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  SummitClimb Mustagata 2004

mustagh ata.JPG (15667 bytes)

Dear EverestNews.com, thanks for supporting Himalayan climbing. Here are the latest dispatches phoned in by Jon Otto and transcribed by Mike Obrien. Yours Sincerely, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at SummitClimb.com

Dispatch #4, July 10 - Basecamp

Two days ago we pushed up to Camp 2 (6166m, 20,230 ft) and stashed two Sierra Designs Stretch Dome tents. At around 5900m, on the way to Camp 2, a new crack had opened up sometime in the last 4 years. This huge crevasse, 15m (50 ft) wide, was a bit of a surprise. There is a nice path through it however, and its flat bottom is all filled with snow. It would be a great place to camp.

  On the way down from Camp 2, the rarified air was taking a toll on me. I had to rest every two turns I took on my skis. However, as I approached Camp 1 it became easier to breathe, and I got a nice rhythm, carving multiple turns on the hard, wind-blown snow. With the snow conditions, the skiing seemed to change daily. Heavy winds and below-freezing temps on the night of July 8th had turned wet powder into this hard and slick stuff I was now laboriously skiing down. On July 9th, a blanket of new snowfall made for some nice powder for Ted Callahan and team as they carved turns back to Basecamp.

Today, Kah Shin, Bill, Bret, Ding, Zhu ("Old Pig"), and I will be going back up to Camp 1, with the goal of pushing up to Camp 2 tomorrow and spending the night there. It will be interesting to see what new snow conditions we encounter. Everyone is in good spirits.

A little bit about Zhu's name. Zhu is his last name. The Chinese character for "Zhu" is pronounced just like the character for "pig". Although the characters are different, they are pronounced exactly the same. So, in good humor, he received the nickname "Pig". It is a sign of respect to call someone "old" in China, thus his paradoxical nickname of "Old Pig". However, here in Xinjiang Province - a Muslim region - "Old Pig" has to be careful about where he uses his moniker...

Finally, thank you Mike O'Brien (Cho Oyu summitter), for all your hard work in transcribing my wordy dispatches. Talk to you soon. From Camp 2, Thanks! from Jon Otto and all of us at SummitClimb.com

Dispatch #5, July 10 - Basecamp: "Tibetan 'Sherpas'"

Our 2 Tibetan "sherpas" (Awong and Pemba) are an invaluable asset to the team. It is not really accurate (or appropriate) to call them "Sherpas", who are people from the highlands of Nepal.  Instead, the 2 young men are Tibetan, and grew up around Tingri near the Everest region of Tibet. With a grant from Ozark Gear (a Beijing-based outdoor equipment company), a school was formed in 1998 to train young Tibetan men to do the high mountain work traditionally done by Nepalese Sherpas. The school is now in its fifth year and has over 50 students, most coming from poor, rural village communities around the Everest region. It is run by a dedicated 38-year-old Tibetan man named Nima Tserin. It is Nima's passion to give these young men a chance at an economically improved future. The school has created a whole new generation of mountain workers, and it has given young Tibetans a new and previously unimaginable future. The official name for a graduate of this school is "Tibetan High-Altitude Assistant", but this is a little cumbersome, and until someone comes up with something catchier, we are going to stick with Tibetan "sherpa". Regardless of what we call them, they are strong, able, and hard-working young men who live up to their misappropriated namesake. Thanks! from Jon Otto and all of us at SummitClimb.com

Dispatch #6, July 10 - Basecamp: "The Danes - Alpine or Bust!"

After 5 days acclimatization in Basecamp (4440m), and one night at 5000m, our Danish team members are now ready for their attempt to climb Mustagata in Alpine-style. Bringing enough food and gas for a 9-day single forward push, the Danes commence their climb to Camp 1 today. We look forward to seeing them often as they make their way up the mountain. Thanks! from Jon Otto and all of us at SummitClimb.com

Dispatch #7, July 10 - Basecamp "Tomaz"

In July 2000, Daniel Mazur, Walter Keller, and I climbed a new route up the east ridge of Mustagata. After summitting, we descended the normal (west) route on July 16th and spent a night at 7200m in an empty tent belonging to a Slovenian team. Descending to Basecamp the following day, we learned that one Slovenian climber was still on the mountain, and was feared to be in serious trouble.

Mr. Tomaz Kavar and Mr. Joze Peljhan had spent 3 days in that same tent, while attempting the summit. Something had been wrong with either Tomaz's skis or his legs, so Joze, who had frostbitten fingers, had skied down to Basecamp to get help.

Tomaz had probably left his tent only hours before we had inadvertently arrived at it. His frozen body was found near to some Camp 3 tents on July 21st by a Spanish team, led by Jordi Binyoli. Tomaz was 59. When found, Tomaz was sitting up on a ground pad, clutching some nuts in his hand. One can only suppose that he sat down for a rest and maybe some sleep, sleep from which he never woke. The Spaniards buried him in the snow, and marked the spot with a pair of skis. I can only imagine that if we were just a day - or even a few hours! - earlier, that we may have met Tomaz somewhere on the mountain or in his tent, and been able to save his life. But on the big mountains, normal rescue efforts can take days to reach a person, time which the victim often cannot spare. Successful rescues are often more dependent upon those who can help being in the right place at the right time. But, in Tomaz's case, there was no one else at Camp 3 at that time.

Upon arriving at Basecamp this year, I noticed a rock with Tomaz's name carved, in big letters, into the face of it. Two days ago, Tomaz's younger brother, Janez, arrived at Basecamp to pay tribute to his fallen brother. Listening to Janez talk and tell stories, I have learned a little about Tomaz and his family, and I hope to learn more.

Tomaz left behind his wife, Maja Kavar, and 2 daughters, Urska and Mojca. The younger one, Mojca, is 14 and is starting high school. Urska is 18 and beginning college at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. They live in the town Radovljica, near Lake Bleol.

Janez put a plaque dedicated to his brother on a large boulder facing the west face of Mustagata. Each night here at Basecamp, the glow of 2 candles burning in remembrance of Tomaz cautions us against approaching these great peaks with anything but the utmost respect and humility.

Before he left, Janez was kind enough to give me a shirt as a gift. On the shirt there are two hands, and extending from the hands are 7 fingers, symbolizing 7000 meters. This was a picture that Tomaz's climbing partner and friend, Joze Peljhan, took of Tomaz when he arrived at 7000 meters. It will forever remind me of the unfortunate tie that binds our two teams together here on Mustagata. In memoriam, Tomaz Kavar (1941-2000). Sincerely, Jon Otto

Thanks again EverestNews.com, for all of your fine assistance, from Jon Otto, Mike O'Brien, Daniel Mazur, and all of us at SummitClimb.com

Dispatch 8: Mustaga Ata Dispatch for July 7

  Today, Bill, Bret, Ding, Kah Shin, Zhu, Awong and Pemba (our 2 Tibetan "sherpas"), and I are at Camp 1. Kah Shin and I are having a late dinner of ravioli and instant rice. Awong and Pemba have had to carry loads up from Camp 1 every day, until we were in position to push higher up the mountain.

Tomorrow morning we will take off and explore the route to Camp 2. I suspect most of the crevasses will be filled in, due to all of the snow on the mountain this year.

  Our 4 Danish climbers, who are going to attempt to climb the mountain "Alpine-style", today went up a different part of the mountain, up to 5000 meters, where they will try to acclimatize. Then, they will return to Basecamp tomorrow, where they will spend a few days before ascending again, this time using the same route as us. They will be moving slowly, as they have heavy backpacks full of food and fuel. We will talk to you again tomorrow, hopefully from Camp 2. All the best, Sincerely, Jon Otto from SummitClimb.com.


The Team



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.


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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