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Peru with Mountain Madness

Mustagh Ata 2012 — China Expedition On Its Way!

The Moun­tain Mad­ness 2012 Mustagh Ata trip is well under­way. Every­one arrived in Kash­gar in good form (and, almost as impor­tant­ly, so did all our lug­gage). On Day 1 the team went up to Shipton’s Arch, the world’s largest nat­ur­al arch (big enough to fly a 747 through). A beau­ti­ful spot and good for acclimatizing.

(all pho­tos from pre­vi­ous expeditions)

Guide Ted Calla­han mak­ing friends with the locals. Beth Wald photo

Day 2 involved a tour of all the clas­sic sights in Kash­gar: the Sun­day bazaar, the ani­mal mar­ket, Id Kah mosque, the tomb of the Kho­jas, and the Uyghur old town. The heat of the day was reme­died with beers at John’s Café and then a tra­di­tion­al Uyghur din­ner – lagh­man, pilau, man­tu, and kebabs. Yes­ter­day we drove four hours through stun­ning moun­tain scenery to reach our acclima­ti­za­tion camp, locat­ed on the banks of Bash Kol (Head Lake). After pitch­ing camp, Team Mad­ness went for a walk along the big­ger near­by lake (Kara Kol – Black Lake) and then had a Chi­nese feast at a local restaurant. 

Mustagh Ata. MM Collection

Today was our last acclima­ti­za­tion day before the push to base camp. While the oth­er teams opt­ed to walk up a near­by hill, the Mad­ness had a more elab­o­rate plan: we arranged to rent four motor­bikes from the local Kyr­gyz so that we could reach the high sum­mer pas­tures of the Kyr­gyz with­out spend­ing sev­er­al hours walk­ing there. Three of us need­ed dri­vers but Stu­art H, with his Aussie farm­ing back­ground, proved to be an ace dri­ver – so much so that even the nor­mal­ly blasé Kyr­gyz were impressed by his skills.

A local woman mak­ing katyk chai tea. MM Collection

Felt yurts in the pas­tures. MM Collection

After an hour we arrived at the 3900 meter sum­mer camp (jailoo), sit­u­at­ed among glo­ri­ous pas­toral scenery at the base of Mustagh Ata. A brief repast of katyk chai (black tea with salt and yak milk) and fresh­ly-baked bread fol­lowed and then we hiked up to the snow­line (4300 meters – the approx­i­mate ele­va­tion of base camp). We coast­ed down­hill (to con­serve gas) to a Kyr­gyz lunch (hand-made noo­dles) in a felt yurt. This after­noon, after a brief rest, we reviewed high alti­tude med­i­cine and went back to the restau­rant at the lake for anoth­er Chi­nese din­ner. I had been asked by the local Kyr­gyz to do a show-and-tell of my pho­tos and video from Kyr­gyz com­mu­ni­ties in oth­er parts of Cen­tral Asia, which proved huge­ly pop­u­lar. Anoth­er ear­ly night to bed under a bril­liant fir­ma­ment com­plete with Mustagh Ata illu­mi­nat­ed by a full moon. 

~ MM Guide Ted Callahan

Ted’s show-and-tell. Beth Wald photo

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