Rob DesLauriers 
John Falkiner 
Frederik Jacobi 
Kit Katzenbach 
Ace Kvale 
Kasha Rigby 
Scot Schmidt 
Jim Zellers 

Good Karma on an Incredible Journey
Sunday, April 4, 1999 — 8:56am (PST)

Deslauriers Skiing
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Hello Mountain Zone. This is Rob DesLauriers calling in from the Altai for the team, and as we prepare to depart from our Base Camp and start our two-day trek down valley, we kind of had a great day of skiing up here. We got some filming of some couloirs above Camp, and the horses arrived and we packed up for that, and that was just kind of exciting in itself, getting all the bags down to a place that the horses would like and figuring out how we're going to carry all this out as we ski down the river valley ourselves. But it should be an interesting part of the next part of the journey.

As we've been here, we've been reflecting on our incredible fortune with weather. The day we flew in was the first sunny day in a month or so, and we've actually had three sunny days in 15, and we've heard that there's only 30 sunny days a year in the Altai, including the summer.

You know, we did a lot of research on the region. When Ace started looking at the area, he was most intrigued by its unexplored nature, and as we read more and more about it, we found there was a lot of mystical lore about this region. A lot of the world's religions can trace some of their roots back to this area. Buddhism, for example, considers it to be called the "white summer," the other name for the mountain in the Buddhist tradition, and they believe it's the center of the world. It is the actually "Shambala" for them, and there are a lot of pilgrimages that come up to this area.

This area has remained completely untouched in the whole Soviet era, which is kind of unique. The people here still practice some ancient traditions of Shamanism — the native people, and a lot of stories we read about people who had been here kind of had a very spiritual time, kind of an enlightening time, and we've had an incredible journey here. The weather, as we reflect back, seems to be an indicator of the good intentions of the team, and the good people that we have on the team and also our good luck and our connection with the mountain.

When we first arrived, there wasn't any snow in this river valley. We had to tour 17 miles up and it snowed the night before we went, which made it tourable. And then our first night up there, it snowed and it made the ski back down possible. Then we began our circumnavigation of the mountain. We had actually three days of pretty stable weather, which allowed us to get three days around and three advanced camps on the way to the summit in pretty good weather, which was fortunate because we built those snowcaves and we really needed 10 or 12 hours of nice weather. Then we finally got to our final camp, Camp 3. We needed a rest day and sure enough, it snowed, which was very interesting. So, we weren't even tempted to bust a move for the summit.

And the next day it broke clear, and we got to check out the whole route and shoot some ski footage. Then on our summit day it was absolutely beautiful that morning. We started the trek and about half way through the day, when we got to the lower bergshrund, the weather shut down. We left our gear there and we continued to the summit, which was absolutely the right thing to do because the conditions from the bergshrund up were literally blue ice. We had to go on fixed lines, all roped up and four-pointing with crampons and ice axes up to the summit, and it wasn't skiable.

Then we got to the summit, and it started to clear for our descent. It was just an amazing combination of factors that allowed us to get to the summit and then get back to Camp safely, which didn't happen until like 6:30 at night. It was an incredibly long day. We were just kind of amazed by that, and as we worked our way back out, with another 10 or 12 hour day, the weather was pretty stable to get us back to Base Camp. We feel really fortunate for that, and everybody seems to be kind of at peace with the whole trip and with themselves here. It's been an amazing journey.

We think perhaps this is a very special deal for each of our own reasons, and we're very happy to have been here and now we look forward to trekking out, hopefully seeing some of these cultures that have lived relatively untouched in how they live — check out some of the farmers in the mountains and that kind of thing on our two day trek out. So we will keep you posted from the Altai.

Kasha would like to pass on her thanks and hello to Adam as well, and I'll put you on with her... [hear Kasha in the background] ... oh, she's good with that because she has a toothbrush in her mouth.

Okay, well, goodbye from the Altai. Thanks for keeping tabs on us and sending us all the love and good vibrations from the other side of the world as I'm sure it contributed as well. Bye.

Rob DesLauriers, Mountain Zone Correspondent


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