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This Tallest Mountain in Southeast Asia is Said to be Tougher that Everest. Here's why
TRAVEL AND TOURISM Myanmar

This Tallest Mountain in Southeast Asia is Said to be Tougher that Everest. Here's why

“We spend our lives in the Himalayas training. However, this one trumped anything we had experienced.”

Hkakabo Razi (pronounced KA-kuh-bo RAH-zee) is said to be the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Cut with jagged massif of black rock and white glaciers, it rises out of the jungles of northern Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). The mountain, located beyond the eastern edge of the Himalayas on the border with Tibet, was first measured back in 1925 at 19,296 feet high. It is a peak so remote that just getting to the mountain requires a two-week hike through dense jungle with plunging gorges — and inhabited by venomous snakes.

“After our 125-mile retreat back down the mountain, we were both emaciated but relieved. By that moment we had eaten every cashew and even the rinds of our Parmesan cheese. No one had been seriously injured, our spirits were intact, and the lure of returning may even have been seeded that day as we finally set down our packs.”  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6bXGhC  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
“After our 125-mile retreat back down the mountain, we were both emaciated but relieved. By that moment we had eaten every cashew and even the rinds of our Parmesan cheese. No one had been seriously injured, our spirits were intact, and the lure of returning may even have been seeded that day as we finally set down our packs.” Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6bXGhC Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook

 

Hkakabo Razi is sometimes called the “Anti-Everest” because there are no infrastructure, guides, porters, or easy trails to the mountain. In 2014, National Geographic granted an expedition to determine just how tall this mountain actually is (its height has been challenged by a nearby mountain, Gamlang Razi). The trek was supported by The North Face, SanDisk, Red, and Sony; it was featured in National Geographic Magazine and will be spotlighted in a one-hour episode of its Explorers series (to air on TV in the spring of 2016).

“Camp 1 on Hkakabo Razi on the eastern edge of the Himalaya. It was a first ascent and none of the camps are established. There was much at play as to where to put the camp and we settled on a less than flat space on the edge of a pinnacle.”  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6iAtdc  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
“Camp 1 on Hkakabo Razi on the eastern edge of the Himalaya. It was a first ascent and none of the camps are established. There was much at play as to where to put the camp and we settled on a less than flat space on the edge of a pinnacle.” Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6iAtdc Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook

The expedition team’s challenges included run-ins with warlords, having to cut gear in half (twice), running out of food and fuel, having all their spinning hard drives fail at about 13,000 feet, and then having to hike 100 miles through the jungle each way.

“This photo was taken on our final summit push on Hkakabo Razi. The humid jungles to the south created a sea of clouds below. It was minus-20-degrees Fahrenheit, and we only had one sleeping bag between us to go light on our final attempt to reach the top.”  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6pOBzJ  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
“This photo was taken on our final summit push on Hkakabo Razi. The humid jungles to the south created a sea of clouds below. It was minus-20-degrees Fahrenheit, and we only had one sleeping bag between us to go light on our final attempt to reach the top.” Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6pOBzJ Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook

Stretched to the limit, the team — which included videographer Renan Ozturk, author Mark Jenkins, photographer Cory Richards, climber Emily Harrington, base camp manager Taylor Rees, and expedition leader Hilaree O’Neill – began running low on food on the hike out.

“If we had pushed on, it would've meant spending a night out in the open and maybe losing fingers, toes, or our lives. We set out to determine the highest point in Southeast Asia and fell short. Judging by how far the summit was above us we speculated what's the highest peak.”  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6wNDEO  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
“If we had pushed on, it would've meant spending a night out in the open and maybe losing fingers, toes, or our lives. We set out to determine the highest point in Southeast Asia and fell short. Judging by how far the summit was above us we speculated what's the highest peak.” Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf6wNDEO Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook


With resources depleting, not everyone could go on the final ascension, creating a lot of drama within the small team. In the end, the conditions were so harsh that they only reached 18,840 feet before having to turn back.

Scaling Hkakabo Razi is treacherous from start to finish.  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf73CC1T  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
Scaling Hkakabo Razi is treacherous from start to finish. Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf73CC1T Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook


Although they were able not reach the summit and ultimately solve the mystery of Myanmar’s tallest mountain, they were able to come back alive to document it. We spoke with videographer Ozturk to recount this physically and mentally grueling adventure.

“The remote villages leading up to Hkakabo Razi lie along an old salt trade route that spanned into China and Tibet. The villages themselves embedded deep within the Burmese jungle embodied such a sense of community, generosity, and openness. We slept in these villages during our ascent, and descent, using a translator to share stories and learn about their lives.”  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf7FKd9F  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
“The remote villages leading up to Hkakabo Razi lie along an old salt trade route that spanned into China and Tibet. The villages themselves embedded deep within the Burmese jungle embodied such a sense of community, generosity, and openness. We slept in these villages during our ascent, and descent, using a translator to share stories and learn about their lives.” Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf7FKd9F Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook


Tell us a little about the goals of the expedition.
Renan Ozturk: The expedition was a National Geographic-granted expedition, with the scientific goal of climbing the remote peaks at the far eastern edge of the Burmese Himalaya and using GPS technology, in order to solve the mystery of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.


What were some of the major challenges you had to deal with along the way?
“Things were constantly falling apart. It was a mental battle every day to stay positive.”
Just to reach the base of the mountain, we had to travel overland on trains, dirt bikes, and eventually 150 miles through the remote jungle. There is no infrastructure for expeditions in Burma, and we were wrong to assume it would be easy to get our gear all the way into the mountain. A lack of porters and local food forced us to cut our food supply, warm clothing, and camera gear in half, and in half again just so that we could keep moving through the treacherous jungle.

“After the expedition, Taylor Rees and I went to Bagan to experience a different side of Burma's culture. Bagan is the tourist capital of the country, with its iconic temples and hot air balloon rides. We would go to the lesser-known temples to view the tourists themselves – a reflection of Burma's recently opened doors. Also a stark contrast to the remote jungles and villages we had just come from.”  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf7L4N2k  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
“After the expedition, Taylor Rees and I went to Bagan to experience a different side of Burma's culture. Bagan is the tourist capital of the country, with its iconic temples and hot air balloon rides. We would go to the lesser-known temples to view the tourists themselves – a reflection of Burma's recently opened doors. Also a stark contrast to the remote jungles and villages we had just come from.” Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf7L4N2k Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook


How were you pushed mentally as well as physically?
The expedition put us in a constant state of unknown. We woke up every day with new challenges ranging from venomous snakes on the trail, lack of porters, hunger, leaches, dead-end route-finding on the mountain, and a difficult team dynamic. Things were constantly falling apart and it was a mental battle every day to stay positive. On top of that we were starving due to a shortage of food during the 15 miles a day through the jungle, which also contributed to members of the team on the brink of frostbite and death from high-altitude exposure, high on the mountain.
There were points where the mental and physical hardship were so great that we had to make life-or-death decisions in order to live to tell the story.

“After 100 miles in the jungle our porters built a makeshift camp of fallen bamboo stalks. Photographer Cory Richard shows off some photos from the day on the treacherous trails near the Burma-Tibet-China border.”  Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf7Tgo5n  Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook
“After 100 miles in the jungle our porters built a makeshift camp of fallen bamboo stalks. Photographer Cory Richard shows off some photos from the day on the treacherous trails near the Burma-Tibet-China border.” Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/scaling-asias-anti-everest-mountain/#ixzz4Uf7Tgo5n Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook


How did you prepare yourself to shoot in conditions like this?
All the members of the team were professional climbers as well as creatives for National Geographic and The North Face. We spend our lives in the Himalayas training and gaining experience for these types of expeditions. However, this one trumped anything we had experienced. There was no way of predicting the hardships we encountered, and the jungle was a claustrophobic new environment for us mountain folk. If I ever go back, I’ll have a few tricks up my sleeve for better jungle survival.


What equipment did you bring along to document the trip?

In 2015, Renan Ozturk’s work on two major feature documentaries (Meru and Sherp) gained him an international reputation as one of the leading mountain cinematographers in the world. He is the co-founder and director at Camp 4 Collective, a video production company in Utah.
We brought the entire gamut from the Red Dragon, Lite Pro Gear lightweight cranes, small drones, Sony A7S full-frame mirrorless cameras, and SanDisk solid state drives and huge 512GB memory cards. In the end, the gear was stripped down to the bare essentials and only the Sony A7S with a SanDisk 512GB cards were on the summit push.


And how did the equipment hold up?
The whole expedition was a constant stripping away of gear, food, and physical and mental energy. Documenting this adventure was a huge challenge for all our technology, and in the end only the Sony and SanDisk equipment survived the gauntlet of weather and conditions, from near sea level to 19,000 feet on the highest peak in this part of the Himalayas.


Being able to have a small mirrorless full-frame camera and reliable solid-state storage really made these extreme stories possible to tell, and tell in a cinematic way. The footage is online in a 20-minute Vimeo Staff pick. The North Face film will also be part of the National Geographic Television Explorer series in 2016. The stills from the A7S opened and closed the Nat Geo “Point Of No Return” print article as well.

Source: digitaltrends.com

Photos by : Renan Ozturk/National Geographic

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