Muztagh Ata

Muztagh Ata © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA, Tiles: Mapbox
Father of the Ice Mountains
  • The ideal beginner’s expedition with an average slope angle of 25 degrees – a fantastic mountain for skiing and snowshoeing.
  • Kobler & Partner are pioneers in offering guided ascents to this mountain and can rely on long years of experience.
  • The journey via Kyrgyzstan, also called "Switzerland of Central Asia", is the most direct way to Muztagh Ata.
  • An expedition, where not only the mountain itself, but also the cultural and scenic attractions are important to us.
  • You will be accompanied by high porters at Muztagh Ata.

"Father of the Ice Mountains" is what the Muztagh Ata is called by the locals. It is situated on Chinese ground, close to the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, and on the former Silk Route. In this unique landscape, the Muztagh Ata strongly attracts (ski-)mountaineers: It towers like a giant over the barren, almost desert-like landscape with huge sand dunes. The shepherds who inhabit this area are often nomads, who live in the typical Mongolian yurts (tents). In places like Kashgar the people crowd the colourful Sunday market with thousands of donkey carts.
The mountain, with its 7,546 m, should not be underestimated, but due to the short journey, the ascent is possible in about four weeks. Besides the base camp, we will establish three high camps in order to reach the summit on foot or on skis. The ascent is technically easy but special attention has to be paid to orientation, because of the mountain’s vastness. For this reason, we will mark our route with flags.
This mountain shows the unlikely change which mountaineering has undergone in China, mainly since the Olympics in 2008. When Kari was at Muztagh Ata in 2007, 15 Chinese mountaineers wanted to climb Muztagh Ata, which back then was quite a considerable number. Among them was Mister Huang the owner of Muztagh Ata, who by then had climbed Mount Everest twice. In the meantime, the situation has changed a lot: Nowadays, hundreds of Chinese mountaineers besiege the mountain every year in July. This change is probably going to become even more apparent in the coming years. That's why, we from Kobler & Partner take action and only offer the Muztagh Ata expedition in June - which is the better time for skiing anyway.

Travel Programme

Day 1: Europe–Bishkek
Flight from Europe to Bishkek.

Day 2: Arrival in Bishkek–Yurt at Torugat Pass
Arrival in Bishkek in the morning. To get to the Torugat Pass, the border between Kyrgyzstan and China, we have to cross the country from north to south. The beautiful yurt camp at the foot of the pass will be our first stop. Near the camp is a small fort, which provided shelter for travelers heading to the Tien Shan Mountains using the Silk Route.
Driving time: 9 hrs.

Day 3: Yurt Camp–Torugart Pass–Kashgar
Today we travel through wide valleys, the Tien Shan Mountains in the background, before we finally get to the Torugart Pass. On our way, we cross the northern Silk Route, which today is only used by smugglers. On the other side of the pass, we can feel the influence of the Taklamakan Desert: the air is very dry and the landscape barren. Bus drive (200km) to Kashgar, an oasis city located at the border of the desert. Hotel accommodation. Driving time: 9 hrs.

Day 4: Rest day in Kashgar
Rest day and sightseeing in Kashgar, a true melting pot. Visiting the city centre is a must-do and there are many new impressions to get used to.

Day 5: Kashgar–Subash
Today we leave for Subash, located on the Kyrgyz high plateau (steppe). This is the last village that can be reached by car. Overnight stay in yurts. Driving time: 4 hrs.

Day 6: Rest day in the Subash area
We need time to acclimatise. A trip with camels to the surrounding villages offers interesting insights into some aspects of the Kyrgyz culture.

Day 7: Subash–Base camp
Ascent to Muztagh Ata base camp (4500m). Camels carry our equipment.

Day 8–25: Ascent of Muztagh Ata
Three high camps have to be established with the help of our high porters. Camp I will be established at about 5,500 m, camp II at about 6,200 m and camp III at about 6,900 m.

The ascending route:
Base camp (4,500 m)–Camp I (5,500 m)
Up to an altitude of about 4,900 m, we will mainly ascend on foot, depending on snow-conditions. The big rest of the route provides an ideal skiing area. From the base camp at 4,500 m, we will follow an only faintly marked ridge that ends at about 5,200 m on the huge slope of the Muztagh Ata. The rest of the way to camp I will lead across this about 20-degree steep slope.

Camp I (5,500 m)–Camp II (6,200 m)
The area between Camp I and II is, from a technical standpoint, the most difficult part of the whole route. At the beginning we cross a 25-degree slope. Afterwards, the route leads across a relatively harmless crevassed area (depending on conditions) under a big Serac, which is the only avalanche-prone zone of this ascent. We cross this and pass on to a wide hollow to camp II.

Camp II (6,200 m)–Camp III (6,900 m)
The route to camp III and further on to the summit will lead over wide, for the descent (by skis) ideally inclined slopes.

Camp III (6,900 m)–Summit
A long ascent over a 20-degree slope takes us to the top. Skiing should be possible almost to the base camp, depending on snow conditions.

Day 26: Base camp–Subash–Kashgar market
In the morning, our luggage will be reloaded onto camels and we will descend to Subash. From there, we will travel by bus to the oasis town Kashgar on the border of the Taklamakan Desert. Hotel accommodation.

Day 27: Ride from Kashgar–Yurt camp at Torugat Pass
We leave Kashgar and pass through Chinese border control. We are picked up by our local agency and travel to the yurt camp. Driving time: 2-3 hrs.

Day 28: Yurt camp–Bishkek
Over hill and dale we drive to Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. At first, the landscape is barren, then it gets continuously greener.

Day 29: Flight Bishkek–Europe
Night flight from Bishkek to Europe.

Included services
  • International flights, incl. airport taxes
  • Luggage (for allowance see K&P handbook)
  • All transfers, trips by bus and jeep
  • Organisation of the entire expedition
  • Information meeting in Bern at Bächli Bergsport
  • Tips from Kobler & Partner (for individual tips see special leaflet)
  • Summit fees
  • Full-board during entire expedition (for individual snacks see K&P handbook)
  • All beverages during shared meals
  • Hotel accommodation in double rooms, 4 nights in yurts (see travel programme)
  • Good group tent from K&P, toilet tent, shower tent
  • 1 tent per participant at base camp
  • 1 tent per 2 participants in the high camps
  • Light mats for the high camps
  • Fixed ropes, mountain ropes, ice screws, etc.
  • High mountain stoves (gas) and cutlery
  • Satellite phone, tax excluded
  • Weather forecast from Meteotest Bern during the entire expedition
  • Solar equipment with light in the group tent
  • Electricity in base camp for loading electronic gadgets (limited use)
  • Expedition doctor, if possible
  • Pack animals (camels) to base camp and back
  • Oxygen for emergencies
  • Extensive pharmacy with a pulse oximeter at BC
  • Pharmacies in the high camps
  • 1 rescue sled
  • Postcards
  • Kitchen: cook and kitchen assistants
  • Transport of high camp equipment on donkey-back to camp I
  • 2 local high porters
  • Accompanying officer
  • Local translator
  • Certified mountain guide
  • Communication: the base camp and the high camp are connected to the GSM phone network
Excluded services
  • Insurance (see additional information "insurance")
  • Personal porter for the high camps (reservation recommended)
  • Individual beverages
  • Visa for China (see additional information "travel documents")
  • Personal medication (see K&P handbook)
  • Extra costs arising due to changes in the programme
Support

Since 2012, Kobler & Partner recruit high porters from Kyrgyztan, which proved to be very helpful. General material such as tents, cooker, gas, mats and food for the high camps will be brought to camp I on donkey-back.

Good to know: It is possible to get a phone signal at base camp and at certain high camps. In order to be able to use your phone without trouble, you will have to have a mobile phone provider who has a roaming contract with China Mobile.

Equipment & Checklist
See complete equipment & checklist for this travel

For this travel, you will need the following equipment:

Altitude

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7 546m.

Required Experience Level

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Required experience according to K&P.

Seriousness

On the Kobler scale, the seriousness of a travel can reach from A (high) to D (low).

B