Mission to Burma's tallest mountain

On 7 September a team of mountaineers successfully summited the snow-capped Gamlang Razi in Kachin state.

The joint Burmese-American expedition was made up of five Americans and two Burmese climbers and took 35 days to complete.

The team endured a 150-mile long hike through the jungle before making the ascent.

“We hiked for about seven days through the jungle to the foot of Gamlang Razi,” said Pyi Phyoe, one of the Burmese expedition team members.

“It was a very tiring distance that left us exhausted before we even started climbing. Although the whole expedition took 35 days, the actual climbing took only about seven days and the rest was just hiking.”

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The expedition team arrived back in Rangoon on 21 September and held a press conference to discuss their findings.

The team’s mission was to accurately measure the height of nearby Hkakabo Razi, South East Asia’s tallest mountain.

Using GPS and satellite the team found that Hkakabo Razi is actually lower than the commonly referenced 5881 metre summit height. Their data showed that in fact, Gamlang Razi, measuring at 5850 metres tall was higher than Hkakabo Razi.

But the team has come under fire from Kachin groups for making the climb while nearby in Putao district, the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) are still fighting.

The Kachin News Group reported that hundreds of civilians have been displaced in Putao’s Machyangbaw township and are living in dire conditions.

The expedition was financed by Burmese billionaire and notorious crony Tay Za and his Htoo Foundation. Tay Za has extensive business interests in Putao district, including a vast area for logging.

He has also made attempts to control large amounts of land in the area for gold mining.

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