Climbers Aid Archeologists In Mustang Region of Nepal

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The National Geographic Adventure Blog was updated this morning with a cool story about world class climbers joined an NG sponsored expedition last summer, and were ultimately able to help archeologists to recover artifacts they may not have had the opportunity to gather on their own.

The climbers in question were none other than Pete Athans, who has reached the summit of Everest on seven different occasions, and Renan Ozturk, a rock climber who has tackled big walls all over the planet. The two men were able to scale the challenging, and often crumbling, walls of the Mustang Valley region of Nepal to reach a series of tunnels and chambers that were carved out of the rock by humans who used the place as their village. The dwellings, communal rooms, and temples, are found some 700 feet off the ground. How challenging was the climbing you ask? At one point, they were only able to gain 328 vertical feet over a 14 hour period.

Once inside this ancient rock dwelling, the climbers hit the mother-lode in terms or archeological finds. They discovered more than 8000 manuscripts in one room alone that give great insight into the people who once lived in the Mustang district and what life was like for them living in their cave dwelling.

The expedition was filmed of course, and tomorrow night, we’re all going to get a chance to watch it. It’ll air on PBS here in the U.S. tomorrow night at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central in a show entitled Lost Cave Temples of the Himalaya. But don’t miss the lead in show, Secrets of Shangri-La, which gives more insight and information on the Kingdom of Mustang and the caves there. That show airs one hour before Lost Cave Temples.

Personally, I’m looking forward to watching these shows. I had the opportunity to meet Pete Athans last year, and see a preview of this show, and it was amazing. The Mustang region is very interesting and mysterious, and it was fun to watch these climbers help unearth some amazing finds. They caught the scene were they enter the manuscript chamber on video, which was great, but there was also plenty of other drama before they even set foot in the caves. Pete talked about how local villagers showed up on the scene once they found out that outsiders were in the area, and were hoping to get a cut of any “treasure” that the might find.

This is a very interesting story on a seldom seen part of the Himalaya. Definitely worth watching, so don’t forget to set the DVR!

Kraig Becker

8 thoughts on “Climbers Aid Archeologists In Mustang Region of Nepal”

  1. Definately amazing stuff. It will be interesting to see what they had to write about in whatever time period they lived in.

  2. I'm guessing the scrolls and manuscripts are early Buddhist philosophies and such, although I'm sure there were plenty of other things as well. Finding 8000 manuscripts is quite the discovery, and hopefully the show tomorrow night will go into more detail on it.

  3. I remember reading about this a couple years ago, and recall this tidbit:

    "The team has refused to reveal the exact location of the caves, fearing visitors could disturb the centuries-old art."

    Interesting. Do you think they were concerned more about the artwork, or maybe worried about jeopardizing their exclusive National Geographic special?

    The fact that they are featuring this on a NG special is probably going to tip people off to the location of the cave.

    Count me as a "cynic", but it's interesting nonetheless!

  4. I'm sure it was a little of both Wade. When I talked to Pete last year, he was saying that the place could be raided by local villagers who would then sell the stuff off for cash. They wanted to protect it as much as possible since the area was fairly open and exposed, although you do have to be a good climber obviously. 🙂

    I doubt Pete Athans was all that concerned about keeping an NG sponsorship though. He probably doesn't have a lot of problems getting sponsored for any project he wants to pursue.

    Looking forward to seeing this tomorrow night though.

  5. Now this is very cool.
    History, mystery, adventure, and companionship while supporting another group.
    Very cool…

  6. Yep! Should be great. Can't wait to watch tonight. Not sure if they'll be showing this North of the border though DSD! Hope you can catch it though. 🙂

  7. This is remarkable stuff. I'm sure if I found these things I would have held back the locations too. The religious zombies would destroy them without thinking twice. Got codecs? Not anymore, same thing.

    I hope discoveries of this sort encourage more pure research. Measures must be taken to obstruct looters and zealous ignoramouses.

  8. Watched both of these last night on PBS Knowledge Network – Both were amazing and begs for more research and interpretation of the found documents as well as the lost religion [forgot the name] that was conquered by Buddhism.

    Personally I enjoyed the one narrated by Peter's wife – her voice and intonation made the story more alive and compelling over the voice over on the other.

    Could not believe the incredible shots under the circumstances you were faced with. What type of camera[s] did you use and how did you mic the climbing scenes? [I'm a dp and was blown away bu the quality of the camera work in the conditions.

    Keep up the great work.

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