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[TR] Violence, Alcohol and Shenanigans in NW China - Kingata Shan 6/24/2005

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Trip: Violence, Alcohol and Shenanigans in NW China - Kingata Shan


Date: 6/24/2005


Trip Report:

This is the story of a trip I took with my friend TJ in 2005. At the last minute, we jumped on an expedition going to Northwest China after I received an "spammish" email from a man named Yoehan who was located somewhere in Central Asia.


Most people would just click "Delete" and forget about this suspicious email. But not me. Having a habit of getting myself into a bit of trouble at times, all in the interest of extracting a good story...I threw caution to the wind, wired some money to some bank in China and started packing. After all, the price was right, I was unemployed with some spare cash. And, I had a cool partner, TJ.


For me, I have noticed that as the years pass, the reality of an experience (what really happened) can sometimes morph into something else...memories of events that happened 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago become plastic and evolve into something else...they slowly emerge as similar events with small, convenient adaptations...adaptations that tend to paint ones-self in a better light, or adaptations filled with hyperbole to make for better story telling. Over time, these people and places and events become mythical in your mind...and only a quick reference to a journal entry (if one exists) bring you back to what really happened.


This is the story of our trip to China. I cannot attest to its truth or accuracy, although it travels along the general path of truth, often times these stories start drifting towards the gutter...


Sometime around Memorial Day in 2005, I hopped on a flight to Beijing. The plan was for me to travel the "Silk Road" to Urumqui in the Xinjiang Province of China, and meet TJ there about a month later. From there we would travel to Kashgar to meet our "Permit Procurement Officer", later to be known as our "Provision Procurement Douchebag", Yoehan , who was based in Urumqui. We would then join some Slovenians for an expedition to climb some "unclimed" peaks. The price was low, and we had moderate expectations.


So, for several weeks I made my way up the Silk Road with a tiny backpack, while TJ got to schlepp my climbing gear halfway across the world. I got the better half of the deal for sure. At least I think that is what happened...


A few shots of my journey up the silky road...


These guys were pretty stoked to see a white guy...this was in a small village up in the hills...the guy on the motorcycle was the local Karaoke champion. At least I think thats what they told me...



Normal sights along the road which parallels the old Great Wall...



Meat soon to be festering in 120+ degree afternoon heat...too hot for even the flies.




I finally arrived in Urumqi after a very hot 3-week tour up the Silk Road by bus. Midday temps were over 120 degrees. Luckily there were swimming pools all over the place, and I made a habit of going swimming to cool off. The only problem was that the Chinese, who are suppoedly obsessed with the size of the white-man-unit, would continually stare at my junk in the shower room. Kinda creepy. Kinda confidence-inspiring.


I finally met TJ in Urumqi for our flight to Kashgar. It was great to see a familiar face. Traveling on my own was fun, and the Chinese are very friendly people, but it was great to be with someone who wasn't staring at my junk all the time.


Hey Buddy!



The overweight charges in China are completely ridiculous, $100 per extra kilo. Now, I am NOT saying that Chinese people are stupid, but this is the first time of many over the next several weeks where we found ourselves muttering "Stupid Chinese..." So, with ice screws and all the climbing gear we we about $4000 overweight. We wore our entire climbing kit on the plane!


Arriving in Kashgar by plane, we gathered our bags and headed out into the reception area, looking for our man, Yoehan. Well, we found him! Dressed in tight black Beavis-like shorts and a black shirt with a Commie hammer and sickle...bursting belly peeking out underneath, he was a behemoth of a man. He welcomed us to Kashgar in a deep Northern European accent, and pointed us in the direction of our taxi. He seemed OK. Just OK, and from there it just went downhill...


Yoehan, en route to Base Camp...



Our first order of business the next day was to buy food and get our gear ready so we could leave Kashgar the next morning, bright and early. Yoehan had agreed to provide a most of the camping gear...base camp tents, cooking gear, "schlingies", etc. Since he told us that he had all that stuff ready to go(he WAS our Provision Procurement Douchebag(PPD) after all), we ended up drinking instead. Buying vegetables could wait.


We awoke the next day a bit hung over, but psyched to get on the road westward towards the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-China border, where Johan told us we would hire some camels to take us to our base camp. From base camp, we would spend a month or so bagging "unclimbed" peaks in the Kingata Shan(Range).


But, yet another caveat. Yoehan informed us in the morning, in his confirmed dutch-accented voice that the team of Slovenians that would be joining us were arriving in Kashgar a day or two late. We would have to wait in Kashgar at least another night. Ugh! I guess we would just have to get drunk again. At least that would give us some more time to get to know Yoehan.


Finally, buying vegetable in the Kashgar market...



At some point, the Slovenian team of three arrived over the Kunjerab Pass from Pakistan, and we were ready to roll. These Slovenians were cool guys, despite having weird names, and one of them was going to make of film of the expedition! Sweet! We would be on camera! You can see the film here: Kingata Film by Anze Cokl


The plan was to hire a bus to take us to a small village, then take camels to base camp. At least that was the trip Yoehan sold us...


Somewhere around this time, he told us that he "doesn't do rescues". Cool.


I think it was about this time he told us how he was recently beaten to a pulp for impregnating a local Uighur girl. But, that part is foggy...


Yoehan, dispatching disparaging remarks to our cook, Jaink, who didn't really understand what he was saying anyways...



The idea of camels taking us to base camp sounded exotic to me. I have to say that the camels were about 50% of the reason for me going on this trip. In the end, it turned out that we didn't need any camels after all...all we needed was a bloody truck! So, without even ONE CAMEL, we ended up DRIVING right to our base camp.


Yoehan and Jaink negotiate with the local Kyrgyz for passage...



Well, we got to base camp after after negotiating passage with the local Kyrgyz herders, and getting the bus stuck several times.


By this time, we had been around Yoehan for about 3-4 days, and he was drunk pretty much the whole time. Not only that, but he wore the same clothes every day...could he possibly continue like this for a whole month in the mountains...drinking incessantly and wearing the same clothes? What we discovered was truly horrifying.


At any rate, we had arrived at Base Camp. It was super easy to get there, and it was beautiful!




Locals "helping" us unload the truck





Mustagh Ata in the distance:



At this point, if you're still reading...you're probably wondering if we are going to do any climbing on this trip...and that what we were starting to wonder, too...


But, now that we were finally at Base Camp, all we had to do was eat, try our best to deal with Johans considerable alcoholism and perceived impending violence(he started saying angry things about this point), eat, and climb. Oh, yeah, we had to keep an eye on the local Kyrgyz...who looked innocent enough, but were milling about our camp constantly...obsessed with our high-tech trinkets like swiss-army knives, condoms, and sunglasses. Dont ask about the condoms, please.


Local Kyrgyz: Innocent looking, but deadly! How can you ever trust a moslem with an "I heart Jesus" hat??



Don't forget the condoms! Kidding.



IT WAS TIME TO DO SOME CLIMBING! We were hoping to climb Kingata Tagh, 6760 meters. But first we settled on a little acclimitization climb of a non-technical peak nearby, Karajira IV. None of these peaks seem to have official names, but Yoehan assured us that Karajira IV is both unclimed, and also actually named Karajira IV. We spent two full days bagging Karajira IV...really just a long slog up yak-slopes, then steep rotten snow...



TJ heading up Yak-slopes, with Kingata Tagh in the distance. She would be our nemesis, that dirty girl!







The descent path of one of the Slovenians...he had AMS pretty bad...note how un-straight is boot path is!!



Summit of Karjira IV:



We bagged Karajira IV just minutes after the Slovenians did. Of course, they claimed the first ascent for their country, and we shamefully walked the 8 hours back to Base Camp with our tails between our legs...


We then spent a few days in Base Camp recouperating. We passed the time by playing frisbee with the locals and shooting the yaks with a slingshot!





Yak Abuse!



Treasures abound around Base Camp!



By this time, Yoehan was starting to become quite the shit-show. He doesnt use sunscreen, so he had returned from two days on the glacier with his skin red, blistering, and peeling. At the Base Camp dinner table he would pick his scabs, then dip his scab-moistened hands into the sugar jar to sweeten his tea. Absolutely disgusting.


He was starting to run out of alcohol, and began getting very grumpy. He had not yet bathed, and was still wearing the Beavis shorts and the hammer-sickle t-shirt.


Also, he got diarrhea ("tin shits" as he called it) up on the mountain somewhere, and instead of going outside the tent to shit in the middle of the night, he thought it better to squirt his diaroeah (how many ways can you spell diorreah, anyways?) in our ONLY cooking pot small enough to take up high on summit day. He shit in our cooking pot. WTF?!!? He claimed that since he boiled water in it afterwards, that it was OK. "Don't worry about it", he said.


Mommy, where do "Tin Shits" come from??



Disgusted by Yoehan, we were amped to get up-valley and give a shot at Kingata Tagh...


The valley where our upper base camp was located:






Kingata Tagh from advanced Base Camp...





Long story short, we spent about 10 days high on the mountain trying to climb Kingata Tagh. The weather was crap. Every morning we would wake to blue bird skies, and every day around 11am the storm clouds would come in to deposit about 3 inches of graupel.


Despite the crap weather, we finally made a dash for the summit as our last days of our trip were approaching. After putting in a high camp around 6100 meters, we ended up getting turned back by steep ice climbing that we were not prepared for...neither of us felt healthy.


At high camp:



High on the mountain on our summit push...Pakistan and a bunch of other "Stans" lurk on the horizon...



Four weeks of of living on crappy Chinese food had taken their toll. The last days we were subsiding on Chinese "Powerbars" that weighed as much as a dime.


The night we ate the mystery meat was a momentous one!



Disappointed, and completely exhausted and hungry, we packed up our high camp, then our ABC and headed back down to Base Camp where we could spend one last day with Yoehan before heading back to Kashgar. Seems as if Yoehan had run out of alcohol while we were up on the mountain...and he had gotten very ornery. Very ornery. Honey badger-type ornery.


Yoehan was getting angry. He started talking about how much he hated Americans. And about how noble Stalin was for doing "what he believed", etc. I could tell that something bad was going to happen.


But, we got packed up the next day and left Base Camp without incident...


Yoehan sits while others do the work:



Departing the enchanted land of the Kyrgyz:



Finally arriving back in Kashgar, we decided it was time for a little celebration. The celebration would include myself, TJ, the three Slovenians and, unfortunately, Yoehan.


The night started off normal enough. But, eventually, we found ourselves sitting at an outdoor table at a main junction in Kashgar...drinking fairly heavily. Yoehan, excited to have unlimited amounts of alcohol at hand (and access to Uighur prostitutes), began to get drunk...and belligerant.


He started yelling to everyone withing earshot that I was a CIA spy. Then, moments later, pushed his chair back, pulled out a leather man...and moved to stab me. TJ, hating Yoehan like no other, stands up, rears, and hauls off a punch across the table into Yoehans jaw, sending him flying backwards in his chair. It was awesome. I think that was the only time TJ ever punched anyone in his life. Turned out the Yoehan had actually pulled out the corkscrew part of the leatherman, not the knife...but, that is besides the point.


Moments before the "Leatherman Incident"



Well, our party quickly dissipated after the melee, and we all said our good-byes and headed to bed.


But not Yoehan. He kept drinking. And drinking.


One of the Slovenians was sharing a room with Yoehan for the night. When he awoke at 5 am, this is what he saw.




The next day, TJ headed home, I headed to Kyrgyzstan, and Yoehan probably got drunk and bought a few whores. Classy guy.


At least I THINK all this stuff happened. Things are starting to get foggy...I think I will burn my journals and continue to let reality morph into myth.


BTW: You can see a more detailed trip report here:


Gear Notes:

Bring your own cooking pot.


Approach Notes:

Go halfway around the world, then turn right.

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Thanks guys, glad you liked it.


About that last photo...I showed it to some people back in Urumqi, at a bar/club called FUBAR - which was the main expat hangout. Turns out Yoehan was known around town for being a bastard and they despised him, so they took the photo, projected it on their big screen above the dancefloor, and left it up there for the whole night while the DJ spun tunes and people grooved till the break of dawn.


Believe it or not, there are a ton of things about Yoehan I left out. The man was honestly the most disgusting person I have ever met in my life. Part of me is a little worried he is going to find a way to kill me someday.


But, yes, those memories will linger till I die....

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Wow, what an adventure. This has to be the most entertaining trip report I have ever read.


I think he was trying to say "thin shits" when he said "tin shits." A German slang word for diarrhea is Dünnschiss, which literally means thin shit. I am sure there are many similar cognates in other Germanic languages.

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Thanks guys, glad you liked it.


About that last photo...I showed it to some people back in Urumqi, at a bar/club called FUBAR - which was the main expat hangout. Turns out Yoehan was known around town for being a bastard and they despised him, so they took the photo, projected it on their big screen above the dancefloor, and left it up there for the whole night while the DJ spun tunes and people grooved till the break of dawn.


Believe it or not, there are a ton of things about Yoehan I left out. The man was honestly the most disgusting person I have ever met in my life. Part of me is a little worried he is going to find a way to kill me someday.


But, yes, those memories will linger till I die....


Next time take your own honey badger over, and when Yohan gets all FUBAR (not the bar you reference, that's an acronym for Fuc*ed Up Beyond All Recognition) let the badger loose on his passed out tired mean ass. LOL Seriously a worthy read and a great TR. Thanks!

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