Hi Guys,

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,.

C1,5 Posing

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 tired and sunburnt
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.

C2 Posing
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.

Gamblers loose in the long run... Exhausted through the icefall

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 ! ;)