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  SummitClimb Mustagata 2004: Dispatch, “Finale” Kashgar


mustagh ata.JPG (15667 bytes)

Dear EverestNews.com, it has been wonderful working with you on this Mustagata climb. Here is the latest dispatch emailed in from Kashgar by Jon Otto:

Dispatch, “Finale” Kashgar

We are now back in Kashgar, the nearest big city to Mustagata, and feeling very proud that our team has summited Mustagata, the world's easiest 7500 meter peak, often skied, snowshoed, and snow boarded. Here is an account of the final days of our climb:

July 18th: The heavens had dumped more snow on Mustagata during this time of year than anyone had seen in over ten years. At this point I was worrying about how we would clear camps 2 and 3 if the bad weather persisted. Other than tents, stoves, gas, and lots of food, our members had a lot of their personal equipment at camp 2, staged and ready for the summit bid. Their personal articles included such items as warm clothing, sleeping bags and sleeping pads.

The following morning (July 19th) the weather looked promising. We assessed the avalanche potential critically, and determined that snow pack anchors on the slopes were still sufficient for safe travel, so we left early to try to catch the snow in its best condition. Our two superstar Sherpas, Awang and Pemba seemed to have renewed energy. They broke trail like bulldozers all the way to camp 2 in around 3 hours. From there they continued to camp 3. A fog rose out of the valley in the morning and we were climbing through on and off semi-whiteout conditions with occasional light snow. I was thinking, “Will it ever just be nice out.” By noon the sun finally burned the fog away. The tents at camp 2 were completely covered by snow. Some careful digging revealed the word “Ozark” (the name of our kind sponsor) on one of the tents. These were the same Ozark tents we used on Everest during April and May of 2004 and they held up well. Not a bit of damage from being buried; these are some tough tents.

Finally, Awang and Pemba came down from camp 3 with our 2 tents, stoves, and other equipment. As we continued to pack-up camp 2 a steady stream of climbers were moving up the mountain, following the impressive trail blazed by our two tough Sherpas. Everyone had been stationary for 5 days and now that the weather was a little better and our Sherpas had made tracks, so it seemed everyone was pushing up as fast as they could. I offered hot drinks and food to the passers-by. We had left quite a bit of equipment at camp 2, so Awang and Pemba each had their rucksack jammed full, plus each dragged a duffle crammed full of stuff. Then down the mountain they went, and everyone was very impressed with, and grateful for, their incredible strength. We could not have done this climb without them.

July 20th was a nice day, but July 21st it socked in again and snowed. To celebrate we had another incredible feast skillfully conjured by our amazing cooks, of fresh vegetables and meats (separately prepared for the vegetarians amongst us). A few of our members chose to sample some of the local firewater, and a friendly and cheery evening was had by all.

On the morning of July 22nd, there was a layer of snow on the ground as we hastily broke camp and made loads for the camels. It seemed fitting that the mountain was, again, shrouded in a layer of clouds on our departure day. It would have been ironic had our final day dawned clear, after we were pummeled by so much snow during the last week of the climb. The camel drivers were very meticulous in loading their trusty beasts, and the process of weighing and loading the camels took about 4 hours, including a fair amount of discussion in rapid-fire Chinese [thank heavens we had Jon there; he speaks fluent Chinese]. Finally, we made it down to Subashi where our vehicles were waiting to take us to Kashgar. In Kashgar we celebrated our successful climb with yet another incredible feast of delicious food and drink until late into the night.

About the weather: The local people who live around Mustagata, the "Khergiz" did not have an answer to why there was so much rain and snow this year.

They did not seem disturbed by it, though. Mustagata is usually immune from the effects of the monsoon, but this year the monsoon definitely made it to Mustagata. While on the mountain, we heard reports of heavy rains in Pakistan, influencing climbers on K2 and the Gasherbrum. Bob, one of our members, works as a scientist for NASA predicting weather patterns.

Throughout the climb, Bob was pretty much accurate about what was coming and how long it would stay. When he returns to the States he will be doing an analysis of what went on this summer, so hopefully we will have some more

answers. But, for now, it suffices to say that Mustagata was just having a wet July.

Normally, average dry years generally follow years of excess, so we shall look forward to "back to normal" conditions next year. Thank you for following our climb of Mustagata and we look forward to climbing Mustagata again with you in 2005. Cheers, climb safe, Jon Otto.

Daniel Mazur and all of us at SummitClimb.com would like to thank everyone who made this possible, Jon Otto, the climbing team members, Sherpas, organizers, EverestNews.com, Mike O'Brien who wrote much of what you have read; and all of our families, friends, and colleagues who support us through these challenging and exciting moments in the mountains. THANK

YOU FROM EVERYONE AT SummitClimb.com

Dispatches

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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