The spare on a six-wheeled vehicle used to reach
remote climbing zonse.
If you’re not familiar with Kyrgyzstan it’s a country that gained its independence from the USSR in 1991. It’s a small mountainous country north and slightly east of Afghanistan. It’s truly in the heart of the Asian continent. In fact it’s further from the sea than any other country in the world and none of it’s rivers reach a sea or ocean.
In recent years Kyrgyzstan has drawn the attention of the climbing community as a region for those seeking uncharted territory and first ascents at high altitude. Of course climbing in a less developed country means half the adventure is the logistics of getting to your base camp. This meant a three day journey from the U.S. by flight and land culminating in a transfer in a 6-wheeled truck to the Terskey Ala-Too region. For Khan Tengri we had to be airlifted in by helicopter. Once in Terskey Ala-Too I met the support team and the other climbers then began the trek to base camp.
|An example of the maps we used to prep for our climbs.|
|Peak 4300m in distance on right side.|
|Peak 4420 - Another First Ascent actual elevation; 4480m.|
- Un-named Peak, (4300m) Snow 50°-70°, III, 300m, (07/2013); first ascent.
- Un-named Peak, (4135m), 5th class, 5.6, III, 200m, (07/2013); found evidence of people at summit.
- Un-named Peak, (4280m), 5th class, 5.8, 3 Pitches, 150m, (07/2013); found evidence of people at summit.
- Un-named Peak, (4420m), Snow 40°-60°, III, 600m, (07/2013); first ascent.
Khan Tengri was a little different experience we were getting more support in our attempt and thus had much more beta going into the climb. The altitudes supplied were still approximate and usually were off but we still had much more route information going into the climb.
|Khan Tengri in back on the left.|
|Khan Tengri with camp locations identified.|
I was able to climb to 5000m but started suffering from mild AMS. At that point I moved to a lower elevation and my condition improved pretty quickly. Unfortunately the weather did not improve. Other members of the team moved to Camp 2 at (5600m), they climbed a nearby peak Csepajer (6120m) and then moved to Camp 3 (5800m). I was anxiously watching their progress and waiting for the weather to improve thinking maybe I could make a move up to join them. However, the weather didn’t improve and the team got pinned down at Camp 3 with endless high winds and meters of snow falling daily all along the route from Base Camp all the way up the mountain.
|The route to Camp 1|
All in all it was an amazing trip. Taking all the skills I’ve developed in recent years, thanks in part to AAI, and putting them into play exploring entirely new routes was a dream come true for me. The weather was challenging and could have been better but that’s the nature of this sport and despite it all I was fortunate to find experienced climbing partners and to get some first ascents under my belt. This was an amazing trip to a remarkable region!
Submitted by: George Thomas
Edited by: Tim Page