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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora