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News 1999/2000

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The end of a century and the beginning of a new one with EWP

Seeing in the New Millennium

Kili at midnight from Barranco
courtesy Richard Ockenden

On the 31st December 1999, just before midnight, 14 of us were on the summit of Kilimanjaro sheltering from the icy wind. A dream had come true and we had the summit to ourselves. The EWP group were the last people of the 20th Century to be on the summit - and the first in the New Millennium. Far below we could see the lights of Moshi and Arusha, further south, on the horizon, rising from a silvery carpet of mists, rose ranges of mountains silhouetted against a starry sky.

Two bottles of Champagne lubricated our throats for a toast to the New Millennium. Then we let off a flare and started down to our camp in the crater and the warmth of our sleeping bags. As we walked down we saw probably as many as 500 head torches starting up the scree slopes below us - groups setting off to see the first sunrise in the New Millennium.

A record number of walkers were on the mountain and all routes were packed out. We had chosen to go up the little used Lemosho Route which we shared with only one other group. On the way down we were one of the first to leave the Mweka huts, it took us about 5 minutes to get clear of the seemingly endless campsites. Things had certainly changed a lot since my first ascent of the Mweka route in 1982 when my guide had to cut a path through the undergrowth and we saw nobody else on the mountain for a whole week.

The excitement is over now, calm has returned to the mountain. If you are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro consider the Lemosho for a long walk-in through remote forest; Umbwe for a fast tough and dramatic approach and Machame as a compromise combining time for acclimatisation with some magnificent ice scenery. If however you are not a strong mountain walker or are short of time then the Marangu offers a varied, beautiful approach in relative comfort. Trip information.

Return to the Muzkol Pamir
The 1999 expedition to the Muzkol ended in the death of Ulf Carlsson, former chairman of the Mountain Club of Kenya, on the north face of Zartosh (6106m unclimbed). Our fifth trip to the Muzkol was hopefully going to result in the ascent of Zartosh. On the way up a plaque was placed at 5100m where Ulf was buried on a glacier. On our attempt we encountered very deep and unconsolidated snow on the way up to Zartosh and poor snow on rock in the final couloirs. Giles Cornah and Kevin Turner pushed on till the going became just too dangerous and they retreated 100m short of the summit ridge. For Giles this was the second time he got so near to the prize. The "VS" group then moved on to visit and explore a new area near Kurumdy (see below).

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Eastern Sunrise Peak (Zaalaiski Pamir)
Located on the borders of Tadjikistan, Kirgystan and China in the northernmost range of the Pamir (the Zaalaiski Ridge) Eastern Sunrise, 6346m, and neighbouring Kurumdy, 6613m, are two of the highest 6000m peaks still unclimbed in the former Soviet Union. This year a group organized by Tom Avery visited the area in July. Our EWP group - fresh (tired out?) from the Muzkol arrived a few weeks later in August. As is the usual pattern the weather in July was very bad and Tom's group were forced to retreat on Kurumdy whereas the EWP group had near perfect weather but too little time (the only bad day was when they pushed to a high point on Eastern Sunrise). Both groups explored the much less daunting but still quite challenging "lower" peaks north of the main ridge and found an endless supply of magnificent mountains to explore. Full Report

In August 2001 EWP will visit the area again - see details: Eastern Sunrise 2001
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Caucasus and Elbrus
10 EWP groups climbed Elbrus this summer. Our success rate for reaching the main summit this season was almost 93% (38 out of 41). One group just managed to get off the mountain before a major storm which caused a landslide in Tyrnyauz, a mining town some 30 km. north of Elbrus in the Baksan Valley. The main road was cut and several buildings destroyed. As a result our groups immediately after the disaster had to walk over the landslide area to reach transport on the far side.

This year several groups have decided to tackle the mountain quite late in the year - the last summited in mid-October. At this time of year the weather is stable and there are not too many people around - you will have the mountain to yourselves - but it can be extremely cold!
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Again EWP organised a traverse of the Fagaras Ridge with our main guide Andrei Belaua. This has to be one of the best mountain wilderness adventures in Europe combining the mediaeval rural charm of Romania with its cultural heritage and magnificent mountains - the Fagaras being one of Europes longest high level ridge walks.

Several groups have walked and climbed on Mount Kenya with us this year. For those seeking a real wilderness adventure try out the Ithanguni Route which takes you along elephant and buffalo trails through some of the mountains most unspoilt forest. This route was used in April by the Warren-Miller group filming skiing on Point Lenana - though the denser stands of bamboo did tend to slow the girls who were carrying their skis! Our main guides, Dickson and Festus, have an almost unrivalled reputation for making your trip enjoyable. They will arrange local and european foods as well as inviting you to sing along with them and the porters in the evenings.

Wilson our main technical guide has now guided several EWP clients to the summits of Nelion and Batian and he could also spend a few days running an introductory climbing course on some of the lower summits of Mount Kenya.

Tanzania / Zanzibar
Our base hotel in Moshi has undergone a major expansion. It now has a swimming pool and a the accommodation has been extended so that even the biggest of our groups will be able to fit in the hotel with space to spare. Laurence the hotel forest guide has established himself an excellent reputation for his monkey and bird walks from the hotel.

We have now also established good links with Zanzibar - a veritable island paradise in the Indian Ocean. Check out our site and deals which we believe to be some of the best available on the net. Zanzibar

Sadly the Rwenzori are still unsafe and the Park is officially closed. Efforts are continuing to rid the area of marauding armed gangs that have infiltrated western Uganda from neighbouring Congo. Reports have come in that some groups have entered the park under an army escort. In Kasese, at the foot of the Rwenzori, the roads are being re-surfaced and a mining is being revived in nearby Kilembe to exploit the cobalt and copper deposits.
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Western and Central Pamir
The Fann mountains in Tadjikistan have continued to be popular destination though quite a few were put off by negative advice being given out by the foreign department. The complex geography of the area has isolated the Fann from the problems associated with Islamic extremists in the Dushanbe area and those who have been trying to infiltrate the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan. It is essential to monitor the situation carefully if you are planning to visit the area as we continuously monitor the situation and we may have to cancel the trip if there is any sign of real danger in the area. However be discerning about advice given by the foreign office which has a policy of blanket warnings against a whole country irrespective of region.

This year we also had one trip to Peak Lenin. A small group reached the summit. If politics allow we will be there again in 2001.
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ALW 16/6/05