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Mountain Madness Climber

Mustagh Ata 2012 — Moving to Camp 1

MM Guide Ted Calla­han checked in this week­end with anoth­er dis­patch from our Mustagh Ata expe­di­tion! Hope­ful­ly we will hear from them today or tomor­row with news of hav­ing already reached Camp 2. Good luck to the team!

MM 2012 Mustagh Ata Expe­di­tion — Dis­patch 2

Here we are at the end of our first rest day after being up on the moun­tain. We hiked up to base camp on Wednes­day, although hik­ing might be a bit gen­er­ous of a descrip­tion – since the bus dropped us off far from the start of the actu­al hike, we opt­ed to catch a ride up to the last Kyr­gyz sum­mer camp (Chal­ta­mak). From Chal­ta­mak, we had a brisk 1.5 hour walk up to base camp. Our local staff had come up the day before and so most of the camp infra­struc­ture had already been estab­lished. All that was left to do was to set up a few more tents and await the arrival of the lug­gage, being car­ried upwards on the four (Bac­tri­an) camels and one donkey. 

(all pho­tos from pre­vi­ous expeditions)

At camp. Ebner/​Farnan photo

The team felt good, large­ly thanks to our acclima­ti­za­tion motor­bike ride/​hike the day before, as evi­denced by the amount of chick­en stir-fry we con­sumed that night. 

Thurs­day was a rest day, to allow us to bet­ter accli­mate to our new sleep­ing alti­tude. We dis­trib­uted food for up on the moun­tain, dou­ble-checked our gear, and dis­cussed a few mat­ters ger­mane to climb­ing a 7500+ meter moun­tain. After anoth­er deli­cious din­ner, we tucked in ear­ly in antic­i­pa­tion of our first trip to Camp 1 the fol­low­ing day. 

Mov­ing up to camp. Ebner/​Farnan photo

Fri­day saw a con­tin­u­a­tion of the high pres­sure we’ve been enjoy­ing – warm weath­er, blue skies, and mild winds. Every­day we’ve tucked into a hot break­fast expert­ly pre­pared by our cook, San­di­an (from Lhasa, Tibet), and his two able assis­tants. Fri­day was no excep­tion: fried eggs, pan­cakes, and a slice of Chi­nese mys­tery meat. Depri­va­tion this ain’t: we’ve got fresh meat and veg­eta­bles, an oven (yes, real­ly), and seem­ing­ly end­less condi­ments (maple syrup, Tabas­co, ketchup and mus­tard, etc). 

We were mov­ing uphill by 10am. The first part of the route to Camp 1 is on loose scree – not hard, but a pain in the butt in our boots. At around 4900 we hit the snow line and put on snow­shoes. Seemed like it might have been the first time for a few of us but luck­i­ly snow­shoe­ing isn’t too hard to pick up, so after a cou­ple hun­dred meters every­one was mov­ing like pros. After about four hours after leav­ing base camp, we arrived at the nor­mal 4300 meter Camp 1 site. How­ev­er, owing to a lot of snow this year, we opt­ed to estab­lish Camp One high­er, at around 4450 meters. But for our acclima­ti­za­tion, 4300 meters was suf­fi­cient, so after caching the gear we had brought up, we slogged down­hill back to base­camp were an amaz­ing hand-made, fresh-baked piz­za await­ed us. Four hours up, one hour hang­ing around, one hour down. 

Approach­ing Camp 1. MM Collection

Today, Sat­ur­day, was anoth­er rest day. None of the team seemed espe­cial­ly tired from the pre­vi­ous day’s exer­tions but all of us under­stood that we had to relax and give our bod­ies a chance to adjust to both the alti­tude and the amount of ener­gy we are exert­ing. For the first time, the weath­er had gone south on us and we awoke to snow-cov­ered tents. We idled away the day, repair­ing gear, prac­tic­ing rope-team and fixed-rope trav­el, and pack­ing for the mor­row. By late after­noon, the weath­er improved and we had spec­tac­u­lar views of the sur­round­ing Pamir Moun­tains, stretch­ing away into Tajik­istan and Afghanistan. Tomor­row we will spend our first night at Camp 1 and then on Mon­day we’ll head towards Camp 2 to accli­ma­tize before return­ing to base camp (or pos­si­bly anoth­er night at Camp 1). So, look for the next dis­patch on Mon­day or Tuesday.”

~ MM Guide Ted Callahan

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