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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Tibet trek turns tragic
Scottish founder Michael Jackson in mountaineering gear
Michael Jackson suits up for the harsh conditions in Tibet
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

Tragedy has touched an expedition by a British businessman to scale K2 and neighbouring mountain Broad Peak.

Last month Scottish entrepreneur Michael Jackson set off on a four-week expedition which was due to include an attempt on the two mountains and see him continue running his web business via satellite while in Tibet and Pakistan.

But the dangers of mountaineering were brought home to the expedition when earlier this month a fellow climber died from mountain sickness.

The trip which was supposed to be an adventure, and a testament to the power of technology to shrink the world, has suddenly turned deadly serious.

Climbing high

In late June Scottish founder Michael Jackson set off on a month long expedition to climb the K2 and Broad Peak mountains in Tibet.

At the same time he was to continue running his Wild Day web business using a satellite link, phone and laptop to stay in touch with his business partners back in Scotland.

The early weeks of the expedition saw Mr Jackson narrowly escape being shot at, arrested and buried in an avalanche. Running the Wild Day web business from Tibet was less fraught, but still saw him have to work out ways to thwart attempts by international fraudsters to cheat money out of the site.

K2 - the world's second highest mountain
K2 - the next target for Mr Jackson and team
The trek from Nanga Parbat to Skardu, the last civilised spot before an attempt on the mountains, was regularly punctuated by vicious sand storms that threatened to destroy computer equiment and turn the trekkers into walking dunes.

Now after a nine-day trek to the Broad Peak base camp the confidence of the expedition has been shaken by a tragedy.

When Mr Jackson's team arrived at the camp they found that a French climber, someone they knew well, had died the previous day from mountain sickness, a swelling of the brain thought to be caused by too swift an ascent to high altitude.

As an experienced climber Mr Jackson said he was aware of the dangers and the possibility of death which before he had seen as a celebration of life. "Now," he said, "when I think of the French climber's parents it seems like so much reckless vanity and boyish nonsense."

Despite the death the team intends to push on with its plan to climb Broad Peak - the 12th highest mountain in the world at over 8,000 metres high lying just south of K2.

Writing while contemplating Broad Peak - "my impassive, potential executioner" - Mr Jackson said he is missing his family and is contemplating praying for his safety during the climb. "Not for my sake, but so that I don't break my Mother's heart," he wrote.

See also:

14 Jun 01 | Sci/Tech
Scot aims for high office
22 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
The dangers of high office
24 Feb 01 | Scotland
Climbers ready to scale heights
01 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
K2 brings rivals together
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