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  SummitClimb Mustagata 2004

mustagh ata.JPG (15667 bytes)

Dear EverestNews.com, Hope you are doing well! Here are the latest dispatches sat-phoned in by Jon Otto and written by Mike Obrien of SummitClimb.com

Summit Day Recap, July 13th

      We headed out, in great weather, at about 7:30 am local time on July 13th toward the summit of Mustagata. Some say that this is too late a start, but it is just so darn cold, why head out any earlier? And getting caught in the storm at the summit was still warmer than was getting out of our tents that morning. The down side of getting caught in the storm was that we missed the usually spectacular 360 degree view from the summit, but hey, things don't always work out perfectly, especially when mountaineering remote high peaks.

      Originally, six of us had headed out for the summit, but half way up Kah Shin had to turn around. Pemba accompanied him down. A marathoner, Kah Shin has great tenacity and determination, and he knew he would get another chance. He descended to BC in less than a day and is now back on the mountain going for the summit once again. Because I had him go back down with Kah Shin, Pemba was looking rather gloomy, until I explained to him (3 times!) that he would get another shot at the summit, really. Pemba shows the great determination typical of these Tibetan sherpas.

  The team was all on snowshoes, and Bret broke trail all the way to the top. I was the only one on skis and broke trail parallel to the rest of the team, placing wands every 50-100 meters. The snow was plentiful and soft, and Bret was rewarded for his efforts by being first to the summit. Mustagata is mostly flat on top, except for a few rock outcroppings. Bret ran up the tallest of the small outcroppings of rock - which is the "true" summit and highest point on the mountain - and lay down, then ran back to meet his dad with a big hug. Bret didn't look like he was at 7546 meters, he was moving like a squirrel looking for a nut. Ding was elated and was hugging everyone. He pulled out the banner of his sponsor and pictures of his girlfriend, and took photos until his hands went numb (which takes less than a minute up there). In the meantime the clouds had surrounded us, and the wind was howling and snow was falling. I called my wife from up there, a first for me. This was the fourth mountain that Ding had climbed, but Mustagata was the first that he had summitted. Needless to say, his motivation level was through the roof. He had previously tried Shue Bao Deng, China's easiest 6000 metre peak, but only made it to camp 1 before his climb ended when he and a another female climber fell in love and eloped together. Then, in 2001, having recovered from his romance, Ding went to Nojin Kansa, a 7000m peak in Tibet (SummitClimb.com has climbed this mountain twice), but was ordered to remain in basecamp as "basecamp manager". He also climbed a technical 6000er in Sichuan with Jon Otto last year, but we had to turn him around less than 50 vertical meters from the top, because of an exposed ridgeline we deemed too dangerous and unstable. That is why Ding was so determined he was going to get to the top of Mustagata! And he did....

  The way back down to C3 from the summit was slow going. Other than Bill and Ding being extremely exhausted, we had to play "find the wand". This tedious game entails staying near one wand until the clouds and fog clear enough to spot the next one, then "running" to that one and trying to spot the next one, etc... I also had my GPS unit, which gave us an added layer of security up there, a very desirable thing to have on a mountain like Mustagata, which has few landmarks of any kind high on its flanks. If worse came to worst, I could simply have entered "go to C3" on my Magellan unit, then followed the little arrow until we bumped into our tents. Between tried-and-true traditional methods and modern technology, it should now be virtually impossible to get lost up there. We got back to C3 at around 8pm, making it a 12 to 13 hour summit day, not bad, especially after the push we made to get there. All for now from Mustagata, Jon Otto from SummitClimb.com

Mustagata Basecamp, July 15th:   The storm from summit day (July 13th) continued into the night and the following day. We, the summit team (father and son pair Bill and Bret, Ding, and Jon), finally left the high camp at noon on July 14th. On the way down we passed Steven Decoster (Belgium) and Claudia Broch (Switzerland), who were waiting out the weather for another day before descending. These two are the friendly and personable couple that summitted together with us. We have been helping each other out in small ways over the past few days. They gave a cup of "mountain tea" to Zhu, who was having trouble getting to Camp 2. "Without that tea, I would never have gotten here!", said Zhu at the time. We never did ask what the secret ingredient in that tea was.  Also, Steven and Claudia were able to follow our footsteps and wands while making their way to the summit. It's nice when teams can support each other and cooperate, rather than have a "competitive attitude" that may be present between teams from different expeditions. The mountains are big, and there is plenty of room for everyone on them.

  I stayed behind to dig out the Camp 3 tents, which were easily becoming overwhelmed by nature's whimsical ways - tons and tons of annoying spindrift, you can never win the sisyphean battle against spindrift! I then caught up with the others (I was on skis, so could move down the mountain more quickly), and as a group we methodically continued down toward C2, sometimes in whiteout conditions. Even though the weather was awful, the air temperature was rising quickly as we continued our descent. At C2 more of our tents needed digging out; at C1, wow, what a city of tents! Culture shock! Camp 1 has grown dramatically (now it is at around 30 tents) during the few days that we were higher on the mountain.  Many Western and Eastern European teams are here now. The Korean team, which was camped next to us at BC and at C1, have now reached C2. There was a large Chinese team, led by Mr. Yang, with 6 tents at C1. Some of their team members I know very well, such as Terry Choi from Hong Kong, and Mr. Jin, who runs a climbing equipment shop in Yunan. The rise of Chinese climbing in the last 3 years has been incredible, the increase exponential. They have taken to their own mountains like never before in history, and in every corner of their country.

  We made it down to BC by 8pm, and had a skillfully prepared, delicious and abundant feast of fresh vegetables, noodles, rice, and fresh roasted lamb (separately prepared for the non-vegetarians in our team). It continued to rain all day today here at BC, while snowing on the mountain. Our summit energized the rest of the team as they headed out for their own summit push. Today they are going to C1, tomorrow C2, then on to C3 and the summit, weather permitting. Kah Shin, who got to over 7100 meters with us on July 13th, is highly motivated. Zhu, who got hit by the altitude at C2, is now confident that he is properly acclimatized. Denny, JD, and Bob all look in good shape and are in high spirits. Our guide, Ted Callahan, and our 2 Tibetan "sherpas" are going up with this group. Their planned summit date is July 18th. Talk to you soon, Jon Otto from SummitClimb.com

July 16th, Snow!

  We are having the largest July dump in recent history. The snow began to fall last night and continued falling all day today, with only brief pauses. At times it was thick, wet flakes, at other times it was like hail. At C1 the accumulation was several feet, visibility was often 10 feet or less. What conditions prevail higher on the mountain, we can only guess. Our second summit team stayed in C1 today. JD, who was getting a little stir crazy sitting around up there, decided to run down to BC for lunch. Along the way, he heard and then spotted a member of the Korean team who had gone the wrong way. The man was yelling "I'm lost! I'm lost!". With some assistance from JD, and a couple of hours hiking down, they both made it safely into BC. Nice cooperation team mates!

  The Danes are hunkered down at around 6200m, waiting out the storm and wondering if it will ever end. They are all okay. It is still snowing and we are all hoping that it blows out during the evening. Cheers from a very wet Basecamp, Jon Otto from SummitClimb.com  

Thanks EverestNews.com for letting the world know how our Mustagata climb is going.

Yours Sincerely, from Jon Otto, Mike O'Brien, and Daniel Mazur 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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