"The dazzling-white dome ... crowned with a shimmering field of eternal snow," was how the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin described the Father of the Ice Mountains. The 20th century explorer and mountaineer Eric Shipton was unimpressed, describing Muztag Ata much more soberly as, "an isolated peak somewhat resembling a volcanic cone in appearance."
Yet the great man failed to reach the summit after walking for several hours in thick snow trying to find it, vomited from exhaustion on the way down, and got back to his tent with frostbite which left him unable to walk for several weeks afterwards. The man famous for his many expeditions to Everest later said he'd never felt so cold on a mountain in his life.
Undeterred by Shipton's failure, Mark Horrell thought he'd have a go at the mountain himself. Despite its gentle appearance, Muztag Ata reaches a staggeringly whopping height of 7546m. It presents no particular technical challenges, but the steep slog through snow for several days is a true test of physical endurance at such an extreme altitude.
He'd never been so high in his life before and wasn't sure whether he'd manage it. Snowshoes and Shipton is the travel diary of his adventure and will appeal to fans of mountain literature, and especially those with an interest in the great mountain explorer Eric Shipton. It includes many of the author's photographs from his climb.
About Mark Horrell
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Published November 17, 2011
Sports & Outdoors, Travel.