"The leader's personality, experience and competence were a key component to the success of this expedition. The logistics and service were good, with a pleasant staff always ready to help and do their best to make our trip run smoothly. We enjoyed the group of international members that came on the expedition and everybody was very respectful with a good sense of humour. SummitClimb provided fast and effective responses by email before the trip, helping us to be well prepared and reassured."
Here is what Kristine from Pennsylvania says:
"Mustagata was a blast. The expedition leader was great, as he knows the language and the culture well. I loved that we took a different route than the other trips."
Here is what Arun from California says:
"The Summitclimb leadership was excellent on the trip, with the leader acting as a mentor to many of the team members. They worked tirelessly to make this trip as perfect as possible for all of us. The Chinese staff were kind and caring, taking good care of us at BC and on the mountain. The organizers in Kashgar were outstanding and extremely efficient. I hope to join SummitClimb on future adventures."
Here is what summiter Gary from New Mexico says:
"Mustagata is an excellent exposure to very high altitude without requiring excessive commitment or extensive technical climbing skills. It makes for a great test before trying something higher. It's also a chance to see really interesting people and cultures that you wouldn't experience on a Himalayan climb in the "typical" areas of Nepal or Tibet. Finally, it's a chance for some great snowshoeing/raquetting, snowboarding and skiing in an amazing location.
The Tibetan sherpas were really great. I've climbed before with Nepalese sherpas, and these Tibetan guys were certainly their equal when it came to their strength, work ethic, and all around helpfulness. They genuinely seemed to have a good time, with infectious smiles. I'd climb again with them any time."
Here is what summiter Urs from Switzerland had to say:
"Overall it was a great experience. Technically it was very easy. For competent off-piste mountain skiiers and snowboarders, I would recommend skis or split board over raquettes/snow shoes, as the way down is very breathtaking.
The challenge of Mustagata is certainly the altitude, rather than the technicality of the terrain. It's more challenging than easy two day or week-long climbs like Island Peak or Kilimanjaro."
These photos were taken on our recent successful expedition where we put 8 members and 5 Sherpas on the summit. Photos in slideshow: Urs Jaeggi, Jon Otto, Kristine O'Brien, and Gary Kellund. For caption information, please visit our Muztagata photo gallery.
SELECTED BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AS "BEST ADVENTURE DESTINATION 2012".
Perhaps the "easiest" 7500 metre/24,600 foot peak in the world, located in China near K2.
Climb, ski, snowboard, snowshoe, and snow-raquette to the summit and down.
One of the highest safest mountains you could climb in just 24 days.
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Recent news: Our July Mustagata expedition was a huge success. Please click here to view news of our expedition. Please also visit our "Archived News" for more stories of past trips.
Please "click here " to watch an exciting 2 minute video clip about skiing on Mustagata.
Please click one of the links below to view that section of our introductory information or just scroll down (photo right by Brad Jackson: Muztagata seen from acclimatization camp at 3600 metres/11,800 feet with Karakul Lake reflecting the mountain).
Introduction: Mustagata is perhaps the easiest 7500 metre/24,600 foot peak in the world to climb and is located in the Chinese Pamirs near K2. This is an easy peak for confident skiers, snowboarders, or snowshoers/racquetters to enjoy. We have chosen to climb the peak in July, a time when the snow conditions are good, the mountain is not too "melted-out", and the route is relatively pristine and clean.
Our proposed schedule allows for a careful and safe ascent, as well as multiple full descents to basecamp (photo right by Jon Otto: Urs skies down from the summit on our July climb).
We will review techniques of glacier travel in special training sessions in base camp and camp 1. The actual climbing on this fun peak could be best described as walking on gradual slopes at an average angle of 18 degrees using snowshoes/racquettes, skiis (with climbing skins), or split-board (snowboard with climbing skins) with team members roped-up.
The style of climbing is cautious and careful, with excellent leadership, organization, Sherpa climbers, 'walkie-talkie' radios, satellite telephones, cooks and waiters, tasty food, the best equipment, individual tents for each member in basecamp, a full kitchen in basecamp, 3 camps on the mountain, fixed line, ice and snow anchors, top-quality high altitude tents and high altitude stoves, expedition mix gas, and full safety equipment: medical oxygen, gamow bag, and extensive medical kit.
This expedition maximizes experience gained over eight prior Mustagata expeditions with a strong record of reaching the top of our world's highest peaks. In addition to more than 25 Himalayan expeditions we have an intimate knowledge of the Chinese officials who regulate the permit system, liaison officers, sherpas, cooks, camel drivers, and hoteliers/restaurateurs (photo right by K. O'Brien and G. Kellund:Jon on the way to camp 3).back to top
Leader and staff: During the drive, trek, in basecamp and on the climb, our experienced staff is with you all of the way. Our helpful climbing "sherpas" are some of the best. They are real high-altitude star-performers and very kind. Our western leader is a highly experienced, friendly, and well-organized professional with seven ascents of Muztag Ata. Our skillful basecamp cooks prepare delicious, fresh, tasty food and hot drinks at least 3 times a day.
During the drive and brief trek to basecamp: Our western leader, together with friendly and helpful "sherpas", cooks and local people leading camel caravans carry all of your personal equipment, group equipment, and set up camp near Karakul Lake, prepare and serve delicious meals, so you can relax and acclimatize. You do not need to carry a heavy rucksack during the short trek.
Basecamp: Our cooks and waiters will serve you delicious meals in our comfortable dining tent.
On the mountain: Our western leader and group "sherpas" will fix the route, set up the high camps and carry the group equipment, such as tents, stoves, etc. If you wish to help out, we welcome you to do so, otherwise just relax and focus on getting well acclimated and achieving your goals. You do not need to carry a heavy rucksack during the climb (photo right by Urs Jaeggi: Karakul Lake at 3600 metres/11,800 feet, a spectacular scenic destination along our trek to basecamp).
"Sherpas": We have many group sherpas to help the team. For an additional expense, we can also provide personal sherpas and climbing-guides to individual members who wish to have their own private sherpa. We now encourage members who wish to have a lighter rucksack to hire a 1/4 of a sherpa to help with high altitude equipment transport, carrying your extra weight both up and down the mountain. For more about sherpas, please click here. back to top
Mustagata National Park: The park is situated among rolling, vast green short-grass and boulder strewn valleys leading up to the base of the mountain in the Chinese Pamir. The Pamir is a high plateau located at the crossroads of several of Asia’s largest mountain ranges: the Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Tian Shan. Affinities with all three mountain ranges encourages a variety of species. Furthermore, the Pamir’s high vertical relief, compared to the larger Tibetan Plateau that lies to the east, increases habitat diversity as well. Biodiversity is relatively abundant.The environment is beautiful and stark, inhabited with wild birds and animals. You start in tufted grasslands with small pools, pockets and streams of water originating form melting snow off the Chinese Pamirs. Upon reaching basecamp, you begin walking upwards towards camp 1 where the vegetation changes to become more rocky with scenic alpine sedge-meadows lying below. Inhabiting the national park are the nomadic pastoral groups of the Kirghiz and Tadzhik. They live in yurts in the summer and mud houses in the winter, relying on herding sheep and goats, riding horses and camels. The men and women dress in 1940's formal attire. There are many interesting villages of both groups we will be visiting during our expedition, as some of our staff come from these communities. Animals in the park consist of marmots, wild sheep, goats, ibex, snow leopards, and countless varieties of birds (photo right by K. O'Brien and G. Kellund: Kristine O'Brien trekking up from basecamp to camp 1 at 5400 metres/17,700 feet).
Getting to Kashgar. To reach Kashgar, there are many travel options. Our experienced Chinese office is very skilled at doing so, as they have been organizing tours there since 1986. Your hosts will greet you at the Kashgar airport or train station and welcome you with a delicious Chinese style feast and a much deserved night’s sleep at your comfortable hotel. Please review the various travel options available. back to top
Drive and brief trek to basecamp: From Kashgar the team boards a bus for the drive to Karakul Lake. By the side of the Karakoram Highway, at 3,600 metres/11,800 feet, you will unload all of your equipment from the buses and camp next to the lake. This is our acclimatization camp for the next 1 day/2 nights, as we rest and perhaps take light walks in the surrounding hills and go through orientation and safety procedures. The following morning we take a short drive before we load your equipment onto camels for the trek. These sturdy beasts are led by their gentle shepherds, the "Kirghiz" people, and carry your belongings on a 2-3 hour walk to basecamp, while you accompany on foot carrying nothing. You reach basecamp at 4500 metres/14,800 feet late in the day, have a tasty hot meal and lots of hot drinks, as you rest and acclimate to the increase in altitude (photo right by K. O'Brien and G. Kellund: This is Kristine O'Brien and Gary Kellund resting at camp 2, 6200 metres/20,300 feet). back to top
Basecamp: Features your own private sleeping tent that will be all your own, not needing to be shared with anyone. We have comfortable dining tents with tables and chairs where our cooks and waiters will serve you delicious meals.
Climbing to the high camps:
Camp 1 at 5400 metres/17,700 feet is located just above the snow line. The trail there is mainly loose stones, usually snow-free and is done in leather walking boots with good ankle support (high altitude mountaineering boots are required above camp 1). Skiers can start skinning up at about 5000 metres/16,400 feet when we reach the snow. Snowshoes (racquettes), skis (with climbing skins) or a split-board (with climbing skins) are required above 5000 metres/16,400 feet for all team members ascending Mustagh Ata. Snowshoes/racquettes may be rented from SummitClimb in Kashgar for $75, £40, or €50 if you do not have your own. If you have never snowshoed/racquetted, it's very easy and you can learn it on the mountain in a few hours. These slopes are lightly crevassed, so all team members are expected to be roped above camp 1. No solo-climbing, nor descending alone above camp 1 will be permitted. For descending above camp 1, snowshoes/racquettes, skis, or a snowboard are required. If you will be skiing or snowboarding you must be competent in a variety of mountain terrain. Line is generally fixed from the snow line up to camp 1 (photo right by Jon Otto: Our team member Brad raquetting/snowshoeing between camp 2 and camp 3).
Camp 2 at 6170 metres/20,300 feet is located on a nearly flat snow plateau. It is not normally necessary to use fixed lines here, although we are prepared to fix them in case one of the tiny crevasses might open wide enough. This happens occasionally. back to top
Camp 3 at 6800 metres/22,300 feet involves traversing some of the gentlest slopes on the mountain, often below 10 degrees. It’s a very easy place to snowshoe/racquette, ski or snowboard, but there are crevasses in this area, so all safety precautions must be used, including traveling together as a roped team and use of bamboo marker wands.
Rest Days: We will be taking a lot of them throughout the expedition. On rest days we encourage you to concentrate on recovering, eating and drinking, to read, relax, listen to music and stroll around visiting other teams.
Summit attempt: You head out of camp early roped together with your snowshoes/racquettes, split-board (snowboard with climbing skins) or skis (with climbing skins). If you are planning to snowboard down, you will be snowshoeing up carrying the board on your back or using your split-board. It takes 4 to 8 hours to reach the summit (7,546 metres/24,750 feet) from camp 3. The slope begins at 18 degrees then lessens to 5 degrees. The route up is big and wide with very few crevasses, although you will continue to be roped-up for safety. We walk up to a col, which is a "false summit", threading a needle between two large crevasses, and continue up to the left of the col to the main summit. Upon reaching the summit, you can look at the marvelous views in every direction toward Pakistan and Rakaposhi, into the K2 area, across to the Tien Shan range, and even into Afghanistan. This is an invigorating place from which to view the planet (photo right by Jon Otto: Dan and Walter on the summit. There are a few rocks here, so its easy to find the 7546 metre/24,750 feet summit on the broad flat snow plateau at the top of the mountain. This was a clear, sunny and windy summit day back to top
Who is this trip for?
We encourage men and women from around the world, of all ages to join us as an individual team member or with your own group, whether that is your spouse, partner, friends, sibling, clients, colleagues, etc. Most of our members join as individuals, our team dynamics work well, and we are able to build successful and safe groups of people that enjoy trekking, climbing, and traveling together.
During the Mustagata expedition, we will review techniques of glacier travel in special training sessions in base camp and camp 1. Our training covers ascending and descending ropes safely, using snowshoes/racquettes, ice-axe and crampons, etcetera (photo right by K. O'Brien and G. Kellund: Our team after a successful season on the mountain).
Some prior experience in glacier travel with ice-axe, crampons and rope would be helpful. A short glacial travel course would cover the necessary skills.
To participate in this expedition you must be a very fit and active winter-walker in good health. Prior to joining, please see your doctor and obtain the necessary permission and advice. back to top
Please "click" one of the links on the column on the upper right of your screen under "Mustagata" to learn more about our expedition.