heights may be off by as much as 1000 feet!
Our project is original because of our climbing
style, and the remoteness of the goal. We will drive overland nearly 1000km
from the nearest airport in Kashgar, and once we are dropped off at base camp,
we will be completely unsupported for nearly three weeks. Because of the
altitude and isolation, there are no options of retreat, and though we will
have communications, any rescue would be nearly a week away.
Digital Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Thermometer. Time/Date/Alarms.
Chronograph with 24 hour working range. Timer with stop, repeat and up
function. Rotating Bezel. Leveling bubble. Carabiner latch. E.L. 3 second
backlight. Water resistant. 4" x 2-1/4" x 3/4" 2 oz. Requires 1 CR2032
See more here.