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  Mountain Madness: 2004 Mustagh Ata expedition

Dispatch Five: Dispatch 5 

We back here at Base Camp are enjoying one of our last rest days before our final push to the summit.  Yesterday we went about three quarters of the way towards Camp 2 despite several inches of new snow and windy conditions.  Our efforts were rewarded with fantastic skiing under the sun.  The excursion also was Denny’s new high point at 19,000 feet – way to go Denny! 

The team had spent the night before in Camp 1, which was our first overnight on the mountain.  Despite some minor insomnia, loss of appetite and a too close for comfort lightening storm, everyone weathered the night well.  Tomorrow we head up again with the intention of sleeping at Camp 1, then sleeping at 20,232 ft. Camp 2, and finally an acclimatization trip to Camp 3, before returning to Base Camp.  Bob has taken to predicting weather conditions and has called for good weather, but al least we know who to blame if this prediction does not pan out.  Tim, a retired meteorologist, is deferring all the weather predictions to Bob. 

Both JD and Bob are doing well and say hello to friends and family.  It might be difficult to get JD back on the mountain, noting as he did the other day, “Is that a girl?” as other teams moved up the mountain.  Anyway, rap it back to you in 4 days.  Quick note from Bob – “I’m having a blast, even thought yesterday we stopped a little short of Camp 2, I felt real strong, even with this minor cold bugging me.  And I wanted to let you know that Ted is a great Guide.  He continually discusses his options with us and isn’t afraid to let us know that he can sometimes get tired too.”

Dispatch 4: We arrived Base Camp four days ago though it seems like we've been here much longer.  In all, our accommodations are pretty luxurious.  We are camped on grass alongside a stream, below the moraine where the trail to the summit begins.  We have electricity (courtesy of the generator we brought  ha, ha), awesome food, satellite phones, and even beer  though the team has been forbidden the latter.  We also have two sheep (Polly and Molly) are soon to become dinner night after tomorrow.  To get all of the two and a half tons of these things up here required 25 camels, lead by Turkish herdsman.  It presents an impressive sight  a long camel train winding through the dessert wastes of Central Asia, a scene unchanged for hundreds of years.  On the climbing front, we spent most of our time acclimating at our 13,570-foot base camp.  Yesterday the team had its first carry to Camp 1 at 17,500 feet.  Denny and Ted both of whom are using skis rather than shoe shoes  have enjoyed skiing on near perfect snow.   

Today was an unplanned rest day owing to various maladies (we decided to spare our readership the grim details of our various gastro intestinal ailments  those who want explicit details will have to wait until we return stateside) and so that we can all be refreshed for our move to Camp 1 tomorrow with the intent to spend the night there and then try to do Camp 2 the following day before returning to Base Camp.  So far the weather has been great, somewhat unseasonably warm and very stable with only occasional wind and precipitation.  Let's hope it stays that way for the next couple of day.

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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