Thursday, December 21, 2006

Charlie Fowler, missing in Kham


Charlie Fowler, originally uploaded by jiulong.

World class mountaineer and guide Charlie Fowler has been missing since last month, somewhere in Kham. He was last seen with his climbing partner Christine Boskoff In Litang, from where he sent an email saying they were considering going to the Genyan range in W Sichuan or to Deqin in Yunnan to try climb one of the minor peaks of the Kawa Karpo range. There is also an unconfirmed report of them being seen near Yangmalyong north of Batang.
They may have met with a climbing accident or have been done in by some local people, who are often not happy about outsiders trying to climb their sacred peaks.



UPDATE: Charlie apparently died in a climbing accident on the Genyen mountain. His body was recovered by a team of American and Tibetan climbers, with little help from Chinese authorities:

(From the Montrose Daily Press)

[Search party leader] Ted Callahan called Litang police's insistence the area had already been searched "patently false."
The e-mails had suggested early on that the climbers might be on Genyen.
"They had been disregarded because local police in Litang claimed they searched two different (peak) entrances. The police claimed around Dec. 13 they sent in teams and hadn't found any sign of them. It's patently false," Callahan said.
Monks from a nearby monastery distinctly remembered seeing Boskoff and Fowler, even the date, because it coincided with a Buddhist festival.
"At the end, the Chinese press was claiming they (government) had sent the teams up that discovered the body and had deployed planes and helicopters," Callahan said. "We must not have noticed those."
And, he said, officials later had to retract their claim of having sent 200 searchers. "Not even the Chinese media would believe it." Even so, Callahan alleged, the Litang authorities were demanding some reimbursement for their minimal efforts and were blaming the U.S. Consulate for holding them back.
"We're fine with them taking credit, but we're not willing to finance their blandishments," Callahan said.
"The support we got from the Chinese came entirely from the climbers who were assisting us in the search. They worked tirelessly and were devoted to it. But officially, we didn't receive much (local) assistance. ...There was always pledges of support coming from the higher levels, but it never materialized into any tangible support."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

As much as i respect the climber, why would he trespass the sacred mountain of the locals if you and he all know too well that this is not welcomed?

your unfound allegation that the local might have done something bad to him is outrages.

please, have some sensibility.

Michael W. said...

I don't condone the climbing of this mountain against the wishes of the local people (if that is what they did, who knows???). It is not unfounded to say that he may have been attacked by someone locl in Kham. There has laready been one violent robbery of two kiwis and their Chinese guide last month in the same area. The local people are really nice but there are some bad people on the roads travelling through.
I hope Charlie Folwer and his partner are found safe. That's the reason I posted this - to show that the area is still somewhere you can disappear and you eed to let people know where you ae going.

Anonymous said...

Unconfirmed information on 12/28. A body partially buried under snow was found near the last place Charlie had visited. It looks like there was a snowslide. The identity of the body was not available due to the bad weather condition there.

Anonymous said...

Unconfirmed bad news. A body was found near the last place Charlie visited. The body is partially buried under snow, and the identity is not available due to the bad weather condition. It seems a snowslide has happened.

Michael W. said...

Thanks for the update - doesn't look good. The area is in the Genyen mountains, quite a way west of the area Rock explored

Michael W. said...

[Search party leader] Ted Callahan called Litang police's insistence the area had already been searched "patently false."
The e-mails had suggested early on that the climbers might be on Genyen.
"They had been disregarded because local police in Litang claimed they searched two different (peak) entrances. The police claimed around Dec. 13 they sent in teams and hadn't found any sign of them. It's patently false," Callahan said.
Monks from a nearby monastery distinctly remembered seeing Boskoff and Fowler, even the date, because it coincided with a Buddhist festival.
"At the end, the Chinese press was claiming they (government) had sent the teams up that discovered the body and had deployed planes and helicopters," Callahan said. "We must not have noticed those."
And, he said, officials later had to retract their claim of having sent 200 searchers. "Not even the Chinese media would believe it." Even so, Callahan alleged, the Litang authorities were demanding some reimbursement for their minimal efforts and were blaming the U.S. Consulate for holding them back.
"We're fine with them taking credit, but we're not willing to finance their blandishments," Callahan said.
"The support we got from the Chinese came entirely from the climbers who were assisting us in the search. They worked tirelessly and were devoted to it. But officially, we didn't receive much (local) assistance. ...There was always pledges of support coming from the higher levels, but it never materialized into any tangible support."