Summit Success on the Muztagh Ata

30 Jun 2017
Gipfel erreicht!
by Andreas, André and the Muztagh Ata Team

Short message from the mountain guide Konrad Rösti on the satellite phone:
5 participants have have reached the summit of he Muztagh Ata today (30.06.2017).
Another 3 participants reached up to 80 metres below the summit, because they had to turn around due to an approaching thunderstorm.

Here the more detailed report from the base camp:

Summit reached!!

After the acclimatization and two resting days, Tuesday 27.06.2017 finally was the day for tackling the summit and we start the ascent. The weather conditions, which usually are the most precarious circumstances on the ascent of such a mountain, seemed very favourable to us. After a strengthening meal we then start our ascent to camp 1 late in the morning. We arrive without having had any problems at camp 1 late in the evening. The next morning we are greeted by a flurry of snow, this is not surprising and it does not at all lower our motivation. Because of the fresh snow during the night two participants decide to descend again with the use of snow shoes. The rest of the day continues without further surprises and during the afternoon, and with now great weather, we reach the second high camp. The night progresses without any problems, apart from a few participants that complain about sleep deprivation and some bowel problems, which are things that are very normal when one travels at such heights. On Thursday, two participants decide to turn around. As the day progresses we realise just how ambitious our goal of the day is. We wanted to establish the third camp above 6,900 metres, in order to save some height metres between us and the summit. The performance of our Russian carriers is unimaginable. They carry the heaviest backpacks in these heights and their efforts are what makes expeditions like these possible. They deserve much thanks and a lot of admiration for their efforts. After a restless night, be it because bowel problems that make you want to vomit, headaches or problems with passing water, we are greeted with the actual summit day. It is Friday 30.06.2017 the sky is deep blue and free of clouds, the temperatures are tolerable, minus 20°C. Despite little room, three people who spent the night in a double tent managed to put on clothes and prepare breakfast. Around 07:00 o'clock we leave the camp in the direction of the summit. The ascent takes us over gentle snowy slopes. We quickly realise, that it is really exhausting to ascend in these heights and our ascent progresses only very slowly. The turnaround time was set at 15:00 o'clock and we had the impression that we will manage to reach our goal. Shortly after noon clouds start to show up in the summit region and they were quickly growing. A first group of five participants (André, Christian, Joakim and Andreas) and three Kirghiz (Maxim, Jon and Andrew) already reached the summit region and the highest point of the mountain (7,546 m) within thick fog and a scurry of snow. Another participant falls asleep over and over again due to exhaustion and she had to be supported and brought back by a local guide. For all the people located at the summit region intense electrical discharges, that are sometimes accompanied by slight murmurs and sometimes accompanied by intense thunder, are a very very distressing experience. Shortly below the summit, the descending people encounter two more participants and the mountain guide. It is hard for them to accept defeat, but confronting the thunderstorm it is inevitable and they start their descent. Apart from a faulty ski binding, the downhill run to camp 3, where the weather is nice again, takes place without any problems. The biggest part of the group then descends back down to the base camp at 4,500 metres, where they arrive exhausted, happy and satisfied at around 21:00. The ascent of a 7,000er, an experience that brings a person to the limits of their physical and psychological capabilities, that are completely outside the normal human experience, it is truly a monolithic experience, it's a treasured memory.

Andreas, André and the Muztagh Ata Team.

Wholehearted congratulations to the whole team for their excellent personal performance.
In the end it does not matter if the summit was reached or not, the thing that really counts and what constitutes a successful expedition for me, is when all participants are coming out of it safe and sound. A bit of luck is also part of it, a thunderstorm at such an open summit could have had gone much much worse. In my opinion we were especially successful as a team. Beginning with the cooperation of the Kirghiz/Russian mountain guides and carriers, who analysed the incoming weather reports together and decided for the best summit day. Four days ahead of the summit day we had to gauge wind conditions, weather conditions and the snow conditions. Then we worked wonderfully together to make traces in the fresh snow, to establish a new camp, the "pepping up" of exhausted mountain guides and etc. In the end, everything went pretty much perfectly and we were the first to reach the summit this season.
A heartfelt thanks to the whole team.

Your mountain guide Konrad Rösti.