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  Mountain Madness: 2004 Mustagh Ata expedition

Dispatch 6 & 7: Dispatch 6 – Microbes and Man

Our final rest here at Base Camp before we push to the summit.  Spirits are high as apparently are hemoglobin.  At this point, everyone, except Denny, is on one sort of antibiotic or another.  Fortunately, both Bob and JD have cleared the hurtle of their respiratory infections and they’re ready to go.  I am a little under at this moment but is recovering well.  Jim, coming off the heals of a difficult expedition to Bolivia, has not been feeling well and has decided to quit the mountain.  He is now focusing his energy on trying to arrange an operation for a 2 year old Turkish girl who has the four fingers of one hand fused together.  Jim is currently down in the village of Subashi trying to locate the little girl’s parents to discuss options with them.  He is planning on having the girl’s hand operated on in Beijing sometime in the next year.  Everyone applauds his efforts.

While Bob recovered from an upper respiratory infection at Base Camp, Denny, JD and I made the arduous 7 hour trek from Camp 1 to Camp 2 where we slept the night.  We descended back to Base Camp to rest.  Bob, a little behind on the acclimatization schedule, has gone up to Camp 1 a little early.  Ted, JD and Denny will head up there tomorrow afternoon.  After a night at Camp 1, the four of us will move on to Camp 2, sleep there and then on to Camp 3.  And if will and weather remain stable, then to the summit.

Wish us well and hopefully we’ll come home with brave tales of adventure.

Dispatch 7 – Monsoon Blues

First off, the good news!  We’re all back safely at Base Camp having sat out 3 days of foul weather at Camp 1.  And the bad news – the expedition is over.  Mustagh Ata has been getting pummeled for the past 5 days – snow, lightning, whiteout conditions and spindrift have combined to shut down any upward movement beyond Camp 1.  This is, it should be noted, extremely atypical weather.  The snow has been so extreme that our tents at Camp 2 are completely covered (A team descending from Camp 2 was kind enough to take digital photos.)  As soon as (if?) it stops snowing and conditions are good, we’re planning to push to Camp 2 with our Tibetan “sherpa” to retrieve our tents and the gear cashed in them.  Unfortunately, that’s the best we can hope for.  It will probably be days before the route to Camp 3 and the summit is reestablished and we have to back in Kashgar on the 22nd – in 3 days.

Aside from stripping Camp 2, the team is planning a visit to the City of Tashkurgan and the lake of Karakul before packing up and heading back to Kashgar.  Denied the summit, we’re going to compensate with these excursions and then some serious feasting back in Kashgar. 

So, the score stands at Mustagh Ata – one, Mountain Madness – zero.  Despite that, we all had a great time here in Western China – skiing down from 6200 meters, haggling with the local kirghiz, enjoying beautiful views across into Tajikistan, and a fantastic farewell Chinese banquet.  Till next year then, Mustagh.

Note from Bob:

Bob here – Finally back at Base Camp, after 3 days snowed in at Camp 1.  It’s Sunday morning, snowing heavily and we’re now into our 5 day of this weird monsoon-like weather pattern.  No clue how much longer this weather will last – could be days.  Mustagh Ata is not supposed to get the summer monsoon as it is too far northwest and blocked by K2.  Why then does this bizarre weather seem to be exactly what I’d expect from a monsoon?  I’m looking forward to being back home and analyzing this semi-permanent storm.

End Final Dispatch

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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