Mustagh Ata 2012 — Sunsets at Camp 1
MM Mustagh Ata — Dispatch 3
Base Camp, 1628 hrs, 10 July 2012
Team Madness is back in base camp after two nights on the mountain. On Sunday, we climbed up to Camp One (most everyone elected to have at least a portion of their gear carried up by either Tibetan or Kyrgyz porters), leaving around 10 am. Having already gone up once, we were familiar with the route except this time our packs were a bit heavier so it was slower going.
(all photos from previous expeditions)
Evenings at camp. MM Collection
We arrived at camp after about five hours of climbing, just in time to get settled into the high-altitude tents and begin melting snow for dinner (freeze-dried meals, surprisingly good) and hot drinks. There are only so many ways to amuse oneself inside a tent at 5450m so after dinner, everyone ducked into their sleeping bags and tried to fall asleep. However, our route faces almost due west so we all had to get out of our warm bags to photograph a brilliant sunset over the Pamirs. By all accounts, it was a fitful night’s sleep, made more so by an hour-long windstorm that gave the tents a good rattle.
Waking up to snow covered tents. MM Collection
The next morning, Monday, we slept in until the morning sun reached the camp at around 0745 and then began preparations for our acclimatization climb up to 6120m Camp 2. Because we had placed Camp 1 higher than usual, the overall distance was shorter but we began climbing steeply right out of camp. Luckily, all the crevasses on the route were filled in this year (normal following a heavy snow year like last winter) so route-finding was pretty straight-forward and we didn’t have to put in any fixed ropes. The team was carrying just the usual supplies we bring anytime we’re moving on the mountain (spare insulating layer, hard shell top and bottoms, some food, an extra pair of gloves) so we made good time despite the steepness of the route, arriving at Camp 2 after four hours. We experienced some occasionally challenging weather along the way, which gave us a good taste of what Mustagh Ata is capable of dishing out, but overall it was good day.
Stunning sunsets at this altitude. MM Collection
After a half-hour at Camp 2, we slogged back down to Camp 1 in about 1.5 hours. Although we had enough time (and energy) to descend all the way to base camp, we decided that another night at Camp 1 would help boost our acclimatization and set us up for a better night’s sleep at Camp 2 later this week. So, despite the allure of good food and comfortable sleeping beds an hour or so below us, we sucked it up and settled in for another night.
Settling in to Camp 1. MM Collection
The morning showed this to be a wise decision, as everyone managed to sleep for most of the night-much better than the previous night. Braving the morning cold, Ted and Hamid descended down to base camp at around 0800 and Chok and Stuart followed about an hour later. The snow was firm — perfect conditions for descending and before we knew it we were sitting in the dining tent, eating an egg sandwich and slurping fresh coffee.
The rest of today has been given over to drying out clothes, washing bodies, and replenishing lost calories. Tomorrow will be another full rest day and then we head back up: Camp 1, Camp 2 and then back to base camp.
~ MM Guide Ted Callahan