Charlie Fowler Missing in Tibet


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Trad climber
Upstate NY
Dec 22, 2006 - 03:32pm PT
On the New York Times website today:

Search for U.S. Climbers Narrows in China

Published: December 22, 2006

BEIJING, Dec. 22 — Rescuers looking for two missing American mountain climbers in a vast and isolated section of southwestern China are concentrating on two specific mountains after getting a tip from a woman who met the pair shortly before they disappeared.

Ted Callahan, an American climber involved in the rescue effort in China, said today that search teams would begin exploring mountains in Sichuan Province on Saturday near the cities of Litang and Batang. The missing climbers, Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler, were last heard from on Nov. 8.

Mr. Callahan said searchers would initially concentrate on base camp areas beneath each of the mountains, adding that the pair’s best scenario for survival is if they are somehow stranded in a village or in a nomad camp in a valley below either mountain.

“The hope is that we’ll find traces of them in a base camp,” said Mr. Callahan, who was reached on his mobile phone today as he arrived in Litang. “That’s the great hope right now — that they are stuck in some nomad camp.”

Mr. Callahan said clues in e-mails from Ms. Boskoff and Mr. Fowler have convinced searchers that the pair intended either to climb Genyen Mountain outside Litang or a string of interconnected peaks near Batang. He said he and other searchers would begin exploring Genyen on Saturday. Another team would be organized for the effort in Batang.

Mr. Fowler and Ms. Boskoff are considered elite, world-class climbers, and the search has become an international effort coordinated, in part, out of the United States. Friends and fellow mountain climbers are accepting donations to help finance search efforts in China. Mr. Callahan said four teams of Chinese and American climbers, as well as ethnic Tibetan guides, are being organized.

Asked if the chances are slim of finding the two climbers alive, Mr. Callahan said Mr. Fowler had once survived a mishap in Tibet that forced him to crawl for several days until he reached safety. He lost his toes in the incident but survived to climb again.

“He’s just known as being exceptionally tough,” said Mr. Callahan, attributing the same qualities to Ms. Boskoff.

Both climbers are based in Colorado, and Ms. Boskoff is also an owner of Mountain Madness, an adventure mountaineering company in Seattle. She had apparently led an expedition and then joined Mr. Fowler in October for a vacation in which they hoped to record a “first ascent’’ on certain unclimbed peaks in southwestern China.

But in e-mails to friends, the pair did not specify which mountains they were trying to climb. The lack of specifics has plagued search efforts because the two had been traveling through a mountain region spread across Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan Province. The pair also did not apply for a required climbing permit, which might have helped locate them.

In recent days, though, new information has been unearthed, in part because of attention generated by widespread media coverage in southwestern China and the announcement of a $4,000 reward. Gao Min, leader of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association, said several sightings have been reported, some proving unfounded while others are being investigated. Mr. Gao said searchers are following up one tip about two trekkers spotted outside Litang.

Meanwhile, Mr. Callahan said an important breakthrough came from a Chinese tourist who met the two climbers on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 at a hotel in the city of Yading. They told her they planned to climb a final peak in Sichuan before returning to the United States. That information has helped focus the search on Sichuan, though Mr. Callahan said the police are also targeting a small region of Tibet along the Sichuan border.

One other clue, meanwhile, was discovered by Chinese search teams that canvassed the city of Litang and found that Ms. Boskoff and Mr. Fowler had signed a local guestbook on Nov. 9.

“Great food and people, enjoyed the food,” they wrote. “The mountains around Yading are awesome. Countryside reminds us of home. We’ll be back.”

right here, right now
Dec 23, 2006 - 02:49am PT
Yes, these two have the stuff in 'em to make really interesting old folks, with a wealth of rich mountain experiences to be cherished in those later years.

I hope it happens for them.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 23, 2006 - 10:17am PT

The CNN crew is so sick that they plan to leave.

The searchers have found a very solid lead, unfortunately for now the details are not for public consumption due to pending political negotiations. Before the chinese cooperate they require certain authorizations from our consulate which are in transit as I write this.

Its getting down to crunch time folks. I am hopeful that before day's end I will be able to release promising news.

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
Dec 23, 2006 - 10:53pm PT
Most of our posts are trivial compared to this.
Hope they are well and all ok.
Seems this oughta be bumped front and center..
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 24, 2006 - 12:42am PT
The entry below Charlie and Chris' in the guest book was by two park rangers from Banff named Shauna and Julian.
They may have crossed paths and communicated objectives.

Does anyone know these two?
If so please forward info to Damon.

Trad climber
over yonder en th' holler
Dec 24, 2006 - 10:34am PT
This was in the Atlanta papers (print and online) today:

Godspeed and God bless...

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 24, 2006 - 02:43pm PT

The chinese authorities have been working remarkably smoothly with the rescuers sent from Telluride.
Some 300 chinese PSB have been involved in the canvasing and investigation!

With the needed authorizations obtained the luggage in Latang correctly assumed to be Chris and Charlie's was unlocked at 10:00AM (about 15 hours ago).
Their driver with whom they had left the bags was interviewed.

He had dropped them in Lamaya, a four hour drive away.

At 2:30PM a team was sent there to overnight and then press on following their trail into the mountains. (It will be getting light there soon.)
Reportedly in Lamaya the two of them had declined the expense of a pack horse and had headed out with large backpacks as well as small frontpacks.

Sounds like the rescuers are getting close.

Trad climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Dec 24, 2006 - 03:39pm PT
Awesome. Ron, do you know when the luggage was dropped? Stale or fresh trail?
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 24, 2006 - 07:46pm PT
As stated before, due to political reasons many details are not for public release, sorry.

These are significant finds as the search has become quite focused.

Trad climber
New York, NY
Dec 24, 2006 - 09:34pm PT
These unmentionable details sound like good news, in a situation where the "no news is good news" usually doesn't hold.

I don't know much about these people, except what I'm reading since they have been overdue in communication, but here I am, safe and comfortable at home, and I want to send good wishes to them for their safe returns to their own homes.

Trad climber
Dec 24, 2006 - 11:23pm PT
Good luck to you all. Be safe and everyone come home ok. Merry xmas.


Oakland, CA
Dec 25, 2006 - 02:10am PT
Another article just posted on

China finds climbers' luggage
POSTED: 1:41 a.m. EST, December 25, 2006

BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- Rescuers have found luggage of two missing veteran U.S. climbers in a remote part of southwest China's Sichuan province, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff have not been heard from since November, and did not show up for their return flights home on December 7, the report said.

Ten rescuers found the luggage at the home of a resident in Lamaya while conducting a door-to-door search, Xinhua said.

The town is in a mountainous region close to Tibet, and has no telephones or mobile phone coverage, the report said.

"The villager told the rescuers that the two climbers had hired him as a driver and left the luggage at his home on November 11 for mountain climbing, saying they would be back on Nov. 24," it added.

Xinhua quoted Gao Min, deputy secretary-general of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association, as saying the find would help them focus their search.


Ice climber
Bloomington, IN
Dec 25, 2006 - 09:29am PT
thank you ron for your diligence. thanks to many others for their efforts.


Ain't no flatlander

Dec 25, 2006 - 11:23am PT
Trying to look up this region on Google Earth. Does anyone have the lat and long for Latang? Where is this area relative to Yading (;?
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 25, 2006 - 11:36am PT
I gave it in a previous post (if memory serves, 30 degrees N and 103 E, but double check), but the search is now heading out from Lamaya as it is likely that they were intent upon Genyen.

As they did not have a permit this aspect was previously downplayed, but the chinese authorities have a pretty good idea of what transpired at this point.

Maybe you can find something here:
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 25, 2006 - 01:08pm PT
This area is about as off the grid as one can go. No land lines OR cell.

I'm trying to find out if the lead search team has a satphone.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 25, 2006 - 02:19pm PT

The search team DOES have a satphone, but unfortunately it had run out of minutes.
However, within the past hour Arlene Burns put another 500 minutes on it.
(Thanks Arlene.)
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Dec 25, 2006 - 08:27pm PT
Here is the recent press from CNN


Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 26, 2006 - 11:20am PT
Heard on NPR this morning that the search has been narrowed down to one mountain.

Santa Monica, CA
Dec 26, 2006 - 01:30pm PT,1,3274445.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

There was an article in the L.A. Times this morning.
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