ALPEX High Alpine Expeditions – Ulugh Muztagh 2001

ALPEX High Alpine Expeditions – Ulugh Muztagh 2001 Press release nr 2 September 9, 18.30 Late in the evening of September 7 the majority of the team has arrived in the isolated oasis city of Qiemo in the Southern reaches of the Taklamakan desert. On the moment the team is waiting the arrival of the last member, the Chinese personnel and he special vehicles which have to take us over the Kunlun main chain and then deep into the Northern Tibetan Plateau to our base camp. The two day trip from Kashgar to Qiemo, via Hotan, went as we had planned it. First day we made a total of 680 km, partly through desert terrain, partly through oasis, which are frequent and huge in this part of the desert due to melt water runoff from the Kunlun Mountains. The roads were still reasonable and the driver a pro in this area, this assured that we arrived early in the evening at our intended stay over in Hotan, a large oasis town. Team members were surprised that they found a pretty modern world with good infrastructure and logistics on their way: The larger oasis towns even proved to have mobile phone network! As expected was the second lap of 750 km to Qiemo a lot tougher, because of the bad condition of the roads in this area. Up to Minfeng the going was still reasonable and our progress acceptable. Beyond this settlement however there are no paved roads any more, but a bumpy gravel track leading deep into the Taklamakan, where there is no oasis any more. Instead of being a dead monotonous thing the desert proved to show many faces: several large parts are larded with shrubs and hardy grasses and everywhere where there is only a little water it takes a savanna-like character. However the team was quite happy that after a 13 hour rough drive they arrived at 2300 hours at their hotel in Qiemo, a small but modern city, tucked deep in the desert. Besides relaxing a little, here the fresh food staples were bought, and the last adjustments made to the plans for the drive in into the Central Kunlun. As one member had delay coming in due to trouble with the flights to Urumqi, we had our personnel waiting for him in Urumqi. We expect them any moment now. And tomorrow morning we will be on the way for another lap of 530 hard km, to our first camp spot 5000 meter high in the Altun Shan. Our goal here is the first ascent of a 6050 meter, unnamed peak, for the sake of a thorough pre-acclimatisation. Further releases about progress will follow soon! ****ALPEX High Alpine Expeditions****Background: After several years of preparation, from 4 September to 18 October 2001 ALPEX High Alpine Expeditions organizes a mountaineering expedition to Ulugh Muztagh, probably remotest of high peaks. Situated at 87°26´ East and 36°25´ North on the Northern Tibetan plateau, exactly on the border between Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions of China, it is some hundred kilometers distant from the main Kunlun chain and difficult to reach.The high plateau reaches its greatest elevation here at an average of 5100 meter, and it would cost several days to retreat well below 5000 meter level, consequently there is no permanent human habitation in the wide distance of the isolated mountain massif. As the area is dominated by a 1600 square kilometer glacier shield, which melt of gives live to the high plains around it, wildlife abundance is almost incredible and to the East of the range there is one of China´s most protected nature reserves. ALPEX High Alpine Expeditions is a small Dutch company specialized in organizing mountaineering expeditions to remote peaks. For more information see http:/www.highalpex.com