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  SummitClimb Mustagata 2004


mustagh ata.JPG (15667 bytes)

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Early in the morning of the first day our team will board a bus for the drive to "Subashi" which means pasture in the local "Tadzhik" dialect. By the side of the Karakoram Highway, at 3,600 meters, we will unload all of our equipment from the buses, camp, then the following morning, load our equipment onto camels. These sturdy beasts, led by their gentle shepherds, the "Kirghiz" people, will carry our belongings on a five hour walk to basecamp, while our members and staff accompany on foot, carrying nothing. We reach basecamp at 4,500 meters late in the day, have a tasty hot meal, and lots of hot drinks, then fall into our sleeping bags for a welcome sleep. The following day, there is plenty of time to participate in our extensive mountain-climbing and medical and camping training, to really get basecamp well organized, rest, unpack everything, and enjoy many good cups of tea and juice and hearty meals of fresh local vegetables, grains, potatoes and fresh or tinned meat (separately prepared for the meat-eaters in our midst). Our cook is a local "Uighur", who is a trained chef, who knows what westerners like to eat, who we have used many times before, and is able to prepare a tasty, filling meal on a moment's notice. He is able to cook for a variety of palettes with a minimum of spices and oils. There is plenty of fuel for daily washing and showers in hot water, and for boiling drinking water (we have iodine tablets, and/or a water-filter for water purification, just in case).

Now its time to climb Mustagata, the easiest 7500 metre peak in the world: We have chosen to climb the peak in July, a time when the snow conditions are good, the mountain is not too "melted-out", and the route is relatively pristine and clean.

Over the next few days, we hike up and down the mountain to Camp 1 at 5,400 meters. The trail is mainly loose stones, is usually snow free and is done in leather walking boots (plastic boots are required above camp 1). Most people prefer to hire the local donkey-drivers and their sturdy beasts, who will charge a rate of 10-20 Chinese Yuan per kilo to carry personal equipment such as sleeping bag and climbing boots, up and down the mountain. After our staff carry up the tents and supplies, and set everything up, we move into Camp 1 and sleep. Camp 1 is a small rocky flat place in a 15 degree hillside of loose stones, occasionally lightly snow covered. We rest and acclimate, and use our snowshoes or skis (with climbing skins) to explore the way to Camp 2 at 6,100 meters.

These slopes are lightly crevassed, so all team members are usually roped above Camp 1. For descending above camp 1, snowshoes, skis, or a snowboard are often used. Camp 2 is located on a nearly flat, 4 degree snow plateau. Enroute to Camp 2, at 6200 meters, lies a miniscule ice fall. It is not normally necessary to use fixed lines here, although we are prepared to fix them, in case one of the tiny crevasses might open wide enough. In five years, this only happened once. Then we descend by snowshoe, ski, or snowboard down to camp 1 and walk back to basecamp. Eventually after resting in base, eating lots of good food and many cups of tea and other drinks, taking time to adjust to the altitude, and carrying equipment up to Camp 2, we sleep there. The slopes above and below Camp 2 are sustained at a 20 degree pitch, and offer the best skiing and snowboarding.

After descending for a day or two of rest and some large and tasty meals in basecamp, its time to move up to Camp 3 and sleep there. Route finding to Camp 3 at 6,800 meters involves traversing some of the gentlest slopes on the mountain, often below 10 degrees. It's a very easy place to walk, snowshoe or ski, but there are crevasses in this area, so all safety precautions must be used, including traveling as a roped team and use of bamboo marker wands.

On Summit Day, we head out of camp early, roped together, walking and with our snowshoes, or skis and climbing skins. If we are planning to snowboard down, we will be snowshoe-ing up carrying the board on your back. It takes 4 to 8 hours to reach the summit (7,546 meters) from Camp 3. The slope begins at 18 degrees, then lessens to 5 degrees. It is big and wide, with few or no crevasses. We will continue to be roped for safety, however. At the summit, we can look at the marvelous view in every direction, toward Pakistan and Rakaposhi, into the K2 area, across to the Tien Shan range, even into Afghanistan. This is an invigorating place from which to view the planet. After packing up all of our equipment and rubbish, its time for a careful descent, and we can be back in basecamp in one or two days. Finally we pack up basecamp, and load the equipment onto camels for the descent. Leaving Subashi, we retrace our steps to Kashgar, and say our last goodbyes to our new friends before the flight home. Thanks for joining in, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at SummitClimb.com !

PS. Thanks to EverestNews.com for all of their fantastic hard work and sharing news about Himalayan exploration with everyone.

The Team

JONATHAN C. OTTO (Leader), USA

EDWARD MANNING CALLAHAN, JR. (guide), USA

ZHU JIN, CHINA (climbing team member)

DING YINGLU, CHINA (climbing team member)

KAH SHIN LEOW, SINGAPORE (climbing team member)

WILLIAM WASLEY, USA (climbing team member)

BRET WASLEY, USA (climbing team member)

HANS BRÄUNER-OSBORNE, DENMARK (climbing team member)

LOTTE ELISABETH OLSEN, DENMARK (climbing team member)

CARSTEN POVL JENSEN, DENMARK (climbing team member)

MARTIN BANK RASMUSSEN, DENMARK (climbing team member)

ROBERT OGLESBY, USA (climbing team member)

JOHN DAVID STEWART, USA (climbing team member)

DENNY BOHANNON, USA (climbing team member)

JAMES WIESMUELLER, USA (climbing team member)

 

Staff: 2 skilled Uighur Cooks, and 2 experienced Tibetan Sherpas.

 

SUGGESTED DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY FOR MUSTAGATA NORMAL ROUTE
1. 1 July Arrive Kashgar or Tashkergan. Sight seeing, logistics. Hotel
2. 2 July Bus to Subashi (3600 metres); Arrive in afternoon, Camp.
3. 3 July Load camels; hike to basecamp (4,500 meters). Camp.
4. 4 July Rest, training, and organization in basecamp.
5. 5 July Walk to Camp 1 (5,400 meters); return to basecamp; rest.
6.  6 July Rest in basecamp.
7. 7 July Walk to Camp 1; sleep in Camp 1.
8. 8 July Snowshoe/Ski to Camp 2 (6,200 meters); return to basecamp via snowshoe/ski/snowboard, walk down from camp 1; rest.
9. 9 July Rest in basecamp.
10. 10 July Walk to Camp 1 and sleep.
11. 11 July Snowshoe/Ski to Camp 2; sleep.
12. 12 July Explore route to Camp 3 (6,800 meters); return to basecamp via snowshoe/ski/snowboard and walk down from camp 1; rest.
13. 13 July Rest in basecamp.
14. 14 July Rest in basecamp.
15. 15 July Walk to Camp 1; sleep.
16. 16 July Snowshoe/Ski to Camp 2; sleep.
17. 17 July Snowshoe/Ski to Camp 3; sleep.
18. 18 July Summit attempt via snowshoe/ski (7,546 meters).
19. 19 July Summit attempt via snowshoe/ski (7,546 meters).
20. 20 July Descend to basecamp via snowshoe/ski/snowboard and walking down from camp 1; rest.
21. 21 July Descend to basecamp via snowshoe/ski/snowboard and walking down from camp 1; rest.
22. 22 July Walk down to Subashi with camels, bus to Kashgar or Tashkurgan.
23. 23 July Departure. Goodbye to all of our new friends!
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