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  Mustagh Ata 2005: SummitClimb Mustagata Dispatch 5


This is Jonathan Sullivan reporting from Chengdu. On the 15th  I had to depart Mustagh Ata in order to take care of some business here in Sichuan. Tom, aka Big T, decided that Mustagh Ata was not the mountain for him so we hiked out together and returned to Kashgar.


On July 10-11, Urs, Kristine, Gary on one rope team and Aden (Tibetan guide/porter) and I on another rope team ascended from camp 1 to camp 2. The weather was calm and cloudy providing a nice refuge from the intense sun from days prior. We all stayed at camp 2 for two nights acclimatizing. On the second night we were joined by Jon, Matthew, Leo and Yuan Wei. Big T and Ron remained in base camp at this time enjoying 3 square meals a day.



On the 12th Urs and Jon skied up to camp 3 and back down to camp 2 before they ran out of daylight. Yuan Wei, Aden and myself established the first tent at camp 3 after a long day of off and on white-out conditions. The rest of the gang at camp 2 decided to descend and take in several days of rest at base camp before the big summit push.


I had a restless and breathless night of sleep in camp 3 (6170m). I woke up at 5am with a major headache and strong bowel movements. I knocked about 15” of snow off the tent before going outside to do my business. I was unable to push to the summit do to my illness but Aden and Yuan Wei gave the first summit attempt of our expedition. However they turned back after several hours because of poor weather. I decided to descend to basecamp because of my condition and other time contraints. I celebrated in basecamp by having some Jack Daniels with Big T and G Force (Tom and Gary).


The 14th just about everybody was hanging out in basecamp. We enjoyed pancakes and bacon for breakfast and then spent the morning joking with eachother and sorting gear. Clouds came and went throughout the day and it seemed as if the weather was going through a change. Sure enough as I walked out of basecamp toward the Karakoram highway the weather had cooled down but cleared up. It was the first time the mountain was in pure blue sky for the

a week.


As of the 15th when I left, Yuan Wei and Aden were still in camp 3 waiting for further instructions from Jon Otto. The Norweigens were in camp 2 acclimatizing and ready to go higher. Urs was in camp 1 relaxing, acclimatizing, and giving highly informative weather reports via walky-talky. Gary, Kristine, Ron, Leo, Matthew, under the fearless leadership of Jon Otto were packing up and on their way to camp 1. The summit assault has begun by everyone. If the weather holds I think this will be a highly successful expedition.


The SAT phone is still not operational so we will continue to be in suspense for several days. The route has been established and I deem it to be a safe and sound route. The path is layed, the camps are established, the bags are packed, its just time to execute and have fun. Good luck to all! 

~Jonathan L. Sullivan

Personal Dispatches from Mustagh Ata 2005 Expedition:


Hi Michelle, we are resting in basecamp and we’ll start going up to the summit tomorrow. Hope you already have your visa. Everything is going well here. Love, Leo



Hey Nanner, start the grind to the summit tomorrow. Diamox has given me a new altitude attitude. See ya soon and have a great Fanny Ride. ~Ron


Hey Paul, Anna, and JP, we went to camp 2 for a couple of days, came back down to BC to rest for two days. Tomorrow we leave for an attempt: camp 1, camp 2, camp 3-summit. It’s way cool to ski up here. I love my new skis. Love to everyone, ciao, a bien tot. ~Kristine


Hi Eva, Anna, and Laura- Things are going great here. WE’ve been up the mountain for acclimitazation and spent the night the last two days resting in base camp. Tomorrow we start up for the summit push. Wish us luck! I hope everthing is great there and wish I had a Chicken Shack burrito. See you soon. P.S. My lips hurt real bad! ~Gary (G-Force)


Hej Alle, Her er en frisk hilsen framig I kina. Det har vaeret en fantasttisk tur med spaeng dende oplevelsersammenmedet rigtig frisk hold. Jer har valgtatstoppe lidt tidligt fordi sneog spaltenineavet er forhoejt tor mig. Jeg er nu I Kashgar of I hoerer fra mig. Of Jeg skal vist osse huske et stort tillykke till familien pa noerrebro. Mange kaerlige hiisner fra Tom. Xinkiang, Kina.


Hey Mom, Dad, Family and Friends, I’m back in Chengdu. Altough I didn’t make it to the summit I still consider the expedition a success for me. I met wonderful people and helped pioneer a new route on big mountain. Chocolate covered espresso beans have been fueling me higher and higher. Strong like Bull (say with thick Russian accent)! ~Jonathan


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)






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 Aręte 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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