2004: After our latest summit, everyone make it back to base camp without
incident, even Ben. Dale and Randall took longer coming down than the rest,
camping out one last night in the canyon, and spending an hour photographing
the ice formations in the shadows of Ice Canyon. All that is left is to pack
up and hope that our ride comes this afternoon... A hearty thanks to our
equipment sponsors for helping make such a spectacular trip possible: Cliff
Bar, Dana Design, Salomon, Sierra Design!
There was a final welcome from
our crew, including the last of the firecrackers and yet another huge lunch.
We were cutting it close on potatoes, and Gin Gong threatened to go to
Dahongliutan to buy more, despite some 20 kg of pasta being left. Between
washing clothes and ourselves, we have managed to find time to learn hurling
tips from Gerard, who brought four hurleys all the way to Base Camp. Chasing
a slitter through scree at 14,800 feet is not easy, even after four weeks of
We are all looking forward to
heading back to the civilization of Kashgar, hopefully following a smooth ride
back. The weather has definitely changed from the clear blue summer of our
arrival to a stormier autumn. We hope that the others have by now made it
back to Kashgar, and the two 5000m passes will not cause problems on the
29 August, 2004
We are finally back in
Kashgar after five weeks in the mountains! Our vehicles arrived in the
afternoon of 27 August, and after ferrying loads from camp to the Dong Feng
"truck", we managed a 17h00 start. The 4x4's were Mitsubishis in far better
shape than the Land Cruisers we rode out on, one even equipped with a
television in the sun visor!
We spent the night in
Xaidulla, where we caught the first of the Olympics on CCTV, with a definite
slant towards diving and women's volleyball. Yesterday we managed an early
start, and made lunch at the Mazar checkpoint, and our evening checkpoint
destination by 16h30. Our drivers were eager to continue, so we rolled on to
Yecheng, and had dinner there at 18h30. Only four hours to go, so we made it
all the way back to Kashgar for a 400km day. (That's a lot when the roads are
At John's cafe we met with
Trevor, who had been on the earlier return, and he recounted their tales of
woe, including sickness, breakdowns, one night in the Land Cruiser, and
problems at all the checkpoints. What took us a day and a half took them more
than double, and those flying out barely made their flights!
Tonight the six of us left in
Kashgar (Annie, Ben, Dale, Gerard, Trevor & Randall) will go out and celebrate
with Johan, Akram our de facto translator, Gin Gong our cook, and Gus the
driver. Let's just hope there is not too much bai-jo!
As last minute packing and preparations are
Connecticut, team members are getting ready to
fly to Kashgar via
Urumqi, arriving on 25 and 26 July. After
final preparations in Kashgar, our convoy of three Toyota Landcruisers and one
6x6 rugged military vehicle will head southeast on the
Silk Road towards Yecheng.
From there we will head south onto the
Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, through Mazar, to our last outpost of civilization in
Dahongliutan. We expect to pass
through on 01 August, assuming there are no issues with our military permits,
and no vehicle trouble on the climbs through the 5000m passes of the Kunlun
Last minute information is trickling in from
Kashgar… A Japanese expedition just came back after an unsuccessful attempt on
Aksai Chin I, which had an unconfirmed summit by the Japanese in 1997. They
report that the military road we hope to follow does indeed exist, and though
in rough shape, should get us within 10km of Base Camp. By the time we set up
Base Camp, we expect to have been on the road for five or six days.
Armed with coordinates and advice from previous
expeditions, we will have to take our chances discovering the differences
between the maps and the actual terrain. Thin blue hairlines on the map can
easily turn out to be impassable glacial runoff. The maps also neglect to
indicate the difference between surfaces such as mud and quicksand, both of
which will eagerly swallow any vehicle up to its axles.
While exploring the unknown peaks of the Aksai
Chin West, the team will have limited contact with the outside world. A
decision was made to leave the laptop behind, so while there will be no live
coverage with photos and video, we will be sending messages from our Iridium
satellite phone for text coverage right here on EverestNews.com
2004 Expedition to
It is with intrepid spirit of adventure and
respect that the Kunlun 2004 expedition is being planned. What started out as
a harebrained idea discussed over breakfast in the
Lakes will become a reality when we
drive across the edge of the
Desert to be dropped off for almost a
month's worth of unsupported exploration.
For nearly a year, we have been researching the
possibilities of an expedition to more remote regions of the world to summit
unclimbed peaks. Research has shown that there are 230 peaks over 6000m in the
Kunlun Shan and that fewer than 50 of those have ever been climbed!
The goal of the Kunlun 2004 expedition is to
explore several unknown peaks of the Aksai Chin plateau with the motives of
first ascents of 6000m peaks and scientific research in the form of geological
survey data collection.
After purchasing several political maps of
Province, eventually the correct
aviation charts for the area were found. These Operational Navigation Charts (ONC's)
are at a scale of 1:500,000, and Tactical Pilotage Charts in the same series
are at 1:250,000. Though one would never consider such a scale for something
Rainier, it the best information that is publicly
available for such an unexplored region. The charts are quite detailed but
meant for aircraft flying over the region rather than mountaineers on the
ground. As they are based entirely on satellite data, they have disclaimers
that peak heights may be off by as much as 1000 feet!
Our project is original because of our climbing
style, and the remoteness of the goal. We will drive overland nearly 1000km
from the nearest airport in Kashgar, and once we are dropped off at base camp,
we will be completely unsupported for nearly three weeks. Because of the
altitude and isolation, there are no options of retreat, and though we will
have communications, any rescue would be nearly a week away.
Digital Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Thermometer. Time/Date/Alarms.
Chronograph with 24 hour working range. Timer with stop, repeat and up
function. Rotating Bezel. Leveling bubble. Carabiner latch. E.L. 3 second
backlight. Water resistant. 4" x 2-1/4" x 3/4" 2 oz. Requires 1 CR2032
See more here.