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  SUMMITCLIMB MT. MUSTAGATA INTERNATIONAL EXPEDITION 2006: END OF  EXPEDITION DISPATCH


(on Tuesday we will post video from the expedition)

A fine farewell banquet in Kashgar wrapped-up our 3-week climb on Mustagata. Sichuan cuisine and a plethora of free flowing Xinjiang beer and other much sought after spirits were the call of the night. The following morning those flying back to Beijing stumbled into their airport shuttle barely in time. A perfect end to a fine expedition. 

This year many summated and those that did not obtained a personal height record by breaking the 7000-meter (23,000 foot) mark. The weather gave us a scare during the last week of the climb as three separate groups were in different stages of making their push towards the summit. We had groups in all three camps on the evening of July 18. That evening after sunset the clouds quickly set-in and it snowed throughout the night. The following morning the conditions were slightly better and the group at camp 3 decided to go for it. However, their attempt was quickly stalled by whiteout conditions and they were forced to turn back to the sanctuary of tents at camp 3.

This day the camp 1 group moved up to camp 2, while all those at camp 2 stayed hunkered down in their MSR and Ozark tents. The weather prohibited summating or even moving up to camp 3. Lower on the mountain it was reasonably better conditions but as is the norm in the mountains became exponentially worse the higher one went. It was obvious that the weather would decide the destiny of these climbers. Normally, bad weather cycles around Mustagata last 1-3 days. I had received a general weather report for the area but decided it was not that accurate, since it was predicting clear skis, but was still snowing on Mustagata.

It was also apparent that we may quickly experience a bottle neck at the high camp as those already their would not wish to come down until the weather broke and they had their go for the summit, and those in the lower camps would wish to move up to the high camp in anticipation of good weather. Thus transpired the events of the next 3 days.

*July 19* we had 15 people at camp 2 and 5 at camp 3. Everyone was waiting for weather. Everyone's summit destiny depended on Mustagata's disposition.

*July 20* morning the weather broke as a northern zephyr wafted over Mustagata's slopes. Not a single cloud could be seen. It was a climber's dream come true - it was ideal summit conditions. Four members at camp 3 (Nigel, Ben, Yann, & Phil) departed for the summit in the early morning. Santiz had a second restless night at camp 3 and decided that snowboard, gravity, and thick fresh powder was more appealing than the summit. He curved turns for over 1500 vertical meters down virgin white bliss to arrive safely back at BC in time for dinner. Meanwhile the summit team made good time to the top and was also safely back in BC the same day. 

Meanwhile, most of camp 2 moved up to camp 3. Unfortunately, altitude induced symptoms of sorts overtook a couple members and they decided to descend. This is common at these altitudes and one rarely feels 100%. However, it is also common that the desire to reach the summit on such a magnificent day gives others that extra boost of energy and they make very good time to the top and back. 

*July 21*: All those at camp 3 left for the summit in the morning. Those that made it on this day were Chris, Amanda, Phubu, Tserin, Asu, Nima, Ted & his 2 MM clients, and myself. Rico reached 7300 meters and Hanne 7150 meters.

After 36 hours of snowing the conditions were bliss. I summated at 6PM. After reaching the top I ripped of my climbing skins, tightened down the buckles on my AT boots, cliped myself into my BD Ethics, and floated down 1400 vertical meters of untouched powder. The following day I glided down another 1200 vertical meters to the snowline. That's Mustagata - the longest, most doable, high altitude ski run in the world.

Dispatch Index

ABOUT MUSTAGATA (7546 M / 24,750 Ft)  

Mt. Mustagata is an impressive and elegant peak in the Pamirs of Xinjiang Province, China. The mountain has gained popularity given that for such a high mountain it is safe, has become known as the easiest 7500 metre peak in the world, and the alpine skiing is exquisite. Climbing Mustagata is a great way to test your ability to cope with high altitude in a relatively short period of time. Most climb it in snowshoes or ski the mountain. Many more people have the ability to climb Mustagata than they think. For such a high mountain, it is very safe.

Mustagata is along the old Silk Road (present day Karakoram Highway) connecting Kashgar in China to Islamabad, Pakistan. The local people near the mountain are Khergiz and Tashiks. The Khergiz are nomadic shepherds who live in yurts and graze their camels, yaks, and sheep on the large grasslands around Mustagata, Mt. Gongar, and Karakul Lake.

Most teams climb Mustagata via what has become known as the traditional route. During the summer of 2005 SummitClimb.com climbed the mountain via the Tashgergan route (‘Tash’ route for short). The main reason for the change was that the traditional basecamp had become overcrowded, excessively dirty, and unsanitary. The ‘Tash’ route parallels the traditional route. It is similar to the traditional route in length, slope angle, and difficulty.  From the snowline to the summit, you can snowshoe or skin-up the entire mountain on skis. The ‘Tash’ route is actually better for skiing.

 TEAM ROSTER:

Jonathan Christian Otto (Leader)

Philip James Crampton (Assistant Leader)

Ben John Stephenson (UK)

Rhys Cameron Roberts (USA)

Huang, Chongzhi (China)

Rolf Vetter (Switzerland)

Nathalie Virag (Switzerland)

Charles Clinton Estes (USA)

Roger Graham Crawford (Austrailia)

Nigel Alan Campbell (UK)

Barbara Dwyer Brebrick (USA)

Alan Michael Burke (USA)

Ting, Wunchi (China)

Cristian Vincent Coban (USA)

Yann Le Du (France)

Fan, Qin (China)

David Filet (France)

Bradley Graham Jackson (Australia)

Sandy Mariko Hoby (New Zealand)

Hanne Rasmussen (Denmark)

Santis Limesz (Latvia)

Bruno P. P. J. De Bueger (Belgium)

De Bueger Thomas E. J. P. (Belgium)

Eric Thauvin (France)

Soudjatta Somaya (France)

High Altitude Climbing Staff:

Penba Dunzhu (Tibet)

Chomba (Tibet)

Tserin Danda (Tibet)

Lobsang (Tibet)

Phubu Tserin (Tibet)

Tashi Namgel (Tibet)

Nima Erjia (China)

Su, Rongqin (China)

Kitchen Staff:

Dang, Xiaoqiang

Bai, Chunxi

Zhang, Jiaying

Ge, Xiaohua

Wang, Xinzhou

Li, Xiaohua

 

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A cold weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand See more here.

 






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