Renowned American climber Charlie Fowler and high-altitude mountaineer Christine Boskoff have gone missing in central-western China. The pair had been on expedition since the autumn, and had managed the first ascent of the oft-attempted Yala Peak in early October. …
The pair traveled to Genyen, in China’s Western Sichuan Province, November 9 and were due to return November 25. Several files discovered on Fowler’s computer show that he had a clear intention to head south to Dechin to attempt an unnamed, 6509-meter peak. The hike into this peak would take two days from Dechin and is therefore a feasible objective given the amount of time they had left before their December 4 flight home.
When Fowler and Boskoff failed to return to the United States December 4, a cautionary note was raised among friends. In the time since, the concern has focused on developing a search team and strategy. American climber Jon Otto, who has extensive experience in the area, has been retained to lead the efforts.
The search leaders sent a team to Litang on December 14 to investigate the town for clues about the Americans, but found no information regarding any stays in local hotels. It is possible Fowler and Boskoff stayed with a family or in a farmer’s field; Boskoff had also cited a monastery at the base of the 6200-meter Genyen, so searchers are also considering this location.
We are unclear what is meant by “Dechin” — perhaps Deqin? Maybe, then, they were planning to attempt Kawagebo Peak on the Diqing Plateau in northern Yunnan’s Deqin County. According to Wikipedia it’s the tallest peak in Yunnan at 6,740 meters. Although Kawagebo is obviously not unnamed, so perhaps another peak in Deqin County. [UPDATE: A little digging shows that they were likely trying to climb Peak 6509/Meili Shue Shan II, the second-highest summit in the Meili Shue Shan range. It is mentioned on this list of the highest unclimbed peaks in Asia. From summitpost.org: “‘Peak 6509 was attempted in 1993 by an American team, but was aborted at approx. 6100m due to avalanche conditions, a snow wall and a cornice that was blocking the access to the ridge.”]
A blog has been created to track the Fowler-Boskoff search efforts. It also includes information on how you can donate to the cause.
More information on Boskoff can be found here and here. Fowler has a personal website and a blog (that appears to be invitation only).
Here is the Associated Press report.
Photo of Christine Boskoff climbing on Broad Peak, Pakistan (K2 in the background) by Charlie Fowler.