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China Official Says Climbers’ Hopes Dim

December 19, 2006

BEIJING (AP) _ There is only a ``slim″ chance that two Colorado climbers missing since November are still alive in a region of 20,000-foot peaks in China’s southwest, an official said Tuesday.

Christine Boskoff, a top female climber, and Charlie Fowler, a well-known climber, guide and photographer, were reported missing after they failed to return to the United States on Dec. 4.

Their last known contact was a Nov. 8 e-mail sent after they returned from the North Face of the previously unclimbed 19,094-foot Haizi Mountain, also known as Yala Peak, in Sichuan province.

``We are still searching,″ said Gao Min of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association. ``Personally, I think their chance of survival is slim. We have done our best to search for them.″

Yang Shitao, an official with the Foreign Exchange Department of the China Mountaineering Association, said the search was complicated by the fact that the two did not inform the association of their climbing plans.

``So we have no idea which routes they took,″ Yang said.

Boskoff has ascended six of the world’s peaks over 26,000 feet, including Mount Everest. She owns Mountain Madness, a Seattle adventure travel company.

Fowler is an expert on climbing in southwestern China. He has guided climbers up Everest and climbed some of the tallest and most difficult peaks. Both he and Boskoff are from Norwood, Colo.

A Web site set up to raise funds for the search said they were presumed to be either on a remote mountain near the town of Dequen in Yunnan province or near the towns of Litang and Batang in Sichuan province.

``I’m having a great time and love the country, mountains and people here,″ Boskoff said in an e-mail on Nov. 7 to the Mountain Madness office.

A day later in her last e-mail, Boskoff wrote: ``We’ll be leaving tomorrow and we’ll be back in Internet contact in two weeks.″

Authorities have found no evidence the pair ever made it to peaks in another part of China that they talked about exploring in their last e-mails.

___

On the Net:

Searchers’ blog: http://fowlerboskoff.blogspot.com/

Charlie Fowler: http://www.charliefowler.com

Mountain Madness: http://www.mountainmadness.com/

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