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