American alpine jornal of kyrgyzstan
Jamantau and Fergana ranges, crossings and
first ascents. On the 5th of July Katya
Ananyeva, Dmitry Martynenko, and I left
Osh, heading to explore the Jamantau and
southern Fergana ranges. Neither place had
any record of previous climbing activity,
even during Soviet time. After a day-long
drive from Osh, we started our trek from the
small village of Jergetal. Hiking from west to east along the northern side of the Jamantau
Range we acclimatized by climbing the snowy peak Chontash East (4,553m, N 40°54'59.64", E
74°25'48.60"), approaching the upper slopes via the small glacier coming through the gate
between rock walls (III, 50–60°, Russian 3A). The bergschrund was still filled with snow.We
tired of waiting for good weather under challenging Mt. Kamasu, but several days later we
climbed rocky Mt. Kremen (4,351m, N 40°54'36.24", E 74°39'17.70") via the broad east ridge.
This day-long route had a single 5.9 crux, with the rest rated 5.5/5.6.We had to belay the first
four pitches up to the crux, and then moved simultaneously, placing pro every 10–20 meters.We
descended along the same east ridge. All the mountains in the Jamantau Range are composed
of good rock with a rough surface. The peaks are in the 4,500–4,800m range, with climbing
starting around 3,700–3,900m. There are lots of small glaciers and smooth ice tongues, providing
numerous moderate (50–75°) routes to the summits from their northern sides.
The northwest view of unclimbed Mt. Kamasu in the Jamantau Range. Dmitry Shapolov
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 301
Climbing one of them took Dmitry half a day. Eight pitches of 60–70° ice, followed by big crevasses,
led two of us to the broad summit of Peak Ak-Jaman (4,488m, N 40°54'24.78", E
74°49'43.20"). One more hour of walking east down the scree slopes, and we were back to our
tent. The southern side of the range doesn’t have glaciers, instead consisting of rock faces and
extensive fields of scree. The name “Jamantau” comes from the great difficulties of crossing
seemingly simple passes. The valleys become narrow and canyon-like in the middle, while their
lower parts are wide, flat, and green, with occasional summer yurts of Kyrgyz, happy to ply anybody
with kumis (fermented mare’s milk) until delirium sets in. After crossing the Jamantau
Range, we found ourselves in the vast expanse of the Arpa Valley.We had to walk south for
50km to reach the Torugart-Too. As it sits near the border between Kyrgyzstan and China, a
special “frontier spirit” makes the local population less friendly to visitors. Even with valid papers
from the Kyrgyz border authorities,we had to argue for two hours with locals to continue farther.
The mountains in the southern part of the Fergana Range consist of brittle schist, producing
large fields of scree and making rockclimbing
out of the question. Luckily,
there are lots of glaciers of different
steepness and size, due to moist air
masses regularly coming from the
west. (We had rain every second day.)
Standing on a crest of the range, one
sees green hills of waist-deep grass on
one side and brown dry desert of the
Arpa Valley on other side. Profuse
vegetation makes an unused trail
soon disappear.We climbed only two
summits here, the first being Peak
4,818m (on the Russian military
map). The climb along the east ridge
was an unroped walk in knee-deep
snow, deposited the day before. We
named the peak Haokan North
(4,848m by GPS, N 40°32'51.84", E
74°37'26.70"). Then we approached
Peak 4,893, which apparently is the
highest in the Fergana Range and,
according to a geographic encyclopedia,
is named Uch-Seit. The glaciers
were big and fat, reminding us of the
Zaalay Range.We set up camp at the
base of the icy north face (4,350m).
There was a bridge over the
bergschrund, then a strip of rocks
that kept us from getting lost in the
fog while we climbed seven pitches of 70° ice alongside it. The upper ridge was not steep, but
crevassed, and I managed to fall through before reaching the corniced summit of Uch-Seit
View to the northwest from the summit of Peak Haokan, after fresh
snowfall. The main crest of the Fergana Range runs from the left.
Unclimbed peak 4,669m in the Torugart-Too, as viewed from the
north. Dmitry Shapolov
(4,905m, N 40°42'26.04", E
74°21'14.10"). After crossing the
Fergana Range by an easy pass
(Russian 1B) to the north of
Uch-Seit, we had to reach wellpopulated
Oital Valley. It took
five days and involved another
two passes, and we built a suspension
rope-traverse over the
Karakulja River and a driftwood
raft to cross Lake Kulun, whose
rocky banks are too steep for
walking. The raft held no more
than two people, so we pulled it
in shifts, with occasional rock
climbing up to 5.7 or swimming in 10°C water where the rocky banks overhung. This 5km took
us a whole day and was the most difficult and scary passage in the entire 26-day, 300km journey.
DMITRY SHAPOVALOV, AAC
THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL, 2008
The central region of the Torugart-Too, as visited by the ISM party in September. Pat Littlejohn
The makeshift raft in which they navigated Lake Kulun for the most harrowing
part of the 26-day, 300km journey. Dmitry Shapolov
Piks Shumkar (4,925m, Falcon),
Helen (4,710m), Bars (4,800m,
Snow Leopard), Pik Kumay (Vulture,
4,830m), first ascents. Time
flies. This was the International
School ofMountaineering (ISM)’s
14th expedition to the Tien
Shan, and it was as great as ever.
This time we visited two virtually
untouched areas, the Torugart-
Too range, right beside the Torugart
Pass into China, and the
Western At Bashi, a very accessible
range little more than a day’s
drive from Kyrgyzstan’s capital
Torugart exceeded all expectations.
On a map of the Tien
Shan the range appears tiny, but it is nearly the size of the Swiss Valais, being 35km from end to
end (and that’s just the glaciated bits, not the “foothills” to either side, which contain many
respectable peaks). The highest mountain in the range, and the glacier beneath it, have the Kyrgyz
name of Mustyr, which means “snow pasture,” a nice insight into the way local herdsmen
perceive the mountains.
Access was easy compared to most previous trips. Base camp was just one hour’s drive
from the main road, and ABC three hour’s walk above this. There were three glaciers we could
reach easily, and plenty of superb objectives to keep us busy. Helen, Max, and I made a first
recce to 5,108m Mustyr.We climbed a long snow/ice couloir for 400m before the altitude made
us gasp a bit and forced a retreat. Next day was poor weather, but while some of us made an
exhausting exploratory trek to the glacier to the east, Vladimir and Leif [all last names supplied
near end of report] explored the next glacier to the west (Teke-Lutor) and climbed a good
peak—Pik Shumkar (4,925m)—the first success of the trip.
Spurred by Vladimir’s enthusiasm for this glacier, Max, Barney, Helen, and I made an
early start next day to climb a neighboring peak, but after two hours climbing to a col, we
looked the ridge above and saw that we had greatly underestimated the difficulties. On the other
side of the col was a rocky peak that looked hard but shorter, so we attempted it instead. After
three difficult pitches we succeeded on Pik Helen (AD+).
Next day two teams set off in different directions: Vladimir, Leif, and Pete to attempt a
peak at the head of Teke-Lutor, and Barney and I for a more serious attempt on Mustyr (Helen
and Max fancying a rest day).However, Pete, who had been feeling under the weather from the
start, took a turn for the worse and retreated to base camp to recover from feverish symptoms.
Vlad and Leif were also turned back after exciting ice climbing, but thanks to lucky route-finding
and snow conditions that were just safe enough, Barney and I emerged exhausted on the
summit of Mustyr at around midday. This was a fantastic peak and among the six best I have
climbed in the Tien Shan over 14 expeditions.
Next day Vlad, Leif, and Helen climbed the big snow peak at the head of Teke-Lutor and
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 303
Mustyr (5,108m), first climbed by Harford and Littlejohn. The central
summit is the highest. Barney Harford
were rewarded with an amazing sight: snow leopard tracks crossing the col! Some of these even
continued to the summit.We have seen snow leopard tracks on just one other expedition. That
settled the name for the first human ascent of the peak: Pik Bars, 4,800m (bars is Kyrgyz for
The priority now was to get down to BC and do something with Pete, who had recovered
somewhat but had now suffered a retinal hemorrhage in one eye, causing a disconcerting blind
spot. Despite this he had explored the glacier above BC and found a possible route up the big
peak at the head of it. So in the morning we persuaded Natasha, our cook, to make a very early
breakfast, and by 6 a.m. Pete,Max, Barney, and I were heading for the peak we later named Pik
Kumay, 4,830m. It was a great effort by Pete. The summit was covered in footprints, which baffled
us until we saw what had made them: a massive vulture!
There were wonderful-looking limestone crags above base camp, and we debated staying
to climb for a day, but the lure of the next area, At Bashi, proved too strong and we were soon
on the road again. [The At Bashi report is below—Ed.]
A list of first ascents in the Torugart-Too made by Max Gough, Helen Griffin, Barney
Harford, Leif Iversen, Vladimir Komissarov, Pat Littlejohn, and Peter Mounsey:
Pik Shumkar (Falcon, 4,925m): northwest flank to north col, ridge to summit, PD,
Pik Helen (4,710m): snow/ice couloir on west side to south col, steep couloir up buttress
to summit, AD+, Gough-Griffin-Harford-Littlejohn.
Mustyr (Peak of the Snow Pasture, 5,108m): long couloir on west side to base of south
ridge of south summit, long traverse north at ca 4,800m to snow/ice, AD, Harford-Littlejohn.
Pik Bars (Snow Leopard, 4,800m): to northeast col from Teke-Lutor Glacier, then
snow/ice slope to easy summit ridge, PD+, Griffin-Komissarov-Littlejohn.
Pik Kumay (Vulture, 4,830m): from Ayutor gain northwest col, then snow ridge to first
rock summit, second (highest) summit gained with more difficulty, PD (first summit), AD+
(second summit), Gough-Harford-Littlejohn-Mounsey.
PAT LITTLEJOHN, Alpine Club
Little Sister (4,206m), Middle Sister (4,341m), Big Sister (4,492m), Zeus (4,747m), Daisy
(4,239m), Snow King (4,580m), first ascents; Rock Dragon (4,597m), attempt. Andy Barret from
the U.K. and I from Cyprus arrived in Kyrgyzstan on September 23, hoping to explore the far
west corner of the Western Kokshaal-Too Range, a region that climbers had not visited. But
when we meet with our logistics provider in Bishkek (ITMC), we learned that there was no way
to know if we would find horses when we reached the end of the 4x4 road, three days’ walk
from the valley we wanted to visit.
We spoke with Vladimir Komissarov, the president the Federation of Alpinism and Rock
Climbing of the Kyrgyz Republic, as well as being president of the Association of the Central
Asia Tour Operators. He had just returned from the first expedition to climb in Torugart-Too,
on the border with China [see Pat Littlejohn’s report, above]. He gave us lots of useful information
about this range.We didn’t want to spend too much of our limited time carrying gear
to base camp, so we changed our plans to Torugart, with its easier approach.
Next morning, armed with an old Russian map (the only map of the area) that we borrowed
from Vladimir, we loaded our powerful Russian 4x4 van with loads of food, gear, and
304 THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL, 2008
vodka, and left the capital with
our good driver Alexander. After
30 minutes of driving we had
our first breakdown, but Alexander
didn’t look worried, repaired
the van in an hour, and had us
on the move again. After three
days and a cocktail of breakdowns,
off-road driving, river
crossings, dust, bad weather, and
a big navigation exercise, we
drove our 4x4 van up to 3,652m
in a big valley on the north side
of the range, with beautiful
views of the Torugart peaks.
The weather was bad the
next day, so we took the opportunity to acclimatize and plan our climbs for the next few days.
Although the range is 35km long, only the glaciers in the center of the range had been explored
by the previous expedition. This left the east and west sides untouched, with lots of unnamed
and unclimbed summits to have a go at. Next morning we woke to a perfect blue sky. We
grabbed our gear and walked up a peak close to BC on the east side of the valley.We went up
the lower west slopes to get on the north ridge, which was a nice snow-covered ridge (up to 40º)
running down from the summit of Peak 4,206m, which we named Little Sister (PD).
Full of energy from our first success, we made an attempt the next day on the north face
of Peak 4,597m, west of BC, but we underestimated the difficulties, and after reaching 4,200m,
turned back, as the climbing was getting harder than what we were ready for.
On October 1 we did a fast traverse of two peaks southeast of base camp. After crossing
the frozen river on the east side of the valley, we climbed the west face of the first one, which
was hard work in deep snow (40º).We reached the end of the north ridge that runs between
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 305
Base camp in the Torugart, with Mustyr on the left and mostly unnamed peaks. Constantinos Andreou
Looking from the west, from left to right: Little Sister (4,206m), Middle
Sister (4,341m), and Big Sister (4,747m), all climbed in October.
Little Sister and this peak.
From this point we climbed
the last rock section to the
4,341m summit of Middle
Sister (AD). Despite clouds
and wind, we then raced
over to the summit of peak
4,467m, Big Sister (AD-).
After a much-needed
rest day, on October 3 we
walked to an unnamed dry
glacier southwest of BC. On
the east side of the glacier
we discovered rocky peaks
with amazing limestone
formations, and at the head
we found a beautiful snowcovered
mountain that was waiting to be climbed.We started up a big 40º–50º gully running
down the north ridge, and then worked our way up rock, snow, and ice, to 50º, to the summit
of 4,747m Peak Zeus (AD). From this summit we had views west and south that unveiled a sea
of unclimbed peaks.
A big storm consumed the next three days. During the storm we spent most of our time
holding up our cheap Chinese tent, using our bodies to stop it from breaking in the strong
winds. On the afternoon of October 6 the weather improved, and Andy left tent-holding duties
to me, while he made a fast ascent of a 4,239m mountain close to camp that he named Daisy (F).
The next day the weather improved, and we went east into a big unnamed valley and then
south into a small valley, with Little Sister and Middle Sister on the west side and Big Sister at
the south end. On the east side was a nice snow peak with a long north ridge.We found a big gully
that took us to 4,000m on the ridge, which we followed to the summit of Snow King, 4,580m
(PD). From the top we had views east into an unnamed valley that was full of superb snow peaks.
On October 8 we made another attempt on the 4,597m peak looming over base camp,
which by now we had named Rock Dragon. This time we attempted the north ridge. A 40º gully
led us to the ridge at 4,100m.We tried to climb the ridge to the summit, but bad limestone got
worse as we moved higher. The climbing was not hard (VD-S), but loose and unprotectable.We
reached 4,300m, before deciding that the remaining ridge was too dangerous.We then said byebye
to the amazing Torugart Range and left for the bars and cuisine of Bishkek.
CONSTANTINOS ANDREOU, Cyprus
Topoz (Yak, 4,600m), Inek (4,560m), first ascents. On the drive from the Torugart-Too [see
Littlejohn report, above] to At Bashi, we visited one of the most important historic sites in Kyrgyzstan:
the Tash Rabat Caravanserai, a fortified “castle” high in the mountains. I was surprised
to discover that it is located beside the most spectacular cliffs (up to 400m) I have yet seen at
The north face of Rock Dragon (4,597m), which was attempted twice, reaching
the 4,300m level on the north ridge. Constantinos Andreou
THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL, 2008
lower altitudes in Kyrgyzstan; one day this will be an important rock climbing destination.
A friend of mine, Andrew Wielochowski, had taken a novice group to climb in the western
At Bashi just before our visit; otherwise there are no records of any mountaineering there.
The peaks are lower, never reaching 5,000m, but the range is extensive, 100km from end to end.
Our approach lay up a valley called Orto Kaindy, where Andrew had spotted an amazing “Matterhorn-
like” peak that was too difficult for his team to attempt.We hired horses to get our gear
up to a beautiful advanced base camp on a pasture below the glacier, overlooked by the
awesome bulk of Topoz (the “Matterhorn”). A herd of semi-wild horses grazed around our
camp, to complete this perfect cameo of mountaineering in Kyrgyzstan.
Our first attempt on Topoz was an exciting traverse over pinnacles on the south ridge, but
we arrived at the summit dome too late in the day to attempt it. The following day a mysterious
wind sprang up, building to gale force at times and threatening the tents, though all the
time the sky remained clear. After 36 hours the wind simply died away. This meant we could
make another attempt, this time via the west flank of the peak, which proved faster and got us
to the summit dome by 11:30 a.m. An hour of rock climbing, and we were on top, gazing out
at endless unclimbed summits receding into the distance to east and west, promising great
On our last day at ABC Vlad and Leif climbed a nice little peak next to Topoz (Inek,
4,560m), while the rest of us read books in the sun, and then it was back to Naryn for sauna,
feasting, and folk music.
First ascents in the At Bashi (2007) by Max Gough, Helen Griffin, Barney Harford, Leif
Iversen, Vladimir Komissarov, Pat Littlejohn, and Peter Mounsey:
Topoz (Yak, 4,600m): south ridge to summit dome (traversing towers), then south face
of summit dome, or summit dome by west flank and couloir, AD+ by south ridge, AD by west
Inek (4,560m): glacier ascent to Mamalik Pass, east scree and rock ridge to summit, PD,
PAT LITTLEJOHN, Alpine Club
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 307
Topozt (4,600m), the “Matterhorn” of the Orto Kaindy Valley in the At Bashi, climbed by Gough-Harford-Littlejohn.
AK SAI – ALA ARCHA
Pik Box (4,242m), central buttress of east face, new
route. Pik Box is popular for climbing. There are two
classic routes: 4A on the northern wall (Aytbaeva,
1956), and 5B “The Balloon” (Mikhaylov, 1997) on the
left side of the northern wall. In 15 hours of non-stop
climbing, Vitalius Chepelenko and I ascended a new
route on the eastern wall on September 16, proposed a
difficulty rating of 4B. The vertical gain is 700m, and
the length of the climb is 1,300m.
IVAN PUGACHEV, Kyrgyzstan, adapted from
Kizil Asker, southeast face, new route.Mikhail Mikhailov, Alexander Ruchkin, and I began climbing
on September 5 and finished our two-day descent from the summit on September 14.We
climbed in alpine style and mostly free, though we used aid on the overhanging sections. The
wall itself consists of three bulwarks. The lowest is the simplest, with a grade of about 5A/5B.
We climbed an ice couloir with no places to put a tent and had to chop into the ice to make a
bivouac ledge. The second bulwark overhangs, with an average steepness of about 93 degrees.
Between the second and the third bulwarks, instead of the expected nice ledge, we came across
an ice “knife.” The top of the wall—vertical monolithic granite—cannot be climbed directly.
The average steepness of the route was 70–75º.We rated the 1,500m, 30-pitch route Russian 6B.
The descent slope was dangerous from avalanches. To belay or rappel, we dug pits and fixed our
ropes from buried sacks.
Overall, we were lucky with the weather.We had two or three days of comparatively bad
weather and one whole day of sitting in camp, but otherwise it was fine. It was very cold at
night.When it thawed in the mornings and in the afternoons, ice balls flew down. The rock on
this wall is monolithic, with no loose stones.
The peaks here are wonderfully compact. In one tight area there are 8–10 mountains
higher than 5,000m, and only one has a name—Kizil Asker. There are routes for all tastes:
Himalayan, alpine, snow, ice, rock. However, the summer season is short--from the middle of
August to the end of September, only 1.5 months. Before this the weather is unstable; two days
of good weather in a row are nearly unheard of. Another feature of the region is its difficulty of
access when the roads become impassable. The upper part of the valley is covered with grass
growing on loam; when it gets wet, you cannot move except by helicopter.
ALEXANDER ODINTSOV, Russia; adapted from
THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL, 2008
The new Chepelenko-Pugachev Route on the
east face of Pik Box. Ivan Pugachev
Malitskovo Glacier; Pik 5,055m, Pik 4,975m, first
ascents; Pik 4,995m, attempt. After a two-day
drive from Bishkek into the Kokshaal region,
Dave Swinburne and I were dropped off on July
20, having arranged to be collected at the same
point on August 8. During this time we made
two ascents of new peaks at the head of the
Malitskovo Glacier. The peaks are marked
5,055m and 4,975m on the American Alpine
Club’s Kyrgyzstan map, but our GPS recorded
5,061m and 5,100m, respectively. Both peaks
provided simple ascents of PD in grade. We
found more interesting AD climbing during an
attempt upon Pik 4,995m. The final summit
ridge held unstable slush-like snow, and we
found it unsafe to continue. We then spent
several days on the adjacent Nalivkin Glacier.
Several inches of fresh snow and daily squalls
prevented further attempts.
Night temperatures rarely fell below
freezing. With lots of sun, this made for poor
snow conditions.We advise that a later period
would be better for climbing in this area. This is
supported by other trip reports, but we were governed
by our work holidays.
STEWART HOWARD, U.K.
Nalivkin Glacier, Malitskovo Glacier; Pik 4,828m
(Sigma Peak), first ascent; Piks 5,055m (Hidden Peak),
4,975m (Snow Dome), new routes; other ascents. We
chose the western Kokshaal Too region for its potential
for first ascents. Also called “The Forbidden Range,”
this was a closed military region until the late 1990s,
when the first western expeditions arrived. It is still
under military control, and permission to access the
area has to be obtained from the military. Consequently,
very few expeditions have visited this place,
and many peaks remain unclimbed.We were given a
map by ITMC, indicating climbed and unclimbed
peaks in the area we intended to visit.
We drove with two vehicles, a 6-wheel drive bus
and a smaller truck, from Bishkek via Naryn to the
western Kokshaal Too Range. The trucks brought us to the slopes north of the Aytali River,
opposite the Nalivkin Glacier, where we set up base camp next to a 3,860m lake.
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 309
Kizil Asker’s great southeast face, showing the line of
its new route by Mikhail Mikhailov, Alexander
Odintsov, and Alexander Ruchkin. Several attempts
have been made on the spectacular ice couloir on the
left [p. 349, AAJ 2003]. Alexander Ruchkin
Camp on the Kizil Asker “knife,” where the
team had expected to find good ledges.
Patrick Black, Robert Cromarty,
Linda Daffue, Willem Daffue, Greg
Devine, Carl Fatti, Donovan van
Graan, Dean van der Merwe, and I
split into three groups, each exploring
a different valley and assessing
climbing possibilities there.
Patrick, Dean, Robert, and I
went up the Nalivkin Glacier to look
at Pik 5,055m, an apparently unclimbed
peak high in the valley. We
identified two possible routes, one
over the west ridge and summit of
4,968m and the other via easy snow
slopes leading from the west to the
col between 4,968m and 5,055m. On
August 14 Patrick and I climbed over
the summit of 4,968m to the summit
of 5,055m (Hidden Peak). Dean and
Robert chose the other route.
Willem, Linda, and Donovan
went into the Malitskovo Glacier
basin. They came back confident that
both 4,828m and 4,975m could be
climbed and possibly 4,996m as
well—all unclimbed peaks. On
August 14 Willem, Linda, Donovan,
and Carl climbed 4,828m (Sigma
Peak). The point marked 4,975m
turned out to be just a mark on the
map. The summit lies south of this
mark. On August 26 the same group
summited this peak (Snow Dome)
and measured its height as 5,105m by
GPS. After a second reconnaissance
to 4,996m we discarded our plans to
climb it. There was not enough snow
coverage to allow reasonable access,
and the ascent seemed to involve
some hectic rock climbing.
The third group, consisting of Carl and Greg, reported that the Fersmana and Sarychat
glaciers had retreated far to the south, and the lower valleys were framed by sheer rock cliffs with
no reasonable access to the summits.
Toward the end of the expedition Patrick and I walked far eastward, past the confluence
of the Aytali and Sarychat rivers, in hope of being able to climb what we called “The Coloss,” a
The Fersmana and Malitskovo glaciers from the northern slopes of
the Aytali Valley, more or less where the South African team
parked their trucks. Donovan van Graan
Looking from Pik 4,968m to Pik 5,611m, with Byeliy, a.k.a. Grand
Poobah behind.. Ulrike Kiefer
The view from Pik 5,055m (Hidden Peak) to Pik 4,975m (Snow
Dome). Ulrike Kiefer
310 THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL, 2008
massive cluster of peaks 4,671m,
4,879m, and 4,849m high, but
we didn’t have time. However,
an ascent by the northeast ridge
seems quite possible.
The following peaks were
also climbed by the team:
5,156m, Obzhorniy, by Ulrike
and Patrick via the northeast
ridge; 5,156m, Obzhorniy, by
Dean, Robert, Willem, Linda,
Carl, and Donovan via the glacier
and snow slopes to the north;
4,850m, Metel, by Greg, Dean,
Robert,Willem, Linda, Carl, and
Donovan; 4,656m, Peak Macciato, by Dean; and 4,578m, by Dean.
River crossings were major obstacles, especially in the afternoon. It was not easy to find
a safe passage at times, and we had to help each other across. The weather, though, was kind;
bad weather spells only lasted for only short times. The snow was firm and enjoyable early in
the day and turned soft only after 11 a.m.We encountered deep, soft snow only on Snow Dome.
The mountain slopes are littered with ibex and Marco Polo sheep horns.We were privileged
to watch ibex a number of times. We also saw eagles, lammergeyers, hundreds of
marmots, and tracks of what we believe to be a wolf.
Happy with our achievements, we returned to Bishkek on the 25th.We left records of our
ascents with ITMC, whose president is also president of the Kyrgyz alpine club. Later we learned
of the British party [Stewart Howard and Dave Swinburne, above] who had been to the area
just before us. They reported having climbed 4,975m (5,105m) and 5,055m, both from the Malitskovo
Glacier. Thus, two of our “first ascents” turned out not to be such. Still, our two routes
up 5,055m are new routes, approaching the mountain from a different valley. This discovery
came as quite a shock. [Howard and Swinburne had returned just days before Kiefer’s group
left, and they had not yet sent their report to ITMC when Kiefer returned—Ed.] May this serve
as a warning to others who are planning to scale an unclimbed mountain: Not even the best
local information is necessarily correct.May this also serve as a reminder to pass on climbing
achievements to local authorities, so they can keep the record straight.
ULRIKE KIEFER, South Africa
Central Kokshaal-Too, history prior to 2007. With the eastern (Dankova) and western (Kizil
Asker) sectors of the Western Kokshaal-too having now been explored by a number of non-CIS
climbing parties (beginning with a French-German team to the Dankova region in 1996 and
an Anglo-American-German party to the Kizil Asker area in 1997), several recent teams have
been investigating the little known central section. Exploration of this compact area of dramatic
peaks along the Kyrgyzstan-China border has been dominated by Pat Littlejohn and his International
School of Mountaineering (ISM) expeditions. In 2001 a splinter group from one of
Littlejohn’s expeditions traveled east to the valley leading up to the Malitskovo Glacier and
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 311
Pik 5,156m (Obzhorniy) at sunrise. Ulrike Kiefer
climbed a 4,850m peak east of the entrance. Littlejohn was back in 2006, establishing a base
camp below the Navlikin Glacier to the east, from where he hoped to attempt the first ascent of
Pik Byeliy (Grand Poohbah, 5,697m). Byeliy has only seen one serious attempt. In 2000 Jerry
Dodrill,Mike Libecki, and Doug and Jed Workman traveled to the Chinese side of the range
and climbed 600m up the southwest ridge before being stopped by a lightning storm close to
the summit. In 2005 the New Zealand-based team of Paul Knott, Grant Piper, and Graham
Rowbotham hoped to climb it from the Fersmana Glacier east of the Malitskovo, but could see
no safe lines on the northeast, east, or southern flanks. In 2006 Littlejohn’s team tried to reach
unclimbed Pik 5,611m, immediately north of Byeliy, but were stopped by heavy snowfall.Other
members climbed peaks lower down the Malitskovo and made attempts on Piks 4,995m
and 4,975m. On 4,995m they reached a forepeak but were stopped by the dangerously corniced
connecting ridge, while on 4,975m they were turned back at ca 4,900m by the threat
September is generally considered the best month to climb in this area due to more stable
weather, lower temperatures, and firmer snow conditions.Howard and Swinburne, judging by
their own experiences, would also advocate September as the best time to visit the range.
LINDSAY GRIFFIN,Mountain INFO, www.climbmagazine.com
Pik 150th Anniversary of the British Alpine Club (4,836m), and four other first ascents; ski-mountaineering.
In 2006 I was asked to organize a ski-mountaineering expedition as part of the celebrations
of the 150th anniversary of the Alpine Club planned for 2007. In 2003 and 2006 I
visited the Ak-Shirak Range in the Central Tien Shan and saw that there was plenty of scope for
more exploratory mountaineering. Accordingly, on April 7, 2007 five Alpine Club members set
THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL, 2008
Ascending the Petrov Glacier on the way to “Pic 150th Anniversary of the British Alpine Club,” with unclimbed
peaks in view. Dave Wynne-Jones
out for three weeks in Kyrgyzstan: Stuart Gallagher, Gethin Howells, Adele Long, Gordon
Nuttall, and I.
As we approached the Kumtor gold mine, however, I saw that conditions were hugely different
from what I’d found in 2003. Though early in April, the road was clear, as were most of
the slopes below 3,800m. Fortunately, Lake Petrov was still frozen solid, so 40 minutes and 2km
after setting foot on the ice, we were setting up Camp 1 on a sandy beach beneath the snout of
the Petrov Glacier. Camped at 3,730m, we had gained 2,000m in a five-hour drive; headaches
The next day we struggled up the convoluted glacier to leave a cache, and a day after, on
a scout of the glacier, the snow cracked like a pistol as it settled in huge plates beneath us. Camp
2, almost 4,300m, had more stable snow conditions. The next day we mostly skied and occasionally
climbed in crampons to a summit at 4,836m. Our first first ascent had to be named
“Pik 150th Anniversary of the British Alpine Club” in the fine tradition of Soviet peak names.
We then enjoyed carving turns all the way to the foot of the pass.
Our next peak was to the east and surprised us with fresh snow leopard tracks as we
climbed up under its southwest face. Ice glinted under the snow, so we abandoned plans to skin
up the face and left our skis at an ice boss on the west ridge. Trying to sneak past the ice boss,
we found wind-polished armor plating, and we roped up for a short pitch. Higher, we roped
again for more ice to the corniced summit at 4,887m. We called it Pik Ak Ilbirs (meaning
“snow leopard” in Kyrgyz).
Over the next couple of days we headed east again to climb two more peaks from the pass
at the head of the glacier. One was an icy whaleback rising to a narrow fin of snow and rock at
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 313
Enjoying fine views from Pik 150th Anniversary of the British Alpine Club (4,836m) in the Ak-Shirak. Dave
the 4,720m summit (Pik Plavnik, or The Fin) from which we could see Khan Tengri and Pobedy
looming majestically in the distance. The other was a heavily corniced ridge that dropped off
steeply to the north, 4,815m, Pik Solidarnost (because it was the only one that we all got up).
From there it was clear that our proposed route, linking several glacier systems, would take us
far too low for safety in the prevailing conditions.We decided to break camp and head for the
north-facing glacier bays to the south.
However, as we lost height snow conditions became increasingly difficult.We made heavy
going of the descent and were lucky to find a good campsite on a medial moraine. Next day,
while making an early crossing of the glacier to the south in an attempt on the peak opposite,
we found the snow repeatedly collapsing under us with a resounding whump. A serac collapse
from the flank of the mountain and plenty of evidence of avalanches from adjacent slopes led
us to back off, instead climbing nervously but gradually up to scout the major pass to the east.
That night we talked it through and decided we’d pushed our luck with avalanches far enough.
The next day only Gethin reached our final summit, a rocky peak east of camp: Pik Mari
(named after his mum).
After what had clearly been an exceptionally warm winter, we decided we’d just have to
be satisfied with our five first ascents. I called in our transport on the sat-phone for two days
hence, and we spent those days getting back down the glacier and across the lake. The mountains,
of course, went on looking spectacularly beautiful, and it’s clear that there is a lot more
ski-mountaineering to do in the Ak-Shirak. Thanks are due to the team for their determination
and good fellowship, and to the Mount Everest Foundation and Alpine Club Climbing Fund
for financial support.
DAVEWYNNE-JONES, Alpine Club
Temasek (4,374m), Singapura I
(4,589m/4,550m), Ong Teng
Cheong (4,743m), first ascents.
The MacCoffee Tien Shan
Expedition departed Singapore
on July 20, 2005. [This
report was filed two years late
due to the expedition’s exclusive
Ed.] We were soon inserted by
helicopter onto the Siemienova
Glacier at 3,943m. On July 24
we climbed our first peak,
4,374m, via the snowy southeast
ridge. The peak lies on the Sigitova ridge, though it is not marked on our map (42º19.42'
N 80º3.589' E).We named it Temasek Peak.We believe this is the first virgin peak to be climbed
by any Southeast Asian climbers, and we named it after the first name our Singapore island
nation was known by, Temasek. The route: Ramses Ridge (Russian 3A/French PD). On July 26
THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL, 2008
Singapura I Peak (4,589m by GPS, 4,550m on the map) showing Rozani’s
Route. David Lim
we climbed our second peak,
4,589m (by GPS), marked as 4,550m
on our map, by the north face, after
negotiating hidden crevasse fields
and deep snow. The hardest part
was the steep upper section at 55º,
where Rozani executed a good lead
to the corniced summit (42º18.49'
N 80º0.788' E).We named this fairly
tough mountain Singapura I Peak
as it seemed to present the kind of
challenges our nation faces. Rozani’s
Route (Russian 3A/French PD+).
On July 28 we made an abortive
attempt on the steep, rocky east face
of our third peak, 4,743m. This
peak is un-marked on the map, but
listed as an unclimbed summit.
Loose, dangerous rubble forced a
retreat. On July 29 we tried again via
the long Siemienova Glacier and
Siemienova Pass, and then up the
east ridge, reaching the corniced
summit at 10:30 a.m. (42º20.188' N
80º0.1644' E). This 4,743m peak is
the highest in the vicinity, and we
named it Ong Teng Cheong Peak, in
honor of our late President Ong.
Mr. Ong was the Patron of the 1st
Singapore Everest Expedition in
1998, and his support for this
mountaineering quest was invaluable.
We dubbed the route Wilfred’s
Ridge (Russian 3A/French PD). We
called the aborted route from the
east side Rabbit Gully.
DAVID LIM, Singapore
CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS: KYRGYZSTAN 315
Ong Teng Cheong Peak (4,743m), named after the late president
of Singapore. David Lim
Mohd Rozani on the steep face of Singapura I. David Lim