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  Mountain Madness: 2004 Mustagh Ata expedition

Dispatch Two: Mustagh Ata Dispatch #2 6/28/04 News from Tartary

My arrival here in Kashgar yesterday - after 48 hours on the train from Beijing to Urumchi and then another 22 hours from Urumchi - was somewhat anticlimactic. After countless hours spent studying the languages and history of the region, there was no reaffirming epiphany awaiting me - only a sullen Chinese railway official who informed me that my 600 lbs of luggage was "somewhere on the road between Beijing and here." Not very encouraging words. With the fate of the expedition hanging in the balance, we - my trusty native guide and I - debated the best course of action. For, as the Taoists long ago noted, given enough time, water will wear down even the highest mountain. Each time we returned to her little cubby-hole, the official yelled a little louder, a little more shrilly. We, on the other hand, kept our cool: polite - deferential even - and all-smiles. On our sixth visit, perhaps forgetting that the microphone she spoke through amplified her voice on our side of the glass partition separating us, she began screaming in earnest. This had the desired effect of luring out her superior, who was able to locate our gear within five minutes.

Things are hot here in Kashgar but at least there isn't the humidity that is afflicting the team as they assemble in Beijing. By tomorrow, the 29th, everyone will have arrived in China and on the 30th the whole team will finally be here in Kashgar. And then, job's on.

Christine Boskoff

Mountain Madness, Inc.



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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