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Mustagata Mountain Climbing Expedition News July 20101, 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
3-27 July, 2010

Please view more information about our upcoming Mustagh Ata expeditions . We are now accepting applications for the summer of 2011, so please come on out again.

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

24 July, 2010

It was noticeably colder tonight. Was it clearing? Yes! We got ready at 5:30 a.m. as planned. It was perfectly clear. As we packed up we noticed our usual spark and drive wasn’t there. Spending 2 nights so high slowly drained our strength. We made the decision to descend. By the time we packed everything up it appeared we were in a blizzard. Fortunately we placed bamboo wands, which are garden stakes with colourful ribbons, at periodic intervals for such a situation to mark our descent.

It was a long day, but everything went smoothly on descent and we got back to basecamp for one last great feast prepared by our awesome cook, Samdien. It’s great to be back at the low elevation of 4500 metres/14,500 feet. Everyone is happy and extremely fulfilled with what we accomplished: Kaley for what may be the highest peak of his climbing career and Bill to check out high altitude mountaineering and play with different equipment options, such as innovative and totally improvised overboots. Tomorrow we go back to Kashgar. Thanks for following along our expedition. back to top

23 July, 2010

Unfortunately, we awoke to heavy clouds and about 20 inches of new snow. The SummitClimb team elected to wait a day and hope for better weather while our companions, Shy and the Mountain Madness team, decided to take a stab at it. They knew they were not likely to make it very far, but hoped to set an altitude record for the 13 year old Alex, which they did by making it to 7000 metres/23,000 feet. Congratulations!

We passed the time slowly at 22,000 feet having left all heavy items such as books or playing cards back in basecamp, which would have helped. Even though we’re high, the fog layer holds the heat and in the afternoon it is actually quite hot in the tents. We are going to bed early still hopeful. back to top

21 July, 2010

We are truly alone on this mountain now -- it's a great feeling! No more groups planned for this season. The Euros have finished and the solo Swedish woman has moved to the other more frequented route. Bill and Kaley set out for camp 2 midmorning followed by Hart's group on skis. A little later Lobsong and Zhasee followed catching up and passing everyone, of course.

Lantou, Asu, and I were sweep. All members seem to be in great spirits and really good shape. Even Annouck who was having some minor altitude problems is charging up the hill and reports that she feels fantastic. Pierro sets a great track up amd maintains a slow steady pace. Hart is viewing this a training climb for bigger mountains and is handling the altitude well. Bill and Kaley are enjoying their last night in a tent for 2 as tomorrow I join them at high camp. We try to conserve weight and strength by having only the minimum tents necessary. Wish us well.

Tomorrow we break new ground up to camp 3 and then beyond!

Mike back to top

19 July, 2010

We descended to rest in base camp and prepare for the summit push for Kaley and Bill. Weather reports predict wind, clouds and a small bit of snow for the 20-22nd. This will not be a problem as this will be when we are climbing the lower reaches of the mountain. But the 23rd and 24th look to be great days for a summit attempt from high camp. The 23rd is our first choice and the 24th is a backup if the weather changes. Samdien made a great birthday cake for Pierre. Today, the 20th we easily climbed back to camp 1. We're strong! Its amazing how much snow has melted low down since last time. All of us are in camp 1 now -- Bill, Kaley, the Mountain Madness group, Jon Hart, Annouck, and Pierro plus our 4 climbing Sherpa. Hart's group will go to camp 2 as we did earlier for a couple days, while we will carry on higher. back to top

17 July, 2010

This is Mike Browder calling in with a dispatch for the SummitClimb 2010 Mustagata expedition for the 16th and 17th of July.

Yesterday was a tough day climbing to camp 2. This starts with a steep rise right out of camp 1 which continues for a ways. The weather and snow conditions were excellent for using snow shoes, clear skies and not too hot. Bill, Kaley and I made it in roughly 5 hours, which is good time. Today we elected to stay in camp 2 acclimatizing. 

Thanks for following along our expedition.  back to top

Skiing down from camp 2. (Photo by Jon Otto).
15 July, 2010

We must be getting stronger. Bill and Kaley easily walked up to camp 1 more quickly than the first time without even trying. Conditions were excellent today, sunny, not too much wind, and the snow firm enough to not need snowshoes. It's downright balmy at camp 1! Annouck, Hart, and Pierro skied up to camp 1 for the day and hit the beautiful corn snow perfectly for the descent to crank some great turns down again. At the moment it's great spring skiing! Tomorrow camp II for Bill and Kaley, camp 1 for Hart, Annouck, and Pierro. back to top

14 July, 2010

Today Pierro, Annouck and Hart walked up to snowline for acclimatization the same as Rod, Bill, and Kaley did a few days ago. Pierro a professional Swiss mountain guide, made a tentative itinerary for the climbing the mountain, and the plan looked excellent. It appears they intend to climb a faster than the first group, but the 3 new arrivals did just climb an 18,000 ft. peak so they should be 'tresen forme' as the Swiss would say. Meanwhile Alex hosted all comers in chess. He is a tough foe at only 13! Samdien continued his fine work making pizza one night and apple pie another. Great Way to prepare for going higher. back to top

13 July, 2010

Today we hiked down to  base camp for a well deserved rest. Everyone seems to be acclimatizing very well. Life up high is fun but it’s great to be back to the base camp for a more regular diet.

Our 3 other members arrived today: Jon Hart, Annouck, and “Pierro” (short for Pierre Oliver). Jon is English and Annouck and Pierro are Swiss. Pierro is a Swiss guide that Jon hires to take him around the globe. What a life, eh?! They are on a different acclimatization schedule than the earlier arriving members, Bill and Kaley but Jon’s team recently climbed Elbrus, one of the Seven Summits, so they should hopefully have some residual acclimatization and be moving up high shortly.

Today was a lovely day for coming back to base camp and sunning. The weather promises to be good for the next couple of days. The original 3 intend to head up to Camp I in 2 days and on to Camp II while Jon, Annouck and Pierro will go up to Camp I the same day but returning to base as their initial acclimatization effort.

I, Mike, was forced to shave today after 2 of our high altitude sherpas, Zhasee and Asu took turns drawing me revealing what I really looked like: a bit beyond the ‘grizzled mountain man’ stage. (They are actually quite good artists based on other sketches of theirs, so I guess I can’t complain about their drawings of me! back to top

12 July, 2010

We awoke this morning to more snow and clouds, but now the sun has come out and it’s glorious. All of the members came through the night in fine form. That’s not always the case the first night at this high of altitude.

Unfortunately for the rest of the group, Rod has decided that snow shoeing and tent camping is not for him. He has elected to return to Kashgar, then Australia.  We all like Rod, so we will miss him.

Thanks for following our expedition! back to top

 Our comfortable camp 1 just above the snowline (Jon Otto).

11 July, 2010

Hello all! We made the big move to camp 1 today. Everyone did very well, especially since we had some new snow and trail breaking was more difficult than the day before. We arrived just as the weather turned, which made our tents all the more cozy and inviting. For most of the team, it was their first experience cooking with the high altitude stoves. Now as night approaches it is relatively warm because of cloud cover. It should be an excellent introduction to snow camping. That’s all for now. back to top

10 July, 2010

July 9:  From ABC

Hello all. Everyone is getting visibly excited as our first test approaches. Tomorrow we go up! Today we have spent time organizing our gigs, altitude quick cook food with each member selecting their favorite foods from out stash.

Speaking of food, Rod says that our kitchen is providing the best food he’s had in China. Also today Rod decided to do a wall today nearly to snow line. Bill and Kaley are spending the afternoon going over exactly which stuff they are sending to camp 1 with the local porters. Lots of nitty-gritty, but soon the fun begins!

Mike B. back to top

July 10:  From ABC

5330 meters. 17,480 feet. This is our high point today on our acclimatization walk. We could have gone the other hour to camp 1… (lost text). Set an excellent early pace, and later Bill took over. Rod was content to draft and conserve energy for the days ahead. All felt great so hopefully tomorrow we come back up for our first camp away from the luxuries of base camp. 

Mike B. back to top

8 July, 2010

Hello Friends,

This is Mike with Summit Climb again. We are at BC resting and training. Last night Samdian our cook made us a great meal even fresh salad.  At the moment we are reviewing how to travel on fixed ropes plus posing up for the glacier. Weather continues to be fantastic.

Kaley and Bill have elected to camp next to each other in spite of Kaley’s comments about Bill’s snoring. Rod has taken it easy today doing some laundry and relaxing listening to music.  We have the base camp almost to ourselves, just one other friendly mixed European team.  We’ll have one more rest day before we try to climb higher. back to top

7 July, 2010

Hello Everybody,

We continue to have beautiful weather here at Karakol Lake, perfect for taking pictures. Today we pack up and will hike the 3 to 4 hours to Base Camp. Looks like a great day for an introductory hike which will start preparing our bodies for the rigors ahead. We’ll be curious to see if there is snow at base camp as from here it looks like the snow line extends somewhat low this year.

Most of our support staff went up to Base Camp yesterday bringing up the members ‘and group equipment and getting camp ready. Asu, our sirdar, will accompany us on our hike today, and Lonktu will go with the 3 camels that carry some incidentals to the camp today.

Rodney has had it lucky with a tent to himself, while Bill and Kaley sharing a tent have been exchanging snoring stories. But soon at base camp each member will be able to stetch out in their own tent and start organizing their equipment for the coming climb.

Stay tuned! back to top

 

 

Our reliable camel transport (Jon Otto). Our acclimatization camp at Karakul Lake (Jon Otto). Members doing yoga at Karakul Lake with Mt. Gongar behind them (Jon Otto). Our awesome basecamp cook, Samdien (Jon Otto).

5 July, 2010

Hello Friends, Family, and other Followers:

This is Mike Browder of Summit Climb on the 2010 Summit Climb Mustaghata Expedition. Today is the first real day of the expedition. We left the city of Kashgar for beautiful Karakul Lake at the base of the mountain. All members arrived in Kashgar a couple of days ago with no missing baggage or any other major problems fortunately . It’s quite a contrast between the hot desert of Kashgar  and the foothills  here where we even had a few snowflakes fall during a beautiful sunset. The mountain stretches out in front of us with the route plainly visible and it looks in great shape, very skiable or snowshoeable, and beckoning us upward.

Tonight  we get to try out the high altitude tents: Billy and Kaley together of course, and Rodney nearby. Everyone is in great spirits and clearly excited to be so near such a large mountain.

Tomorrow we will start with some medical training (the Gamow bag, and some other things), letting our bodies get used to the altitude here before we ascend higher to base camp on the 7
th.

More to follow.  back to top

Team photo (Jon Otto). Team learning how to use the Gamow bag (mike Browder).

Team Roster

  • Mike Browder (leader) - US/France
  • Jon Otto (leader) - US/China
  • David Clark - Australia
  • Rodney Mann - Australia
  • Kaley Erickson - US
  • Bill Moton - US
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