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  Mustagh Ata 2005: SummitClimb.com Mustagata Dispatch 4 with nice pictures


This is Jon Otto in Tashgeragan. I came down from basecamp today to send this dispatch since our sat phone is not working. I go back up to basecamp first thing tomorrow morning. We established camp 2 yesterday at 6180 meters. This new route seems pretty straightforward so far. We will see what lies between camp 2 and camp 3. From camp 3 to the summit it pretty much follows the same line as the traditional route.


Yesterday, while the Tibetan climbers were digging a platform for another tent at camp 1, a huge hole opened up. They had dug down about 4 feet. I rappelled (abseiled) into the crevasse to assess its dimensions. It shot across the slop but was a distance from our tents. Never the less, we were all surprised to find a crevasse so near our camp. All members are prepared to rope-up above camp 1, which is where they are now.


The route from camp 1 to camp 2 follows the huge glacier that cuts the mountain in half to the left and somewhat broken up ice fields to the right. This middle section that we go up is very, very, wide and a constant low angle slope. I find it quite impressive because you look over at the sheer ice and rock wall that is cut into the mountain by the middle glacier.



Today, Ron, Gary, Tom, Leo, and Kristine went to sleep at camp 1, and tomorrow they are going to climb towards camp 2, then return to camp 1 for another night. Matthew went up yesterday and Urs may be up there today or go tomorrow. All members are feeling good and appear to be acclimatizing well. Jonathan and Wei helped push the route to camp 2 yesterday. Their next time up the mountain they plan to go for the summit. They got to basecamp several days before the rest of the group and a jump on the acclimatization game. Let's hope the weather holds. So far this year the weather has been pretty good. We generally get a little snow and winds for a couple hours in the afternoon, then it clears up and we get splendid sunsets. Today, there was almost no wind and nearly no clouds. Climbing between camps in the snow required short sleeves.


Kristine, Urs, and I are skiing. You can start skinning up at 5050 meters. The snow conditions are pretty ideal all the way to camp 2. Those two are pretty good skiers and I expect they will flash down from camp 2 in no time, all on completely fresh powder. It is a sweet run.


Urs, who is a pilot, is our radio (walkie-talkie) guru. The only problem is we are having trouble keeping up with all the fancy lingo. Kristine and Gary are keeping the rest of us entertained by talking about their families, movie blurbs, and more. They are quite the comedy routine. I don't know what I am at liberty to say and not so I will stop here. "My lips hurt real  bad". Matthew, our youngest climber, is also our pickiest eater, strong and silent. Ron has two speeds - fast and fast. We are thinking of loading him up with extra gear. Tom is enjoying basecamp amenities, and I believe he christened the shower tent. I like learning about Denmark from him and about his job. Leo is always a welcome smile and keeps us apprised of fascinating tidbits about the world.


Our Tibetan staff has been fabulous, and we already have almost all the tents on the mountain. Our head Tibetan climber, Adin, studied English for a year in New Zealand and loves Reggie music, which keeps the rest of us entertained as well.


At basecamp we eat in a Tashik style yurt. This is my first time where the eating tent is a yurt, and I must say that it is quite the nice set-up, much preferred over flapping nylon. The cook has been pumping out hearty meals and at times interesting combos, such as French fries (chips) for breakfast. The French toast (eggy bread) with syrup for breakfast has been a big hit.


The next dispatch we make will be around July 16. Hopefully we will be able to make another sooner, but if not don't worry. Jonathan Sullivan's departing words. "I feel strong like bull. I think we are ALL strong like bull." (Add accent for ultimate effect).


Cheers from all of us on Mustagata,  Jon Otto


Team Roster:

Matthew Philliskirk (UK)

Jaggi Urs Walter (SWITZERLAND)

Jonathan Sullivan (USA) - Guide

Ronald Lester (USA)

Gary Charles Kellund (USA)

Yuan, Wei (CHINA)

Tom Jorgensen (DENMARK)

Leonardo Rub (USA)

Kristine O'brien (USA)

Jon Otto (USA) - Leader


Norwegian Father/Son team:

Espen Bjertness

Marius Bergsmark Bjertness


Tibetan Climbing Staff:

Awang Larpu (Adin)

Dorje Kasang

Tenzing Seeching

Awang Denje



Cook Staff:

Dang, Xiaoqiang (head cook)






 Team Roster:

Matthew Philliskirk (UK)

Jaggi Urs Walter (SWITZERLAND)

Jonathan Sullivan (USA) - Guide

Ronald Lester (USA)

Gary Charles Kellund (USA)

Yuan, Wei (CHINA)

Tom Jorgensen (DENMARK)

Leonardo Rub (USA)

Kristine O'brien (USA)

Jon Otto (USA) - Leader


Norwegian Father/Son team:

Espen Bjertness

Marius Bergsmark Bjertness


Tibetan Climbing Staff:

Awang Denje

Dorje Kasang

Tenzing Seeching


Awang Larpu


Cook Staff:

Dang, Xiaoqiang (head cook)



Background: MUSTAGATA

Often Spelled: "Muztagata, or Mustagh Ata, or Muztaghata, or Muztagh Ata or Muztag Ata" Located in China, near K2.

1 July to 23 July , 23 days in China in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

This is Jonathan Christian Otto, the leader of Mt. Mustagata (7546 meters, 24,751 feet) this summer for our SummitClimb expedition. I am in Lhasa right now helping put together our Everest north expedition. The same strong Tibetan climbers we are using on Everest we will use on Mustagata to carry equipment up the mountain and set-up our camps. We hope you will be able to join our international team of men and women. We have had a lot of success on Mustagata. I have climbed it five times (4 summits), and our last expedition (July 2004) put 5 members and 2 Sherpas on the summit..

This year we will place our basecamp away from the crowd. The normal basecamp is crowded and soiled. At our new basecamp there will be only a few teams at most (we may be the only team) which makes for more sanitary conditions and will allow us to concentrate fully on the climb. From here it is a slightly different route up to camp 3 than from the normal basecamp. The conditions are very similar – non-technical, low angle snow slope (10 to 20 degrees) with few crevasses. 

Mustagata is a very high mountain. It is a great way to test your ability to cope with high altitude in a relatively short period of time.

July is the best time to climb, as its not so snowy as in June and not so icy as in August. We travel roped together and everyone on our team is either on snowshoes or skis for additional safety.

Our fantastic cook staff has much experience and has been with us for many years. They cook nutritious and tasty meals and have a great attitude. They do a good job paying attention to our health and hygiene so we can put our energies towards climbing the mountain.

We offer a full-service climb or a basic climb option. For the full-service climb we supply all mountain services: Permits, all equipment and food on the mountain (tents, stoves, gas, ropes, etc.), Sherpa support, basecamp meals, medical supplies, and more. All you have to bring is your personal climbing clothing, equipment and snack food. For our basic climb we take care of your permits and get you and your equipment to basecamp. Then it is up to you on how you wish to climb the mountain. You will still get access to our detailed route information and expertise throughout the climb.

Mustagata is part of the Pamirs on the old Silk Road (present day Karakoram Highway) connecting Kashgar in China to Islamabad, Pakistan. The local people are Khergiz and Tashiks. The Khergiz are nomadic shepherds who live in yurts and graze their camels, yaks, and sheep on the large grasslands around Mustagata, Mt. Gongar, and Karakul Lake.

Getting to the mountain is convenient and you have several options.

1.    Fly into China (Beijing, Shanghai, or Honk Kong) and then take the plane

or train to Kashgar. We will meet in Kasgar and go to the mountain together.

2.    Enter from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan overland via the Turugart pass. We will

meet you at the border and take you to Kashgar.

3.    Go overland from Islamabad along the Karakarum highway and meet us at the mountain.

Most members fly into Kashgar since this is the most convenient option. Jon Otto and Daniel Mazur

More About Mustagata Leader Jonathan Christian Otto:

Jon has been on top of Mustagata 4 times. Thrice by the normal ski-snowshoe route, and once via a daring new route on the east ridge. He is an extremely experienced leader, a real gentleman and a strong climber. Jon’s specialty is China and Tibet, including all of the Himalaya therein. He currently lives in Sichuan, China, speaks proficient Mandarin, and is a major player in the development of climbing in China. Jon personally knows and works with all governmental mountaineering agencies in China and Tibet. He has traveled the length and breadth of China and Tibet, including many remote and border areas.

His organizational skills are superb, and he has developed extensive contacts throughout Asia. Jon is a partner in Arête Alpine Instruction Center, a burgeoning climbing school in Chengdu which was started to address the needs of the rapidly growing climbing community in China.  

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