Dramatic moments on Muztagh Ata
All pictures: Courtesy of Max Bogalytev.
Preparing to move from Camp 3 (6800m)
First fluid in 4 days.
Heavy work down to C2 (6100m).
Rest before taking on the icefall.
It took six people to drag one up, and still it was heavy work.
Checking all the slings and ropes before going down to C1 (5400m)
Swedes (Mats, Peter, Patrick, Jan and others) are carrying one guy to waiting donkeys a
hundred meters or so below.
Heavy work with backpacks on.
Here, there and finally back again. Part 2
I was slowly loosing my Botebangwei. I can't really recall what we did in our tent that night. I think we just layed there, hoping we would avoid any need to go to the toilet right there on the tent floor. :(
The following day we started walking...*sigh*
Now it's here were you guys that don't do alpine climbing say: -And they call it an action sport?
We moved up, slower than the day before. or so it sure felt. The last part up to C3 was long and bloody fucking boring. And just when i had that thought in mind, the weather started to change and clouds were coming in from behind the ridge from the Tadjik side. I was a bit worried about finding our stash, we had a couple of hundred meters to go and suddenly we didn't see much more than the marker wand in front of us. And since it had blown spindrift all night we would sure have to dig alot to get it.
Navigating up on the slope wasn't that difficult. The trail was visible ten meters forward and the marker wands was visible every fifty or so.Eventually, I saw one of our iceaxes sticking out of the snow. We went over there and dug out the rest of the stash. With overloaded backpacks we moved up the final part to C3.
Looking around there wasn't one place at first where i would want to pitch my tent. I looked like a loo. The weather had been pretty good up there for a couple of days so no snow to cover the mess up. We took an old platform that looked like a bunker and dug it out. We thought, at least, that we would be protected against spindrift here.
A big Norwegian grup prepared for their summit attempt that night. We wanted to wait another day and then head up. They started at 2 am, and i think i woke up around that time to give them a thought of good luck, It was significally colder up here than C2, so I would not want to be in their shoes at the time. I sank down in the warmth of my sleeping bag and drifted away.
Daylight came, but we stayed inside almost the whole day. The Norwegians came down one after one. Almost all of the (12 people) had turned back and only 3 pushed on. The made it after 10 cold hours up and 3 down.
I tried to pep myself and Oskar during the day, it was our turn this night. That evening we melted as much snow as we could. We really tried to drink alot of fluid before bed and to prepare as much as possible. The overboots was on our plastic boots and the crampons was mounted.
-Oh man...turn that bloody thing off will you?
We forced ourself to open our eyes. It was pitch black in the tent. I switched on my headlamp and opened the zipper to the vestibule where the stove was. A puff of coooold air hit my face and I just wanted to crawl back in my sleeping bag again. Actually...I was already down in my sleeeping bag. It was my right arm that was outside.
As I told you before and some some of you may know, I'm very lazy in the mornings. And that includes all of my body parts.
Anyway, the gas would not burn at first. Took some time to get the stove going but then it and we were feeling much better. The stove made the temperature rise and it was kind of cozy really.
We dressed slowly and put on many layers. Two layers of thermals, fleece, shell and finally downparka. Balaclava and beanie. No goggles were neeeded but the headlamp with fresh batteries was. We ate some, not much for breakfast. Oskar was trying to force down a pack of freeze dried pasta with little luck. We had some hot chocolate and also loaded a bottle each with that and broguht energy gels, chocolate bars and energybars.
And so we went, Oskar first out of the tent. He had some troubles putting the boots on because all the straps were frozen solid and cursed the boots in a quite creative way. I won't quote.
Off we went. It was blowing pretty steady and rough. We couldn't detect anyt sign of life in camp, no headlights, no voices. We went through and down. I had to concentrate quite a bit to find the right way. The ground was hard just near the camp but when we went further we sank first down to our ankles, a bit further and it was snow up to our knees. I couldn't see more than the headlamps range and even that was quite difficult because of the spindrift. it wasn't snowing, the sky was clear and if I looked up I could see millions of stars above me on the dark sky. But the wind was carrying very fine powder that blurred my vision completely.
I noticed myself going a tad to the left and so i went back again to what I thought was the right path. Then discovered that I was going to far to the right and then my orientation was completely screwed. I saw the blackness of the steep 400 altitude meter ridge towering in front of me so I kind of knew what direction i was going, but where was the first step up on to it? The area we walked on was broad but not that broad. To far to the left and say hello to the abyss. We would fall a couple of hundred meters down and drop down to C2, the hard way.
We had walked, I think, for 20 minutes or so when I called a halt. A quick council with Oskar and we took the descision that it was not safe to continue in the dark of the night . We started walking back to the camp when two lights slowly emerged in front of us. It was two Estonian climber that also were heading up. I explained the situation for them and told them about our plan to head back and start later. They agreed and they joined us back.
The Estonians and I decided to check the weather at 5am and team up if it was good to go. The clock was 4:30 when we crawled back into the tents.I really didn't want to. I took of my boots and fell asleep. i woke up at 6:30, it was late. I looked out. The wind had picked up and our tent walls was pressed in due to the heavy load of snow that had stacked up outside. We couldn't believe this had happened in just two hours! We could actually lean on the tent from the inside and it felt like a brick wall. I punched it with my fist and now it reeally felt like a brick wall !!
No sign that the Estonians had left the camp yet either. A huge wave of tiredness swept over me. The last 8 days had been full of misery so to say. I was tired from the whole trip, of carrying heavy loads every day, not getting enough food and so on. Still i felt like I really could do one more try, I had it in my body.
Oskar plainly said: - Look i can't go up, i'm not strong enough.
Then we had three options as I saw it.
1. I go up, Oskar will wait.
2. I go up tomorrow, Oskar will go down by himself this day.
3. We pack up and leave.
At that moment I knew number 1 and 2 was impossible, I just couldn't reload mentally. I still had a spark of willpower in my muscles but my mind was not there. I sobbed for a second or two to release the tension I was feeling.
- What the hell am i doing this for?
I'm not going to explain how we went down, I already bored you with the story going up. But what i can tell you is I found the answer of the question I asked myself that moment when I took the deciscion to throw in the towel.
- Because it's a hell of a vacation.;)
I like the views, it makes me feel so small when standing in front of a mountain. I like the complexity of a face, I can sit and watch it for hours...dreaming. There are hundreds of reason to love mountaineering. Amoeba isn't one of them. Luckily a Norwegian doctor had some antibiotics for us to chew on. We found more in Osh.
So now I'm back. I'm glad to report that today was the first day that my tummy felt normal again. It took 15 days and 7 kilos...
I nearly lost my Botebangwei but I think i still got it.
"See, you know how to take the Botebangwei, you just don't know how to *hold* the Botebangwei and that's really the most important part of the Botebangwei, the holding. Anybody can just take them."
- Jerry Seinfeld (Slightly modified quote)
PS. Many of you are waiting for e-mails. Haven't got around to sit down properly in front of the computern until now. Sorry about that. DS
Here, there and finally back again. Part 1
I'm writing from Stockholm, got back yesterday and it sure feels good to be back home!
After my session in Kashgar I left for Pik Lenin in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan. I managed to get hold of a 4x4 taking me to the border at Irkeshtam Pass. Now this border isn't just a virtual line separating to countries, it's also a 4km no-mans-land of a complete mess of trucks, cars and people. All getting stuck, being turned upside down and breaking apart. So in other words i had a bit of struggle reaching my pick-up at the Kyrgyz side in time. A truck loaded like a funnel standing straight up on the narrow end... if you follow, had tilted and had spread it goods alover the place so I had to carry my stuff a km or two. I was happy to get in the Lada Niva after some hours.
The driver was really funny. He had a strict opinion that Panasonic, of all brands, made the absolutely best cameras in the world. When I took out my compact Canon he literally spit on the inside on the windscreen and sweared, very broadly , in Russian over it like it was a black cat or something. Well I gave him some Chinese cigarettes that he really seemed to like and we swooshed through the flat lowlands over rough roads and with happy smiles.
The Lada Niva somewhere between Sary-Tash and Pik Lenin BC.
The trip ended in Achik-Tash. That is the name of Pik Lenin's BC. The BC is spread out on an area of around one square kilometre so it didn't had the same intimacy as Muztagh Ata BC. Camp 1 on PL is more like the latter. Achik-Tash is more like a landing spot that you want to leave as fast as possible.
The day after it was raining so I decided to stay in my tent. Oskar, my partner was up in C1. He had arrived 10 days before me to gain the acclimatisation I already had in me. I walked up the following morning with gear and food to last for a week and a half. The trek up to C1 is quite beautiful and very dramatic. Sometimes the terrain drops 50-60 meters on the side of the narrow path and a small mistake could easy send you tumbeling down to the glacier below. Not sure anyone would hear you scream from down there. It's amazing, the nomads are riding these trails on horse!
The view of the trail on the left leading up to C1.
I got to C1 after 5 hours. Oskar was there and he was happy to get some company. He had been alone with his anatomy book for some time now and was longing for some company. We had dinner in the mess tent of our arranging company and decided to head up the glacier the following day.
We got a really late start and we left camp a bit stressed by the fact that we had small chances to reach C2 by nightfall. The bags were heavy and the dome shape of the lower part of the wall made it terrible hot. It was fun though to cross the glacier were we jumped crevasses, some big and scary with unstable snowbridges leading across.
Roped in through the field of crevasses.
Just when we had moved our way up to the beginning of the traverse the light of day started to fade on us. I was feeling strong but Oskar was affected by the altitude and we decided to make camp and pitched the tent close to a area in danger of avalanches. We came to the conclusion that it was still safe since we had a couple of small hills that covered our back to the ice/snow wall. They would sure stop most of debris coming our way.
Icefall. The trail is visible in the upper-middloe part of the picture.
Next day we moved up to C2. On the way the snow began to fall. It fell and it fell, on and off for two days.
We layed in our tent melting snow and chatting about.
The time in C2 was a bit boring but still pleasant one until our stomachs started to produce bad gases. The problems grew worse and especially Oskar had some very explosive moments. He was running out in the middle of the night in panic.
Sorry for putting you through this but it explains a lot later on in the story. :)
Anyway, we layed mostly in cramps and ate Imodium and coal pills, just trying to stop things up. It isn't easy to get any nutrition down when you are feeling like this but we tried our best anyway with light food like noodlesoups and tea.
On the third day we moved up a load of food and gaz to C3 at 6100m, well at least we tried. Some unprovoked toilet stops on the way and we started to climb the last part and a steep and long section leading up to C3. In the middle of that part we put a stash, we just couldn't go any further in our condition with cramping stomachs. We put it just next to a marker flag and we put our ice axes in the snow around it so we could find it if snow was coming during the night.
And so we turned around and went down to our tent.
On our way up to C2.
More will come soon! Time for bed.
I'm blogging from Kashgar, back from Muztagh Ata and I will tell you the story of what has happened the last week.
My story starts here, in this town, where I had gone down to, to load my body with food and enough oxygen, to make a push to the summit. I spent a couple of really nice days with Janne, Jeff and Martin that had arrived some days earlier. There were also a Swedish group of 10 or so people that I had got to know on the mountain. They decided to abort their expedition due to a number of reasons. I got some good friends in this group.
Janne, Jeff, Martin and me rented a truck to get up to Subashi, a village on the side of the Karakorum Highway that stretches from Kashgar in the north to Islamabad in the south. The driver dropped us off there after some 4 hours of driving.
The other guys had their bikes with them so I paid a local to take me up to BC with his motorbike. (Yes, there is a dirtroad going up to BC.). Subashi is located at the foot of the mountain at approx. 3800m. BC is at 4400.
They morning after I packed my backpack with my tent, sleeping bag, some warm clothes, gaz and food.I then put on my big plastic boots to quickly climb up to C1 at 5400m. In the following afternoon I climbed through the icefall to C2 at 6200m,.
I realised that it had changed much since I first went through it 3 weeks earlier. It was more steep than before, it almost seemed like the whole thing had been pressed together with by two gigant hands and at the same time creating alot of new crevasses. The weather was OK, I enjoyed the climb up and I felt strong.
When I arrived C2 I was looking for a stash I had left with some polish friends. I couldn't find it and I was beginning to feel nervous. Was the same bloody thing, that ruined my last attempt on the mountain, about to happen again?
That time, in 2002, my food stash at 5800m was partly stolen, partly destroyed.
The night fell and so was the snow as I huddled in my small yellow to make some brews and melt snow for the climb up to C3 the following morning. I listened on my MP3 player, Paul Oakendfold, some nice beats by Carl Cox and abit Megadeth. I enjoyed few chapters in a book I got from a Swedish girl I met in Jannes dorm in Kashi. "Fast Cash", a thriller on the cocaine trafficing in Stockholm. So far away from home, but not wanting to get home.
Home - exterior
Home - Porch
Home - View from porch. Quiet hood.
I woke up pretty early, I'm a laaaate sleeper so 9 something is good to be me. A thick layer of snow was covering the tent and as I tiredly stuck my head out of the tent in the cold morning air I felt snowflakes hitting my face. I was still snowing alot and the visibility was poor. The Iranian team in C2 was waiting for a better opportunity to head up and so was I. The weather remained the same through out the day. I finished the book and was really lazy. I think I went out one or max two times!
I managed to find the stash buried in the snow where the Poles have had their tent. Three tubes of Chinese pringles, plenty of extra gaz and food made me happy.
Bit bored and sunburnt.
At 8 o'clock the following day the Iranian moved up. I packed up and was ready at 11. The wind was really biting this morning, the weather was clear and cold. As I looked up the first slope leading up I saw a band of people coming down. It turned out to be the iranians that decided to come down, why I didnt know but some of them was very upset and was shouting. The leader had ordered them down because of the wind. I agreed that it blowing pretty good but I didn't think it was that bad.
"One hour of rest", they said. "And then we go up again." I decided to wait for them.
When are we leaving?
I had been kicking around snow on the same spot for two hours. Even with my down parka I was freezing in the in the wind and I was getting tired of the waiting game. "Fuck this, I'm leaving"
The iranian leader ordered the group to get up and get going, like he could read my mind and so were we on our way. The route was going close a couple of big crevasses, I mean reeaally close. I made marks with the GPS every 50m or so, but the preciscion was soo bad (5-7m) that in case of bad weather I was sure to fall down in the abyss anyway. Four hours later we reached C3 at 6800m.
Two Iranian girls and one guy offered me to get into their tent and make some dinner. The wind was at this time not hard, it was fierce! Everybody ducked through the entrance as fast as possible. I felt really good, tired but no headache or sign of not being able to cope with the altitude. The rest was totally beat. I was worried about the preparations for the summit attack in the morning. We had to melt alot of snow for four people. I usually want at least 1.5 L for a 3 hour climb. That makes 6L of water for 4 persons plus water for dinner and breakfast. 10 liters means many hours of melting snow.
I dugged some snow from the vestibule of the tent that was poorly staked.
The outertent flapped furiously in the wind and between the inner and outer tent masses of snow had gathered. We managed somehow to fit all inside and the iranians threw themself exhausted on the floor, not minding taking off their snow covered boots and so risking to make the night wet and unbearable.
I took out my stove and began to boil water to make a noodle soup. Guess you learn which chinese noodles you can eat with some kind of pleasure and which ones that makes you feel sick. The iranians had some kind of chicken soup that they shared amongst each other. I popped one of the chips tubes open and shared it with the group. We ate under silence. During the meal I took the opportunity to melt snow in another pot, and we gathered closer towards the warmth of the stove. Don't really know what had been going on in the snow in the vestibule but it was all other than clean! I let it boil for an extra minute to be safe.
At last we had enough water for breakfast and for the following days climb and we could prepare for bed. I now felt tired as hell. On the left I had Ali, he had already decided not to try a push. On the right I had Sheima, she had buried herself in the sleeping bag with her down parka on still! The time was 2 am when we all laid still, listening to the roaring wind outside.
The night became a sleepless one. I was so tired but there were no chance I could sleep. There were always something that kept you awake. Someone turning, coughing, huffing or puffing...
There was a hundred different reasons not to be able to sleep that night. I guess I finally had one hour of sleep betweeen 6 and 7. 7 am the iranaian guide woke us up. I felt bad...really bad actually. Not only because lack of sleep but a headache because of dehydration and the high altitude. I had problems with my breathing during sleep (peridoic breathing) and sometimes I would wake up gasping for air. Still I couldn't keep my eyes open and I would fall asleep a couple of minutes and then wake up. This went on and on.
The girls prepared to go at 8 am but the guide wasn't to give his ok until 9:30. I promised to follow shortly when they crawled out in the bitter cold of the morning. I forced myself to start a brew and eaty some breakfast. "Just give me an hour or so and I will be good to go!" I slowly got my energy back and was feeling alot better.
The wind appeared to have calmed down when I woke up but now it had gained full force agained and had picked up even! I crawled out to check things out and to visit the "toilet". I took off my gloves for 1 or 2 minutes and after that exposure my hands was screaming with pain. I had to threw myself into the tent to warm my frozen fingers under rmy armpits.
I could go up, but what about coming down? The iranians would be far down on the mountain by the time I would reach the summit and nobody else was even thinking of going to the summit in the next day.
The deciscion at that time wasn't hard to make, I couldn't to it alone. To do it dould be irresponsible to all that stands me near. "No way, I'm heading down".
Me and Ali packed our bags and head down towards C2. The wind was so forceful it knocked me over a couple of times. Ali was feeling his fingers and toes getting cold and we hurried our steps as best as we could.
We soon reached C2 and Ali wanted to stay and sleep for two hours. I said good luck to him and packed my rucksack with the rest of my things from the camp. When I got to the upper slope of the icefall, a section that is steep I bagan to get worried. This part had been negotiable with snowshoes the earlier weeks but was now polished by the wind and had become very icy and hard. My crampons and axe I had left in BC, nobody used these tools in the deep snow of Muztagh Ata. Earlier there were no need for it. " Shit I wish that I would have brought it now!"
I tried to go down a bit but had to abort that idea. I took off my snowshoes and overboots and frontpointed my way down some meters. The heavy load in the bagpack didnt help beacause of the balance. I was drawn backwards of the weight. I had no choice but to throw down the backpack to the bottom of the 15m wall. And so I did. I saw it tumble down and finally rested further down
I then shortened my trekkingpoles so I could dig them in all the way to the handle in the snow and then kick in with my boots, one foot always higher than the other to gain balance. After some sweaty minutes I got to the bottom and collected the backpack.
On the top of the last slope before C1 I met Martin and Jeff with their bikes. The are planning to brake the world record in high altitude biking, a record that Martin had before. This is third (and last??) try on Muztagh Ata. I wish him success. They thought it was unfortunate that I didn't come to the summit and Martin loudly exclaimed. "Well I'm not going back to this fucking mountain again that's for sure!" on his broad danish accent. We laughed together and so I was off again.
In C1 I collected a stash of spare gaz, food and clothes. The ridge down to BC is 950 meters high and very long. I was always exposed to the furious wind. It seemed like it was aimed for me because it would always try to knock me over when I was going up from a tricky position with my heavy backpack after som rest. I would scream at the wind. "Leave me alone you bastard!" I guess the mountain showed me it's powers...
Down in BC I got the news that the group of eight iranians had reached the summit after 4 hours. The wind had been hard and people were very tired. Sheima had apparently problems with her toes.
Janne dropped by the tent after being up on a neighbouring ridge, he was acclamatizing in the area. We had some coffee and cashew nuts and raisins.
The day after was restday but my time on the mountain was over. I couldn't recharge mentally for another summit push. My mind was already on Pik Lenin. This is the game in the hills, sometimes it doesn't go as you'd like.
Every day is hard, and you will get nothing for free. I accept it and I'm not sorry that I didn't go to the summit. Life is long, the mountain will remain. There will always be time to come back if I would like to.
I went down to Kashgar with the Iranians and here I am now. On Friday I will leave for Pik Lenin. The mountain is 7134m. In BC I will meet Oskar, a medical student from Umea on the northeast coast of Sweden. I will be nice
to climb with a partner. I have not been alone on Muztagh Ata, there have been so many nice people to hang around with. But I have been climbing alone and when I think back on the "summit day" I would definately would have done it if I had a dedicated partner.
I can't wait to get up again.
More stories of Muztagh Ata will follow and pictures. Three people died on the mountain this year and I was involved in a rescue operation of two Korean climbers through the icefall. Thanks to Max , Anthony and two Tibetian guides these to men are alive today. One of their friends was not so lucky unfortunately. I'm glad I could help.
Courtesy of Max Bogatylev. (Stefan is on the right picture, with orange pants talking to a survived Korean climber.)
There is a problem on internet cafes here to upload pictures from my digital camera. No pictures in this moment
from the climb unfortunately.
My beard has grown long and my body is skinny. Please invite me to dinner when I get home. I'm size M!!!
Ok. Last but not least. Keep your Botebangwei ! ;)
Last night I arrived in Kashgar after a horrendous 18 hour journey on gravel roads from Osh in Kirgizstan over the mountains. Me and a Russian/American guy named Sergei shared the bus with 10 other Uzbek women. They loudly complained that we (me) stank and one in perticular were not late to show her feelings toward me by pulling her nose and make faces. Do I stink? Yes ,sometimes I do. But as I later found out, the bus have not been used for 6 months with unwashed bed sheets lying around so it wasn't (completely) my fault. Just blame it on the foreigners...
So what is happening now? Tomorrow at 10am Bejing time I will travel up the Karakorum Highway to a small village at the foot of the mountain called Subahi. From there it is about 3-4 hours by foot until I reach Base Camp. I'm doing some last minute shopping today and trying to treat my stomach that isn't very well. Surprise, surprise..
Then I have approximately 25 days on the mountain. I hope to get to the summit sooner because I don't have that extra kilos of fat on my body that it's good when climbing. I will surely look like a ghost when coming down.
I'll post a bunch of pictures of my joruney so far but you won't see any updates here until late July. Some of you will maybe get a text because mobile phones do work in BC!
Martin and Jeff are cycling through Tibet now and will show up in BC on the 26th, I will probably stick around and wait for them.
For you who that I have forgotten to inform about this trip can read more about the mountain here:
Have a great summer and see you all soon I hope!
Inte mycket att saga om resan fran Stockholm egentligen, bara ett konstaterande att bland det varsta jag vet
ar forberedelserna infor resor. Hur manga ganger per dag ska man behova kolla at passet fortfarande ligger pa sin plats vid vaskan eller fa allvarlig angest for att man tror sig har glomt en sked eller ett extra par kalsonger.
Nu ar jag ivarjefall pa plats i Kirgizstans huvudstad Bishkek som dingnar under varmeboljan. I natt nar jag landade klockan 04 var det behagliga 23 grader, dagstemeperaturen ar narmare 40. Pa fredag ska det tydligen bli 45!
Jag vet att jag alltid klagar pa varmen men man maste fa klaga pa nagonting.
Annars ar det bra, det ar inget paradis men ett mer eller mindre valordnad fd. sovjetstad. Inga fulla manniskor pa gatorna som i Ryssland sa det ar skont, flertalet har ar ju muslimer sa det har sin naturliga forklaring.
Har redan mott mycket trevliga manniskor pa vagen hit och har. Pa planet fran Stockholm/St. Petersburg satt jag bredvid tva japanskor. Tomomi och (Tsuko tror jag). Blev inbjuden till Los Angeles om jag har vagara forbi i framtiden. De hade spenderat midsommar i Stockholm och var mycket nojda. Sdan traffade jag en Kazakisk familj fran Stockholmsomradet pa semster och en Kirgiz/Tysk familj med kraftiga Baptistinfluensen. Mannen i familjen
stamde , pinsamt for min del, upp i gospel i check-in kon i St. Petersburg.
-He's got the whooole world in his haands!! You know, I can do it in German too.
- I bet you can..
- And in Russian...
- You don't really have to...
- I hope you have a bibel a home.
Sen gick resan bra. Satt bredvid tva fran frankrike i Tupolev-154:an till Bishkek och snackade ivag ju langre natten led. Tjejen i sallskapet misstankte starkt att flygvardinnorna shottade vodka mellan varven for de hade lite svarigheter att fokusera. Kandes tryggt! Naja, nog med stereotyper.
I overmorgon beger jag mig soderut till Osh for att korsa gransen till Kina via Irkestam Pass. Gransen ar stangd over helgen sa jag kommer forst fram pa mandag i Kashgar, en 18 timmars djavulsresa formodar jag. Till Osh ar det 5.
Uppdaterar med lite bilder innan jag far.