Khan Tengri Expedition 2003
Off to climb Khan Tengri in southern Kazakhstan this July. Check back here for Live reports and video live from the mountain! Khan Tengri is on the border with Northern China and is within the Tien Shan Mountains (Heavenly Mountains!). Khan Tengri translates as Ruler or Ruler of the Skies. Its a 7000 meter technical climb and will really be a lot of fun! Stay tuned here as we leave for this expedition!
Khan Tengri Live Reports
Reports Start with most Recent!
Just Back to Base Camp after our Summit Attempt!- July 22nd
Its been awhile since we've sent in a report, but we have been busy! Since our last report we have been up through all the camps, in very tough conditions. Yesterday we had a go at the summit but extreme high winds kept the summit away from us. We started from Camp 3 on July 21st at 5am in clear blue skies and light winds. Everything was looking perfect. We were the first team on the Upper West Ridge this year so we had to dig out ropes and break trail the entire way. Fairly difficult slow going at over 20,000 ft.. We were moving well but soon after 9am the classic Tien Shan weather made its appearance. First thin lenticular clouds started forming above Pobeda, then above us on Khan Tengri. These indicate very serious high winds. We continued for awhile until it was very clear it was time to get outta there! We had reached 21,000 ft. very near the the bottom of the summit couilor, but by then the sky had gone grey and the surrounding peaks had disappeared and 30 to 40 mph gust were hitting us with a lot of spindrift. This had all happened in just over an hour!
On a bad Sat Phone line, Scott reports that bad weather forced him and Lawrence to shelter in a snow cave at 20,000 feet. Yesterday they where approaching Camp 3, and are hoping to do a summit-push today. As of yesterday no one had yet reached the summit of Khan Tengri.
Update from Scott: Calling from inside our snow cave up here at about 20,000 ft. Total blizzard out there. Waiting and hoping for better weather tomorrow!
Perfect Weather Finally!- July 15th
A cold clear night last night and perfect blue skies this morning! What a day. Everyone is letting the mountain stabilize today then most groups will be heading up tomorrow. That's our plans to go up to Camp 1 tomorrow morning early, then the next day to Camp 2 for 3 nights. Hopefully with help from the Dutch, Spanish, Russian, Korean and Kazak teams we can get a route established up to the summit. We are looking at July 21st at the earliest for our first summit attempt, which is very tight with our schedule. It gives us maybe two extra days to wait and summit from Camp 3 and still make our flights.
Back from Camp 2! - July 14th
Back in base camp now after 2 nights at 15,000 ft. and higher. A tough day yesterday carrying a load of food and equipment up to Camp 2 at 18,000 ft.. Extremely difficult conditions. Over 3 feet of snow in places. We broke trail all the way between Camps 1 and 2 in poor weather. Nine and a half hours up and down! We had planned to go back up to Camp 2 again today to sleep, but in the very poor snow conditions and bad weather we decided to take a rest at Base Camp and go back up in a couple days. Very high avalanche danger as evident yesterday in a huge slide that came down and took out most of the route from the glacier to Camp 1! A late afternoon sun triggered event. Its very scary as most climbers here prefer to climb during that time. Two Koreans just about got caught in the slide. Less than 50 ft. away!
Camp 1- July 12th
A beautiful morning today. Left base camp around 5.30am and again climbed to camp 1 with a perfect sunrise lighting up the summit of Khan Tengri. The clearest day so far! Another 6 inches of fresh snow last night so some more trail breaking today. Camp 1 is perched on a narrow ridge with a spectacular view over the North Engilchek Glacier. Still no progress much beyond C2 with the route. Photo of Lawrence climbing with Khan Tengri in back. Scott Woolums Reporting.
Up to Camp 1 Today! July 11th
Up early today, then up and back to camp 1. Difficult conditions with over 6 inches of fresh snow, all tracks covered from yesterday, and snowing most of the morning. Both Lawrence and I felt great even with the hard trail breaking. It just felt good moving up the mountain finally after days of travel and acclimatizing! We plan to move to camp 1 tomorrow, then the next day carry a load to camp 2. Some bad weather up higher today, at least one team moved to camp 2 and 3 guides were fixing ropes a little ways above camp 2. A large fresh snow avalanche came down close to the route today as soon as the sun hot the slope. We plan to move early for just that reason. Tomorrow camp 1. Scott Woolums Reporting.
Looking down on the glacier
Khan Tengri Base Camp- July 10th
Hello from Base Camp! Thanks for following our Khan Tengri expedition. Its really going well so far, were here, conditions look ok, were both feeling well and getting excited to go up tomorrow. We plan to carry a load up to Camp 1 tomorrow, to check conditions on the route and acclimatize a bit more before going up to sleep higher. Quite a few people from all over here in base camp. Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Hungarian, Dutch and Russian climbers. Today we are going for a short walk up the glacier, packing loads for tomorrow and learning a bit of Russia from the locals. Its been fun but now the works going to begin.
Short Video from helicopter ride to Base Camp, Click Here!
Were at Khan Tengri Base Camp!
This photo is from the south side of Khan Tengri (we landed there this morning to drop off some supplies before continuing to the North Engylcheck Glacier). What an amazing helicopter flight into base camp here! Flying along the edge of the Tien Shan Mountains into the North Engylcheck Glacier at the foot of the North Face of Khan Tengri. A very nice base camp here with showers, cooks and climbing teams from all over. Several groups are up at Camp 1 and Camp 2 today. So far the route has not been established above camp 2 this season. Fairly deep snow has gotten everyone off to a bit of a late start. We are planning at least a couple days to acclimatize here before going high. Jumping from 7600 ft. to 13, 300 ft. in one helicopter ride takes awhile to readjust! Both Lawrence and I feel super though. Just settling into camp here, getting some reports ready to send and mostly relaxing today. What beautiful place, one of Earths most remote and spectacular mountain ranges and after flying almost around the world, we are here in the middle of it all. Perfect weather today hot and sunny with just a light cool wind. More reports every day so check back! Scott Woolums Reporting.
Loading up the helicopter at Karakara Base Camp for the flight!
Kara Kara Base Camp- Tien Shan Mountains
Hello! Just back from another great hike today. traveled 5.5 hours up along the river near camp here! A good bit of acclimatization. Feeling ready now to fly into Khan Tengri Base Camp tomorrow at over 13,000 ft.! Camp here is around 7500 ft. so its a huge jump to altitude. There is another Dutch group going into base camp with us. Sounds like there is a Japanese group and 2 others in at camp already. Super windy this morning, blowing over 60 mph up higher. Quite large thunderstorm buildups today on our hike. some thunder and rain. Still this place is beautiful. Very very green. Still suffering from serious jet lag with a 12 to 14 hour difference for us. Camp here is quite nice with separate yurts for all, horses and Mt. Bikes available to rent along with a nice restaurant and sauna. Fairly nice for a camp in the middle of the Tien Shan mountains! Look for photos from Base Camp tomorrow of Khan Tengri up close! Scott Woolums reporting.
Were here in the Tien Shan Mountains
After a long hard flight from the USA were finally here. A remarkable country. So green along the steppes on the drive out to the Kara Kara Valley. Were staying right now at the Kara Kara BC which is from where the helicopter will give us a ride into the North Inylchek glacier BC at the base of Khan Tengri. Very beautiful country. Lots of smaller trekking peaks and Mt. Biking around BC here. The entire hillsides are covered in lush green and alpine flowers. Very few people a virtually nothing between here and Almaty. We arrived in Almaty at 2 in the morning after almost 30 hours of travel! Super tired so we slept very well last night! We have today here to acclimatize before flying in tomorrow morning. Planning a hike up to 12,000 ft. to a local mountain just above camp. Yesterday we climbed to 9500 ft. and a really nice summit near camp. A fascinating country full of Yurts and small horses! A very safe country far removed from all the troubles in the world. Right in the heart of Central Asia. Very excited to get into base camp and have a go at Khan Tengri. A huge mystic surrounds this mountain, the highest in Kazakhstan. Its name as translated means ruler of the skies! Soon as we get to base camp we'll send out photos! It is know as one of the outstandingly perfect pyramidal mountains in the world. A challenge by any side, we plan to do the northern route to the west ridge. More soon!
Lawrence Rides a small cart to the start of out trek today! Click for Photo