Fowler, Boskoff Missing in Tibet


Charlie Fowler and Chris Boskoff, two of America's leading alpinists, have gone missing in Tibet's Genyen region, since November 29 (they were due to return to the United States on December 4). As a result of their absence, the American Jon Otto who is familiar with the area has organized a search team, and a fund has been established to aid the search for Fowler and Boskoff via a tax-deductable donation to Telluride Mountainfilm (see mountainfilm.org for information on how to support). The search team departed on December 14 to Litang, looking for clues of the pair's whereabouts.

After a first ascent of the often sought-after Yala Peak in early October, the pair returned to the Genyen region of Tibet on November 7. Here, Fowler wrote an email explaining the pair's next goal, an unnamed 6,509-meter peak. "We're in the town of Litang for a few days ... getting ready for one more trip into the hills," wrote Fowler. "We just got back from attempting a peak I tried in '96 doing a film. ... This time the peak was a lot less icy (global warming?) ... we got near the top but backed off due to scary conditions — thin snow over rock slabs. Had a blast climbing as far as we did, though. 'We did our best with dying,' to quote Chris. Now off to one more different area to try a 6000-meter peak and a smaller one, then traveling back doing the tourist thing."

On November 9, Fowler and Boskoff traveled to the Western Sichuan Province of Genyen, China, with intentions of attempting the aforementioned 6,509-meter peak south of Genyen, in Dechin. Since their departure, communication has stopped.

The United States Consulate General and the provincial Foreign Affairs Office have gotten involved, as well as local police. On December 9, Fowler's friends contacted a number of mountaineering associations concerning the party's location, including Ganzi Mountaineering and Sichuan Mountaineering, and the chief of Zhangla (near Genyen). From these sources it was found no climbers arranged for a permit of any peaks in the area, and that none have been through the Genyen region. Thus far, the search team has gained no useful information from Litang about Fowler and Boskoff. As of Sunday, December 17, a contributing writer for Climbing is in Sichuan, involved in the search efforts on the ground. Our contributor reports of no further developments on this front either. Look for an updated report of the search in issue no. 256 of Climbing.

Furthurmore, Damon Johnston, friend of both Fowler and Boskoff, has created a blog to help the information-gathering process at fowlerboskoff.blogspot.com. This blog contains information on how to donate to the search efforts, since the search is entirely out-of-pocket at this point, and also provides progress updates.

Charlie Fowler is long revered as one of the world's leading climbers, with multiple expeditions and first ascents around the world, and extensive guiding and education in the climbing community at large. He graced the cover of Climbing No. 139 and was featured in the same issue for his lifetime of commitment to the lifestyle and endeavors of climbing.

Chris Boskoff is the CEO of Mountain Madness, a world's leading expedition and travel outfit. The Wisconsin native has to her credit more high-altitude summits than any other woman in the world, including Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, Mont Blanc, Ama Dablam, and Lhotse, a peak she bagged — the first ever by a woman — just four years after her introduction to the sport. Since Lhotse, she has reached the summit of six of the world's tallest peaks.

Date: December 4, 2006

Sources: Damon Johnston, Forest Atkinson, Arlene Burns, John Harlin, Ted Callahan, alpinist.com, mounteverest.net

 




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