News / Asia

US-Burmese Team Scales What Climbers Claim is Southeast Asia's Highest Peak

FILE - The Himalayan range of mountains, including Mount Everest (center), the world highest peak.
FILE - The Himalayan range of mountains, including Mount Everest (center), the world highest peak.
VOA News
A joint American-Burmese expedition has become the first to summit a mountain peak that the climbers believe is the highest point in southeast Asia: Gamlang Razi in Burma's Kachin State.

But not everyone is ready to revise the record books because Hkakabo Razi has long been believed to be the highest mountain in southeast Asia. Located in Burma’s north, near the Chinese and Indian border, the remote mountain is part of an eastern range of the Himalayas.
 
However, this week a group of American and Burmese climbers became the first to climb the peak of nearby Gamlang Razi, and they say measurements show it is in fact higher.  
 
At a Sept. 23 news conference in Rangoon, the team leader of the joint American-Burmese expedition presented satellite and GPS data showing that Gamlang Razi’s peak is 5,870 meters above sea level.
 
"And we welcome any sort of independent review. I hope this is a discussion topic," said Andy Tyson. "I think the hardest part of understanding the question of height is people have accepted for a long time the height of Hkakabo as the highest peak in Myanmar, and the height at 5,881. And because we came back with a number that says the height is 5,870, then it must be the second highest peak, because it's a lower number."
 
The problem lies with Hkakabo Razi’s stated elevation of 5,881 meters, which some doubt even though it has long been recognized by the Burmese government as the country’s highest peak.  
 
Hkakabo Razi was measured by Japanese climber Takashi Ozaki when he summited in 1996 without using GPS equipment. His measurement confirmed a number that was initially published in a 1925 survey conducted by colonial Britain.

In recent years, however, surveyors have determined that figure may be overstating the peak’s elevation by as much as 100 meters.
 
The Burmese-American expedition summited nearby Gamlang Razi on Sept. 7 and used a handheld GPS device to measure the peak’s elevation. It confirmed satellite data that estimated the height at 5,870 meters, as well as Russian and Chinese maps that show Gamlang Razi as a taller mountain than Hkakabo Razi.
 
But there are still holdouts in Burma. Some say the debate may not be over until someone summits Hkakabo Razi again and makes a measurement in person.
 
President Thein Sein indicated he is yet to be convinced. In an official letter of appreciation given to the expedition, he congratulated the team on having summited the country's second highest peak.  
 
Even Burmese members of the expedition are hesitant to say they climbed the country’s tallest peak. Pyae Phyo, the only Burmese climber in the party that reached the summit, sidesteps questions about which peak is taller. He says he is proud to have summited a virgin peak, and also to have survived an arduous journey and a 600-meter fall without injury.
 
The expedition passed through remote areas that included some of Burma's last pygmy villages, as well as the habitats of endangered wildlife. Summit team member Eric Daft recorded footage for a documentary about the expedition, scheduled for release later this year.
 
The expedition was funded by the Htoo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Htoo conglomerate owned by Burmese businessman Tay Za. He is said to be one of the richest people in Burma, through his ties to the former military government, which also earned him a mention in the U.S. sanctions against the country's former military rulers.

Htoo owns large properties in Burma's Kachin State, including a luxury mountain lodge in Putao, near the four tallest peaks in southeast Asia. Htoo Foundation says its aim is to develop sustainable tourism in the area.
 
Tay Za is planning to send a Burmese team to Mt. Everest next year, to try to reach the summit of the world's highest peak in 2014.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Steve Davis from: Seattle, WA
September 28, 2013 10:07 PM
The American summit team did not take any economic or political positions. It did not attack or defend Htoo Foundation or U Tay Za, other than to thank them for their sponsorship and hospitality. The ethics of sponsorship is of course an important topic. I believe that when the full story of this expedition emerges, the issues will not appear to be as black-and-white as the respected mountaineer Jim Wickwire represents here.
In Response

by: kyawthulatt from: yangon
October 01, 2013 7:09 AM
Giving comments have two types only,either positive or negative.Should you wish to give comments,you should first check with your American Fellows who had just come back from Mount Gamlang Razi Expedition.You should read thoroughly on how U TAY ZA Htoo Foundation Group are doing Humanitarian jobs throughout the country,Before you give any comments.Steve Davis-by your blind comments your are showing off your background.
In Response

by: kyawthulatt from: yangon
September 30, 2013 4:47 AM
Giving comments have two types only,either positive or negative.Should you wish to give comments,you should first check with your American mountaineer Fellows who had just come back from Mount Gamlang Razi Expedition.You should read thoroughly on how U TAY ZA HTOO FOUNDATION Group are doing humanitarian jobs throughout the country,before you give any comments.Steve Davis -by your blind comments your are showing off your background.

by: Jim Wickwire from: Seattle, Washington
September 27, 2013 7:46 PM
This expedition was funded by a notorious crony who has bought up huge tracks of virgin hardwood forests for logging and other precious indigenous lands for gold mining. Tay Za and his Htoo Foundation are doing all they can to hide atrocities committed in Putao District by the Burmese Army. Hundreds of civilians have been displaced in Putao's Machyangbaw township and are living in dire conditions.

I will not support mountaineering sponsored by shady characters with dishonorable practices towards his own people.
In Response

by: Nam Era Vet from: USA
September 29, 2013 10:06 AM
One of the problems with Internet comments is that they almost never seem to be documented. Anyone can say anything, as opposed to what you would see in a respectable journal like "Science" where footnotes document everything.
In addition to a lack of documentation, Wickwire's comments are full of loaded terms like "notorious crony," "precious," "atrocities," "dire," "shady," and "dishonorable." That's a lot for just six lines. Of course, he is an attorney.
By the way, there are many accounts of his climbs, and his reputation among the little people who carry loads on his lavish expeditions, or wind up stuck on mountains with him, isn't exactly sterling. Specifically, see some of the many accounts of his climbs on K2 in the Karakoram range.
In Response

by: Ye` Htet Aung from: Myanmar
September 28, 2013 8:19 AM
U Tay Za and Htoo Foundation were donated many things , for their school , Monetary and Church , all along the village. Take care medicine for the villagers too. If you want to say your opinion please first listen to American team members Andy Tyson Molly Tyson Eric Daft Mark Fisher , what are they talking about U Tay Za and Htoo Foundation.
In Response

by: Aung Zeya from: Yagon
September 28, 2013 7:45 AM
Mr Wickwire, you are entitled to your own opinion and do as you may and not support in causes that you are not satisfied and pleased. But don't abuse your right to your own opinion by pouring dirt and libelous remarks on fellow human beings especially notable public figures before you have evidence and facts to justify your tarnishing insults. As regard to your claim of dishonorable practices and atrocities, why don't you consult your fellow Americans who were part of the friendship team on Expedition to Gamlang Razi to get second opinion in addition to your current sources. I believe it shouldn't be too hard for you to get in touch with fellow American and fellow climbers who reached the summit of Mount Gamlang Razi.
In Response

by: Nyo Tun from: USA
September 27, 2013 11:06 PM
Totally agree. With the help of generals, especially Chit Swe, he wiped out the most of the rain forest including the ones carefully cultivated by our forefathers.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs