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Mustagata Mountain Climbing Expedition News July 2009, climb Mustagh Ata or Muztagata

(Photos in slideshow: Urs Jaeggi, Jon Otto, Kristine O'Brien, and Gary Kellund)
News of our recent expedition: Mustagata Climb
4-27 July, 2009

Please view more information about our upcoming Mustagh Ata expeditions . We are now accepting applications for the summer of 2010, so please come on out again.

Dispatches: Please click one of the links below to go directly to that dispatch or just scroll down.

25 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon Otto calling from Mustagata basecamp for the SummitClimb 2009 expedition.

Everybody is down here safe and sound. Yesterday, we got lucky with the weather. Pamela, Maurice, Andreas, and I all summited around 1:00 p.m. Our high altitude guide, Asu, broke trail for the second time within 3 days to the summit. Pamela was super-woman. She sped up there breaking trail behind Asu.

We are now stripping the mountain. This is our last day here. The local people, the Kirghiz, are all hanging around our basecamp trying to sell their wares.

The team is packing up, relaxing, drinking beers, and doing the regular basecamp life.

It was a great expedition! We’ll be sending in more reports and photos in a few days once we’re off the mountain. Right now I’ve got to go and help pack up basecamp. Have a great day. Bye. back to top



Pamela returning from the summit, SUCCESS! Andreas on the summit with Asu in the foreground. Asu on the summit getting ready to ski down. Asu skiing down from the summit. Sajan getting to board down from camp 3 after a successful summit (Photos by Jon Otto).

23 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon calling in for the SummitClimb Mustagata expedition from camp 3 again.

We had a big snow dump last night, so we stayed here at camp 3 all day. Hopefully tomorrow morning we will be able to go to the summit. It’s Heiko, Maurice, Pamela, Annette, me and a few of our high altitude staff up here. We’re going to try again to get a 5:00 a.m. start tomorrow morning if the weather is good. The tents are all covered with snow, but everyone is feeling good and healthy.

We’ll talk to you again soon. Okay, time to go to bed now. Good night. back to top

Our sturdy and comfortable camp 3. Members approaching the summit. Maurice returning from the summit, SUCCESS. Jon Otto and Asu on the summit (Photos by Jon Otto)
22 July, 2009


Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon calling in for the SummitClimb Mustagata expedition.

Today Sajan summited, as well the two Danes, Thomas and Jonas, who were doing a self-supported climb. Tony, Peter and the other Thomas got to about 7300 metres.

It started as a beautiful day with light winds and then about noon we got this sudden whiteout with some hail and a lighting storm. Most everybody felt something on their heads, shoulders and backs, so we all got down fast on the slopes and had to lie in the snow for 30-40 minutes while it passed. Everybody is okay and fine, but unfortunately Tony, Peter and Thomas had to come down.

Right now in camp 3 we have Pamela, Annette, Maurice, Heiko, Andreas and me. We’re going to wake up early tomorrow and try to start at first light for our summit bid. Wish us well. I’ll talk to you tomorrow with, hopefully, some good news. The rest of the team is either down in camp 2 or all the way down in basecamp. Okay, bye now. back to top


High altitude staff, Asu, at camp 3. Asu summitted two times in 3 days, breaking trail both times. Jon Otto on the summit. It's just a little windy. Pamela and Tony at basecamp. Basecamp night shot (Photos by Jon Otto).

21 July, 2009

Update 2 - First team in camp 3 going for the summit!

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi this is Jon calling in from camp 2 on Mount Mustagata.

Right now we have Maurice, Heiko, Annette, Pamela, and Andreas, as well as the Denmark team. We’re all here in camp 2 and doing well. The rest of the team is in camp 3 and I believe already in bed. They’re going to try to get up at 3:30 in the morning and get a 6:00 a.m. start for the summit, which is right at sunrise. The weather is supposed to be cloudy with light winds, so we hope it doesn’t get any worse than that. Everybody is filled with a lot of anticipation for the summit and hoping that the weather holds out for us.

We’ll talk to you tomorrow with, hopefully, some good news from camp 3. Now it’s time to drink some mint tea and go to bed. Okay, I’ll call in again tomorrow. Bye now. back to top



Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon calling in again from camp 1 on Mustagata.

It’s a sunny morning with moderate winds. I forgot to mention our Denmark team of 3, who are Thomas, Andreas, and Jonas. They were trying to do a completely self-supported climb on the mountain. A week ago Andreas hurt his knee skiing and he is now joining our team for the summit bid. Thomas and Jonas are up going to camp 3 today to try to summit as well. So those 3 are all good and safe.

The rest of the team is taking off today for camp 3 and we’re about to take off for camp 2. The weather report is iffy, so we’re hoping for the best. Okay, talk to you later. Bye now. back to top

Heiko skiing down from camp 2. Our excellent high altitude staff on the way to camp 1 for the summit push (Photos by Jon Otto).


Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon calling in from camp 1 on Mount Mustagata for the 2009 SummitClimb expedition.

We are now on our summit push, so hopefully this will be the last time we have to spend in camp 1. With me here is Annette and Pamela in one tent, then Maurice and Heiko in another tent. We also have two of our staff, Chen and Lincoln with us.

Overall, everybody is feeling great. The rest of the team is up in camp 2. They are going to try to summit on the 22nd of July and we are going to try to summit on the 23rd of July.

Earlier today the zippers on both of Maurice’s 8000 metre Scarpa boots broke. We had to punch holes all of the way up the front of the boots on both sides and use shoe laces to tie them together. That was the innovation of our cook, which was great.

We just had some minor snow storms that lasted for about 20 minutes. We’re looking forward to going to camp 2 today and the other folks, who are also doing great, will be going to camp 3. The whole team is on the mountain at this point. Okay. Talk to you tomorrow. Bye now. back to top


Skiing from camp 2. Basecamp during sunset. The team eating a delicious meal together in basecamp before the summit push. Jon sorting out the medical kit (Photos by Jon Otto).

20 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon Otto calling in from Mustagata basecamp for the SummitClimb expedition.

Last night we ate lasagna, which was delicious. Our cook Sangjien made a great lasagna and salad for us and everyone enjoyed it.

We’re starting our summit push. Yesterday about half the team went up to camp 1. Today the other half of the team is going up. That’s me, Pamela, Annette, Maurice and Heiko. The rest of the team is already in camp 1 and today they are going to camp 2.

We had a slight storm last night and some really strange weather today. It looks like we’re going to be hit by some more stormy weather, but that’s fine for now as long as it’s bad for the next couple days and not on summit day. So we’re all waiting with anticipation and checking the weather every day and hoping for the best.

Everybody is in good spirits and in good health. It’s a strong team and it’s pretty much up to the weather gods at this point. I’ll call in tomorrow with another report and let you know how we’re all doing. Okay, I have to head up the hill now. Bye, bye. back to top


Skiing from camp 1. Our awesome cook, Samdien, pulling a delicious lasagna out of the oven. Camp 3 after a big snow dump. Our comfortable basecamp (Photos by Jon Otto).

18 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hello, this is Jon Otto calling in from Mustagata basecamp for the 2009 SummitClimb expedition. It is Saturday morning 18 July.

It’s a beautiful day. It wasn’t like this a few days ago. The wind gods were doing their thing. Nothing can ruin a really nice sunny day than a wind storm. It started Wednesday afternoon and blew all Wednesday night into Thursday. Constant gales coming out of the southwest took a lot out of our team. All Thursday night at camp 2 it felt like we were going to be blown off the mountain, but everything held tight. Everybody made it up to camp 2 and had a night there and actually felt pretty good.

We are now down at basecamp resting and eating great food. The first summit team is leaving basecamp tomorrow and hopefully we’re going to try to summit around the 22nd or 23rd, but we have to see what the weather is going to be like. Other than that it’s just normal basecamp life here with team members playing cards, taking showers and reading books.

That’s about it. I’ll call in again soon. Bye now. back to top



Trekking up to basecamp. Trekking to camp 1. Annette enjoying basecamp. Heiko at basecamp (Photos by Jon Otto).

17 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

This is Jon reporting in for the SummitClimb Mustagata expedition.

Right now everybody is on the mountain. It was a beautiful day today with high winds. I’m in camp 1 with Pamela, Annette, Heiko, and Maurice. The rest of the team is up at camp 2. We’re going for our final acclimatization run before we spend a day or two resting in basecamp and then going for the summit. We’ll be on the mountain for a couple more days and then back down at basecamp.

The skiing is getting a little better. We’re having some good freeze-dried food. I hope that we get another 10 days of wonderful weather, but given that we’re in the mountains, I’m not sure if that will happen. I’ll call you tomorrow from camp 2. Good night now. back to top



Our team member's Pamela and Peter. High altitude staff, Yao, shows us hot to work the Portable Altitude Chamber(aka: Gamow Bag). High altitude staff, Lantow (Photos by Jon Otto).

15 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon calling in for the SummitClimb Mustagata expedition from basecamp.

All of the members are safely down in basecamp now. We’ve had a great dinner of chili and rice, followed by some apple pie. Basecamp food is wonderful.

Everyone spent one night at camp 1 acclimatizing and they all seem like they’re doing really well. Although there is a fair amount of snow on the mountain, the quality hasn’t been very good. We’ve been hoping for good snowfall and it seems like we got our wish. Right now I’m sitting in my tent and there’s been lighting and thunder and a bunch of white falling from above. We’ll see how much is on the ground when we wake up in the morning.

Tomorrow morning about half of the team members are going back up to camp 1 for the second acclimatization run. That’s about it for now. I’ll call in again soon.

Everyone is doing great. I can’t send any photos because the internet will be off until the 20th of July. That’s what they are saying now. So I’ll hopefully send a lot of photos very near the end of the expedition. Okay. Good night now. Bye, bye. back to top


Pamela and Annette enjoying tent life. Peter at camp 2. A local boy skier. Maurice putting makeshift shoelaces into his Scarpa boots after both zippers broke (Photos by Jon Otto).

12 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon Otto calling in again for the SummitClimb Mustagata expedition.

We are finally on the mountain, which feels great. It’s still windy out right now. We’re on our way to camp 2. Last night most of the members spent the night in camp 1 and those who didn’t are going to try to come up and spend the night there tonight. We’re doing a carry and acclimatization hike towards camp 2 and are about halfway there right now.

The snow isn’t as much or as good as I thought it was, but hey, that’s life and it’s not bad. The weather has been fairly good and as I call in everyone is doing well. The basecamp food has been wonderful. I’ll call in again in another day or so. Okay, I’ve got to keep going up. Talk to you soon. Bye. back to top



Our comfortable camp 1 just above the snowline. Our team member Heiko. Jon kissing one of sturdy and friendly camels along the trek to basecamp. Our friend Timothee, who we met along the way and joined us for the trek to basecamp. Maurice and Annette ready to head up the mountain. High altitude staff, Chen, making up our route markers (Photos by Jon Otto).

10 July, 2009

Team reports in live (click here to listen)

Hi, this is Jon the leader of the SummitClimb Mustagata expedition. It’s Friday July 10th.

Yesterday everyone was at basecamp doing well. We did some skills training and ate some really delicious food.

Today the weather finally cleared up. The weather gods were pretty nice and now everyone is going up towards camp 1 for an acclimatization hike. I’m surrounded by about 30 local Kirghiz who are all hanging around our camp with their mules and donkeys. They’re going to be carrying a bunch of our equipment up to camp 1 today.

There’s a lot of snow on the mountain. I probably haven’t seen this much snow ever on Mustagata. I think that’s a good thing, especially for the skiers. We’ll see what the conditions are on the mountain when we go up today. We’re really excited about it.

We’ll come back down tonight and I’ll call in again soon. Bye. back to top

Our scenic and comfortable advanced basecamp located just below the snow line. Jon Otto doing some rope and skills training with the team above basecamp. Asu playing on a local's motorcycle (yes, they brought that thing up to basecamp!). Fresh cookies made by our awesome cook, Samdien (Photos by Jon Otto).

8 July, 2009

Hi, this is Jon Otto reporting in for the SummitClimb Mustagata Expedition 2009 for 8 July.

We’re in basecamp. Everyone is doing well. We’re just getting everything set up here in basecamp and putting up all of our tents. The weather isn’t so good, so we’re hoping it will improve so we can start climbing soon. Tomorrow, we will be doing a bit of training on ropes and such to make sure everyone is ready to for going up the mountain. Thanks for following along our expedition. Talk to you soon. back to top


A herd of animals we passed along our trek to Mustagata base camp. A group photo of our fun team of men and women of all ages from around the world in Kashgar (Timothée Colmet Daâge). Camels carrying all of our equipment (Jon Otto). 

7 July, 2009

Hello SummitClimb news, this is Jon Otto, the leader of the Mustagata 2009 expedition.

The team is doing well and we’ve reached acclimatization camp near Karakul Lake at 3600 metres/11,800 feet. We’re going to spend another day here before moving on to basecamp. This morning we hiked around getting used to the altitude and now everybody is drinking tea and sitting in their yurts. The team is getting on great.

So everyone is doing fine and getting excited to reach the mountain soon. We’ll send more news in once we’ve reached basecamp. Thanks for following along our expedition. Bye. back to top


The 3 Danes: Thomas, Andreas, and Jonas. Acclimatization camp at 3,600 metres/11,800 feet. The team having dinner together in Kashgar after orientation. Our team member Tony (Photos by Jon Otto).

Team Roster:

  • Jon Otto (leader) - US
  • Ms. Pamela Pappas - US
  • Ms. Annette Meesters - Netherlands
  • Thomas Lund -  Norway
  • Sajan Holmgren - Norway
  • Heiko Hillgartner - Germany
  • Tony Schuck - Australia
  • Maurice Hickey - UK
  • Thomas Lind - Denmark
  • Andreas Carlsen - Denmark
  • Jonas Andersen - Denmark
  • Peter Sroka - UK back to top
  • Request Info about a trip
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