PRESS RELEASE UP-DATE
DONATE TO THE FOWLER-BOSKOFF SEARCH FUND WITH CREDIT CARD
Colorado-based climbers Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff are missing and presumed to be on or below a remote 6,000m+ mountain near the towns of Litang and Batang in Sichuan Province, China.
TIMELINE & ACTIONS
• On December 11, 2006, Mark Gunlogson, President of Mountain Madness (Boskoff’s company in Seattle WA), confirmed that the pair was not on their scheduled flight back to the U.S. on December 4, 2006.
• On December 12, 2006, the FBSC was formed in Telluride as an independent but linked search effort in tandem with Mountain Madness in Seattle WA.
• In order to narrow the search area by putting together a short list of possible stops and destinations by the pair, information was assembled from Fowler and Boskoff’s last email communications with friends and family, and from Fowler’s computer that was left behind with his business partner.
• On December 13, 2006, the FBSC proposed to Mountainfilm In Telluride that it could establish an account under its non-profit umbrella to accept tax deductible donations from anywhere in the world for the search effort. Mountainfilm agreed and has put the account information on its blog (http://blog.mountainfilm.org). The details of the account are noted below. Another blog, the Fowler-Boskoff Search Engine (http://fowlerboskoff.blogspot.com), was established as an appeal for information from anyone that has recently spent time in the region as well as for funds to maintain the search effort.
• On December 14, 2006, the FBSC established a funding goal of $75,000 in order to fully implement the strategic phasing of a ground search, a possible search-and-rescue, and a search from the air.
• On December 15, 2006, the FBSC enlisted two China-based field managers. This has enabled two coordinated search groups to set out to the two locations that the FBSC has deemed probable.
• On December 18, 2006, the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China, reported that the governments of Yunnan and Sichuan Province and the Tibetan Autonomous Region are officially working on the Fowler-Boskoff case.
• On December 18, 2006, the Field Coordinator in Chengdu reported:
- Two foreigners were sighted about a month ago in a village north of Batang, one of the primary search areas (near Yangmalong Peak). A search team in the area was directed to focus their efforts on tracking down more information on this report.
- Four teams are currently out:
Deqin: checking both entrance points to Unnamed Peak 6509
Batang: Checked out Batang County seat together with government officials including County Chief. No records in hotels, one possible sighting a month ago in a restaurant.
Litang County: Confirmed sighting of Charlie and Christine in an Internet café around the time of the November 8 email to friends in the U.S. Two unconfirmed sightings of them between November 15 and 20. Driver stated that Christine inquired about cars to Deqin. Also checking out rumors of a car accident on the Litang–Ganzi road in Xinlong County (north of Litang).
Genyen: Checking out Genyen monasteries with a high monk.
- Two New Zealanders were robbed at knifepoint in Genyen area in October. They did not resist but their interpreter was injured. The attackers have not been found.
• On December 19, 2006, a concerted effort to corral politically weighted support for the search in hopes of elevating awareness at high levels within China was mounted from both Telluride CO and Seattle WA:
- Colorado Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colo) sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador in Beijing expressing gratitude for the consular support—recent and future—regarding all aspects the search.
- The American Alpine Club contacted Representative Mark Udall (D-Colo) about the situation.
- Colleagues of former Washington Governor Gary Locke informed the Chief of Staff to Premier Wen JiaBao in person of the situation and the search efforts underway in the two provinces.
- Current Washington Governor Christine Gregoire sent a letter to the Governor of their sister city in Sichuan Province requesting support for the search.
• On December 20, 2006, the Field Coordinator in Chengdu reported:
- Found by one of the daily search teams in Litang in a visitors book at a restaurant:
9 November 06: “Great food and people, enjoyed the food. The mountains around Yading are awesome. Countryside reminds us of home. We’ll be back.” - Chris Boskoff and Charlie Fowler, Norwood, Colorado, US.
- A reward has been set up in the amount of 30,000 RMB (approx. $4,000 USD) for information leading to the whereabouts of Fowler and Boskoff. The monies were officially (and physically) handed to the Sichuan Mountaineering Association (SMA) today with a Sichuan TV station crew filming. The “Missing” posters have been reprinted and redistributed with the reward info. The Field Team in Dongba stated that, “the reward is attracting a lot of attention.”
• On December 20, 2006, CNN International-Beijing arrived in Chengdu to cover the story. They will “shadow” a field team heading for Kangding on December 21 and then travel on to Litang and Batang. Highlighted will be the search itself, the reward, the cooperation between the SMA and the search teams, and the towns themselves.
• On December 21, 2006, during the daily conference call between Telluride and Chengdu, it was determined to temporarily put on hold the southern search near Dechin in Yunnan Province. All teams will be necessary for checking the routes into Yangmolong (6060m) and the Genyen area. The narrowed search areas are west of Litang.
• On December 21, 2006, the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China, confirmed that Fowler and Boskoff had called the Consulate at the beginning of November about an attempted theft of their gear that they had left at an inn near Yading, in southwestern Sichuan. A Chinese woman staying at the same hotel ate three meals—lunch, dinner and breakfast—with Fowler and Boskoff. She helped them retrieve their belongings that were caught up in a dispute between the innkeeper and a non-paying visitor. She said they told her they had already been in Yading for about a week and did not plan to do any further climbing there and planned to do some other climbs in Sichuan. She last saw them around noon on November 7, 2006, when they flagged down a car to go to Daocheng. Daocheng is 130 km north from the Yading Scenic Area, and then another 150 km north to Litang.
Also confirmed that:
- Fowler and Boskoff renewed their visas on October 26, 2006 in Kangding
- Sichuan provincial broadcast and print outlets have picked up the story, including photos. There was also TV and print coverage in Yunnan, national radio coverage, and a number of popular websites carried it as well. This is very widespread coverage that includes all areas where Fowler and Boskoff are known to have traveled and where they might have been planning to go.
• On December 22, 2006, the Field Coordinator in Chengdu reported:
- A Field Team has located where Fowler and Boskoff stayed in Litang: A hostel near the restaurant with the signed visitor’s book. Many tourists stay there as it is listed in Lonely Planet’s guidebook.
- By December 24, 2006, a Field Team of fifteen will have arrived in Litang.
- The approach to Yangmolong will simultaneously be made from the north along the Sanchu River (1991 Japanese team route) and from the northwest from the village of Dangba. Given the time of year and amount of snow, the teams might not be able to hire pack animals, thus extending the time to make the approaches. A rendezvous point will be chosen, most likely in the pastures near Lake Yamou. If the two teams of four do reunite due to lack of evidence on the hike in, they will spread out in 2-person teams and cover the major valleys. They will be fully equipped and ready to go up on the mountain if signs point there.
• On December 22, 2006, China Daily, the government English language news service issued an article about a possible sighting of Fowler and Boskoff on December 10, 2006.
- The witness said “the foreign man looked like an actor in an American film that I watched recently, so I remembered his face.”
- The Field Coordinator in Chengdu and the Sichuan Mountaineering Association (SMA) are investigating further.
• On December 22, 2006, online donations to the Fowler-Boskoff Search Fund were set up through www.mountainfund.org. The Mountain Fund is an Albuquerque-based non-profit whose mission is to develop the capacity of grassroots efforts in the world’s mountainous regions. Once in the site, click on the Click & Pledge “Donate Now” button (bottom left).
• On December 24, 2006, the Field Coordinator reported:
- A call from the Consulate revealed that on November 11, 2006 (China time), a driver took Fowler and Boskoff from Litang to a town called Lamaya (in the Genyen region, about a 4-hour drive west from Litang). Fowler and Boskoff stayed at the driver’s house in Litang, explaining the lack of hotel or hostel records. They also left behind some luggage.
- The U.S. Consulate is attempting to gain permission for members of the Litang Team to gain custody of the locked bags. Once this has been accomplished, the bags will be opened and an equipment inventory will be made. The Field Team hopes to ascertain whether Fowler and Boskoff were actually planning on climbing.
- There are two possibilities as to what was arranged with the driver:Fowler and Boskoff were to call him around November 24, 2006 for a ride presumably from Lamaya back to Litang but the driver was never called, OR Fowler and Boskoff pre-arranged to be collected by the driver on November 24, 2006, but when he went to collect them they were not there.
- The local police, the Public Security Bureau (PSB), have not yet divulged the driver’s contact information to the Field Team in Litang, nor have they given them permission to open the locked bags, stating that they cannot do so at the moment as they have no proof that the Field Team is authorized to handle the evidence. The Consulate has written a letter stating that the Field Team is there on behalf of the families.
- Later in the day, the luggage handover and inspection was officially scheduled.
• On December 24, 2006, the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China, reported that the luggage left behind was opened as scheduled. Present were the Litang PSB and Foreign Affairs Office, and some members of the Field Team. The results:
- Fowler and Boskoff took all of their climbing gear with them. The bags and the remaining contents weigh around 15 kg and 25 kg.
- The most recent entry in Boskoff’s diary was November 8, 2006. It confirmed that they were planning to head for Genyen Peak.
• On December 24, 2006, the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China, also reported that the local officials are taking the search very seriously and making a lot of resources available, including the over 300 PSB officers that have been involved in the search so far.
• On December 24, 2006, the driver who took Fowler and Boskoff to Lamaya was interviewed by the same group that opened the bags. Questioning was focused on where he dropped them off, whether there were other locals involved, and whether they had said anything further about their plans. Because they took most of their gear, it is possible they would have tried to rent pack animals or hire porters. According to the driver:
- Fowler and Boskoff did look into renting a horse but they could not agree on a price. They set off each carrying a large pack on their backs and a smaller one in front.
- If they could not get a ride around November 24, they would call from Zhangna, a town south of Lamaya.
- Lastly, Fowler and Boskoff were in good health.
• On December 24, 2006, same group above plus the driver will leave for Litang and will overnight in Lamaya. They search team will hit the trail tomorrow morning. Medical and ambulance services are on stand-by in Litang. Good luck to all and to all a good night.
• On December 26, 2006, the Field Coordinator in Chengdu reported that the Field Search Teams visited the Genyen Monastery and confirmed that Fowler and Boskoff stopped in on November 12, 2006. The Genyen monks are certain of the date because of a festival that occurred that day. They also confirmed that Fowler and Boskoff camped a few minutes from the monastery that night. They told the monks that they planned to travel north of the monastery and probably return for a visit in 4 days. The monks said they had not seen any people go north of the monastery since Fowler and Boskoff’s visit. They also reported that it had snowed 3-5cm during the festival, and continued to snow thru November 14, 2006 for a total of 23cm. The search is now concentrated on the two mountains to the north of Genyen monastery. One is Genyen Peak, the other is a 5807m peak.
• On December 27, 2006, a body, mostly buried in the snow, was spotted at 1:30pm (China time) by a Chinese member of one of the Field Search Teams. The location is at an approximate altitude of 5300m (17,388 feet), 3 hours above Lenggu Monastery in the Genyen Region. The body is currently unidentified and is not confirmed to be either Fowler or Boskoff. Details of the sighting include modern climbing equipment, blue gaitors, and grey boots. The U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China has notified both of the families. It also reported that cooperation by the Chinese authorities has helped immensely to maintain an accelerated effort by all parties involved. The plan now is for additional Field Search Teams to return to the same area to confirm the identity of the body and to look for additional climbers and/or evidence.
On December 28, 2006, the body found on December 27, 2006 was confirmed to be that of Charlie Fowler and for the tie being is being brought down to Lengu Monastery. It appears that the cause is an avalanche. Fowler was not wearing a harness nor was he roped. He was wearing crampons and a large pack, indicating that the intent was to establish a high basecamp. At this point in the search, there is no evidence of Boskoff. The weather in the search area has changed to snow.
• On December 29, 2006, the Field Commander determined that the area where Fowler’s body was found has become too hazardous for the established teams to continue the search for Boskoff. The FBSC concurred, halting the search. The search will resume when conditions stabilize, most likely in the spring.
• On December 29, 2006, the Field Coordinator in Chengdu reported that a “puja” ceremony has been arranged for Fowler and Boskoff at the Lengu Monastery.
• On January 3, 2007, 6:30 - 8:30pm: Osprey Packs will host a fundraiser to aid in the search at the Abbey Theatre in Durango, CO. Local professional photographers Bill Hatcher, Kennan Harvey and Scott Smith will present a sampling of their work. There will be a silent auction with gear from Osprey, Outdoor Research, Prana, and the local outdoor shops. Suggested donation at the door is $10.
• On January 4, 2007, 5:30pm: Mountain Madness will host this event at REI's flagship store in Seattle, WA (222 Yale Ave N) to celebrate the adventurous lives of Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler. The event will also raise funds for the continued recovery effort of Chris. Olympia-based climbing guide Dan Mazur, part of the party that gave up their own ascent to Mount Everest to help a stranded Australian climber, will speak at the event. REI is donating the facilities, and there will be product giveaways donated by National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and area companies to help raise additional funds for the search and recovery effort. Mountain Madness is donating a trip and courses. The general public is invited.
••• Follow-up releases will be issued as information comes in.DONATE TO THE FOWLER-BOSKOFF SEARCH FUND WITH CREDIT CARD
FOLWER-BOSKOFF SEARCH FUND
The Fowler-Boskoff Search Fund
Wells Fargo account number 1736253632
To qualify for a tax-deductible donation, make checks out to Mountainfilm. (Tax ID#: 84-1271056)
In Telluride - Direct Deposit:
Checks can be deposited at the Wells Fargo drop box next to its ATM in the Wintercrown Building breezeway in downtown Telluride or at the Wells Fargo branch in Mountain Village.
Checks should reference the account name and/or number.
In Telluride - Deliver Checks:
Mountainfilm office at 109 East Colorado Avenue (above The Toggery)
Mail Checks to Mountainfilm:
PO Box 1088
Telluride CO 81435
The Fowler-Boskoff Search Fund
Routing Code - 121000248.
The Fine Print:
All donations are non-refundable. Donations to the Fund will initially be used to defray search expenses. Any surplus funds may be used for related purposes in the discretion of the Mountainfilm Board of Directors.
Arlene Burns: 970-708-3793
Daiva Chesonis: 970-729-2210
DONATE TO THE FOWLER-BOSKOFF SEARCH FUND WITH CREDIT CARD