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Author: Nikolay Bandalet, Belarus

The Central Tien-Shan, Mountain Range Western Kokshaal-Too, region of the Peak Kizil-Asker (5842 m)

Brief characteristics of the region

Western Kokshaal-Too is the most southern mountain range in Kyrgyzstan. This range is situated in the Central Tien-Shan between Lake Issik-Kul and desert Takla-Makan, on the boundary between Kyrgyzstan and China. Range Kokshaal-Too borders on the rivers Uzengu-kuush in the north and with the river Kokshaal in the south.

In this region there are situated any summits of about 6000 meters high. The most interesting among them are Peaks Kizil-Asker ( 5842 m), Krilia Sovetov (Wings of Soviets) ( 5800 m), Peak of Shmidt ( 5954 m, has not been conquered yet), Peak Dankova ( 5982 m)m Peak Chon-Turasu or Dzholdash ( 5729 m), Peak Alpinist ( 5641 m), Peak of Sergey Korolev ( 5816 m). Combination of typical alpine forms (there are many vertical rocky walls with elevation changes of about 1.5- 2 km) with giant glaciation, yielding to the glaciation only in the region of the Peak Pobeda in the Tien-Shan, is typical for this region. All the region, including lowlands, is zone of permafrost. Water-logged grounds are often up to altitude 4000 m.

Snow line is located on the altitude of about 4000- 4500 meters above sea-level. Valleys of rivers have altitudes 3000- 3500 meters above sea-level. Climate in the valley is inclement. Average monthly temperature equals about 5-8 degrees above zero in summer, weather is changeable.


History of settling

For ten years I was dreaming about trip to mountains of the range Kokshaal-Too. For our expedition (that took place in August 2007) we chose the region of the Peak Kizil-Asker. I was impressed by the beauty of peaks on the photos of Alexander Ruchkin. On tourist scheme of the region, that we found in the Internet, there was the name if only one summit in the region, to be more exact, it was the Peak Kizil-Asker. All other summits were marked uncertainly, and, it seemed, roughly. We also learnt from the Internet that in the 80-s of the last century in the region of the Peak Kizil-Asker expeditions from Kazakhstan leaded by J. Popenko (team SAVO, 1980), K. Valiev (1985), Iliinsky and Sidelnikov (1989) worked. The team of K. Valiev passed a route to the peak Kizil-Asker 5842 m along the north-western wall. Moreover, in the region of the peak Kizil-Asker several foreign expeditions worked. But we didn&rsquot manage to find more detailed information about those expeditions.

Having learnt on the eve of the year 2007 that the team of Alexander Ruchkin &ldquo Russian Way &ndash World Walls&rdquo was going to the Kizil-Asker, I got in touch with Alexander Ruchkin and Mikhail Mikhailov. But their answer was not comforting. They had some photos of the summits in that region and that was all. There is enough information about the region of the Peak Dankova. It is stated on high-level and with many details on the web-site www.alpclub.ru of alpinists from town Chernogolovka near Moscow. We also used information published in tourist report (leader Novik): http://www.mountain.ru/mkk/biblio/tian-shan/chetiani/vvedtnie.shtml. During our expedition we got their note from the pass &ldquoSolo on Underwood&rdquo.

As we hadn&rsquot found map of the region with named summits, in order to understand each other during the expedition we gave names to some of summits. Some names are relative, as we have not been on all the summits. The members of the expedition made ascents to peaks along easy routes mostly. It seems to me that the region of the Peak Kizil-Asker has been almost blank spot on the alpinistic map and it harbors lots of interesting routes that have never been passed before. The only thing is that there are no very extensive walls with elevation changes of more than 100 meters (from the side of Kyrgyzstan, from the Chinese side there are some, according to material of the expedition of Alexander Odintsov), but, taking into account not very difficult approach &ndash this region can become an interesting alternative for those alpinists who are full of the spirit of adventures and exploring and for those who have not already found enough money to make ascent along unpassed Himalayan, Karakorum, Kunlun walls. And the beauty of Tien-Shan can subdue every not indifferent to the mountains man.



Map of the region of the Kizil-Asker
There are two way of getting to the region we are describing. The first one is to get there by helicopter. This way used the team of Alexander Odintsov &ldquo Russian Way &ndash World Walls&rdquo. One of the optimal variants of placing the base camp is the bank of the lake Bivachnoe. There is only one disadvantage of this way of approach &ndash it is its cost.

The second way of getting to the region, by car, we have chosen. Road to the region is itself worthy of independent deion. It takes two days, with passing a night in town Narin. The road consists of continuous changing of landscapes through three passes and at the end there is road (if it is possible to name this strip so) along the Aksayskaya valley. After settlement Orto-Kashka-Suu (one dwelling house), at the same place frontier post is situated (the region is frontier zone and it is necessary to order permits beforehand), there is way along destroying road along the remains of wire entanglement, remains of telegraph poles and hardly noticeable CTS (control-track stripe) &ndash these are the remains of once great country, Soviet Union.

Range Borkoldoi and plateau Kagaliachap
It is taken to name the space between the ranges Borkoldoi and Kokshaal-Too to the west from the pass Kubergenti and Aksayskie szyrts or hole Kagaliachap. It presents huge, plain like a table surface between the basins of rivers Aksaia and Uzengu-kuush. Aksayskie szyrts presents severe highland desert, elevated for 3500 meters above sea-level: strips of cracked loam alternate with wisps of withered grass. In small depressions there are dried-up lakes, soli is covered with salt. Earlier not far from the place of confluent of Kizil-Unet and Karagermes there was a frontier post, nowadays it is abandoned, there is information that in summer hunter live on the post. (But we didn&rsquot meet them, having visited the remains of the post for interest). The main problem of approach to the region of the Peak Kizil-Asker is waterlogged plateau Kagaliachap.

Somewhere upper the remains pf the frontier post on the map OTF are marked, we turned from the road and started crossing the plateau from the north to the south, in the direction of the lake Bivachnoe. We crossed it, having sent scouts forward, they literary drawn ground. Twisting, often riding along the beds of numerous rivers, wasting several hours for that, our car successfully crossed the plateau but managed to get stick on rising ground. We had to get everything from it and to put it back. Our Base Camp we made near small stream, in about an hour of walking from the lake Bivachnoe on the altitude about 3750 meters. It is also possible in my opinion to get to the lake Bivachnoe by car, but it is necessary to ride along the braches of the river flowing out from the glacier Kizil-Asker. It is necessary to turn from the road somewhere opposite to the big stone �� on the map. But there always is risk of getting stick in the bog. Approach with the help of two cars is counted to be more reliable: the first car pulls tow-line and the second one is always ready to come to the rescue, but again finance question stand appears.


Lake Bivachnoe

Mikhail Mikhailov (Bishkek) told us about the variant of approach to the valley of the glacier of Komarov (source of the river Kizil-Unet) beyond the edge separating glaciers of Komarov and Kizil-Asker. That variant is more reliable concerning passage, but in this case approach to the glacier right Kizil-Asker and especially to the glacier left Kizil-Asker can become noticeably harder and longer.

The region of the Peak Kizil-Asker is geographically far from every dwelling. The nearest dwelling (not counting Chinese settlements) &ndash is the post Orto-Kashka-Suu. (It took us 3 hours to get back to it from the Base camp, as we knew road). There are no herders for many tens of kilometers. From alive creatures there are only animals and birds. Marmots are everywhere, ram Marko Polo can be come across (it doesn&rsquot let you get closer to itself), wolfs howl at nights, and in the sky eagles or griffon-vultures go round (it seems to me that eagle do not get into flocks).



It is counted that optimal time for holding expedition here is the second half of August and the first half of September. As it has been already mentioned, weather is extremely unstable here. During one day it is sometimes possible to come across several seasons: winter, summer, autumn, spring. Moreover there is no any regularity. Rain or wet snow can start in the morning or in the afternoon, or closer to evening. But there also are possible several days of fine weather one after another. The main thing is that when we were in the region there were no long periods of bad weather, maximum &ndash 14 hours (more often &ndash from 2 to 6 hours)

Base Camp
The period of bad weather lasts short time, it is often accompanied by strong storm wind. Considering this fact, there are special specifications for the base tent, it should be enough wind-resisting. It is especially important in the case if it is impossible to make the base camp near the lake Bivachnoe as winds are not so strong there &ndash the lake is situated in a small depression.

Place of our base camp was opened to all the winds. Tent &ldquo Angara&rdquo of the firm &ldquoRock Pillars&rdquo gave a good account of itself.

Quick change of weather makes for really unearthly views, that I have seen before anywhere in the mountains, nor in summer, neither in winter. During our standing in the mountains I drew a conclusion that at that time, it means, in August, the weather can not cardinally influence on the ascents, taking into account character of the routes. It becomes rather cold even when the weather is generally fine when wind from the plateau Kagaliachap begins to blow. Taking into account all these facts, it is necessary to have corresponding clothes and corresponding mood.


Schemes of routes
All the routes to the summit of the region are combined. Summits that are located in a distance from the main range are built of flimsy rocks and present destroyed edges and slopes. Summits near the main range are built of very solid granite. Structure of mountains here is large-grained, it looks like structure of the Ak-su Peak.

Schemes of routes
Vertical cracks, chimneys, different flushings prevail.

On the northern sides of summits cracks are often filled with wandering ice. Near to the point 5000 meters above sea level ice looks like winter. Cam devices, stoppers, various hooks and ice screws are often used for organizing belay.

From the point of view of alpinist I would like to divide the region conditionally into two parts: the region of the glacier Left Kizil-Asker and the region of the glacier Right Kizil-Asker (orographically). From the glacier Left Kizil-Asker ascents to the Peak Kizil-Asker (northern and north-western walls) and Peak Grandiozny are mostly made. Ascents to other summits can have exploring and training character. It seems to me that there is one route to Kizil-Asker, the route of Valiev (1985) along north-western wall. The northern wall of the Peak Grandiozny, in my opinion, has not been passed yet. I have no information about successful ascent along it, at least.

Above the glacier Right Kizil-Asker
In the region of the glacier Right Kizil-Asker there are more objects to make ascents to. First of all, black unnamed summit ( 5046 m) to the left (along the strike) of the glacier Right Kizil-Asker attracts glances. Two-man team Bandalet-Golovchenko made ascent to this summit along the Eastern edge (approximately 5A grade of difficulty and named the summit Peak Minsk in honour of 940 th anniversary of the capital of Belorussia. At first we made an attempt to pass the right counterfort of the northern wall, but having passed several ropes, we decided to climb along the edge. Rocks there are very difficult and it is very cold on the wall, it is necessary to prepare for the ascent more thoroughly. Northern wall of the Peak Minsk has not been passed yet.

Peak Minsk(5045 m)
Elevation changes equals about 600- 700 meters and average steepness of the wall is about 75-80 degrees. According to its steepness, extension, character of the relief, this wall reminds of the northern all of the Peak Block, of Turkestan range to me. But climate there is noticeably more severe. In the report of Alexander Ruchkin this summit, as an object of unsuccessful expedition is falsely marked beyond the glacier of Komarov as summit 4716 m.

Bulwark Zabor and Peak Grandiozny ( 5432 m)
Peak Grandiozny looks very beautiful especially its eastern edge with unusual bulwarks, we named it &ldquoZabor&rdquo. Bulwark &ldquoZabor&rdquo presents rocky wall with elevation changes 400 meters, about 500 meters wide and average steepness about 70-75 degrees. Probably, it is possible to consider this bulwark as a separate summit. It reminds somehow the situation with Zamok and Parandas in the Fan Mountains. But, as there are not so many alpinists, the question is not relevant. But, taking into account south-eastern exposition of the wall of the bulwark and easy descent from it, it can serve as a very nice and interesting warming-up object.

Opposite the bulwark &ldquoZabor&rdquo there is the summit conditionally named &ldquoBig White&rdquo (because of a giant snow-ice cap on the top of the mountain) with very long south-western wall built of large monolithic blocks and having a lot of variants of ascents to it. In addition to the summits named above, it is also possible to make interesting ascents to following mountains: Cold wall, Uzlovaya and other. There the easiest way &ndash descent route of the team of Valiev to the Peak Kizil-Asker also starts.

From the valley of the glacier of Komarov
On the photo made from the valley of the glacier of Komarov, all the region of the Peak Kizil-Asker is seen. There are variants of ascents to the summits from the glacier of Komarov. The region seems to be compact and looks like marked in the range Kokshaal-Too. Round the Peak Kizil-Asker there is conglomeration of summits and to the left and to the right from these summits there is much free space.


Useful information

Organization of the base camp . There are no useful improvised materials in the place where it is possible to organize the base camp. It is understandable as the region is rarely visited. So, in order to make comparatively comfortable life conditions, it is necessary to bring everything you need with you.

Approaches to the summits of the region even from the place of our base camp are not so long and take about 5-7 hours up to the beginning of routes, depending on the summit you have chosen. In comparison with other mountains approaches to the summits are unusual. In the beginning it is necessary to walk literary along the steppe, or, if you like, along the tundra, rounding waterlogged strips. Direction of walking &ndash from the base camp to the left-side (along the strike) moraine of the glacier Right Kizil-Asker (orographically). There are marks placed by our team. There is one more way, requiring fewer efforts, along the glacier, but it requires some orientating skills. Way from the side moraine to the glacier is also marked with signs.

Routes that have been passed. Peak Minsk along the Eastern edge, approximately 5A grade of difficulty. Bivouac on the moraine of the right glacier Kizil-Asker under the Peak Big White. The route is very long and hard. Monolithic rocky outcrops of the edge provide the main difficulties, rounding them often requires lots of forces and time, and demands attention and belay. Climb to the apical tower is simpler, but it is more difficult if technical sense. Descent from the summit: along the edge to the bottom of apical tower and 150 meters down (steep descent using special devices) to the bottom of south-eastern wall of the Peak Minsk.

Descent from the Peak Minsk to South-East.
Peak Panoramny along the Eastern slope and Northern edge, approximately 3B-4A grade of difficulty. Bivouac on the moraine of the right glacier Kizil-Asker under the Peak Big White. Slope of the summit is snow-ice and the edge is crossed by zone of steep destroyed rocks, about 60 meters long. Descent along the ice is very difficult because of falling stones after sunrise. So we had to descent along the north-western edge. All the northern wall of the Peak Minsk can be seen perfectly from the top of the mountain, in fact, we made ascent to this peak in order to examine the way of our further ascent to the Peak Minsk. Moreover, from the top of the mountain excellent views of the entire region round are seen. We wouldn&rsquot like to recommend the route for advanced alpinists as rocks there are strongly destroyed and descent from the summit is not pleasant either.

Peak Obzorny along the western slope and northern edge, approximately 3B-4A. Bivouac on the moraine of the left glacier Kizil-Asker under the ice slope. Ice slope 400 meters long with obligatory belay leads to the plateau under the Peak Panoramny, then along the rocky edge covered with snow the is coming out to trough under the top and then along snow edge up to the top. Descent should be made along the way of ascent to the plateau and further by couloir, rounding the glacier to the bivouac.

Peak Shtani along the eastern slope, approximately 1B grade of difficulty. Setting off from the bivouac on the moraine of the left glacier Kizil-Asker under the Peak Panoramny. It is necessary to cross the glacier in the direction of the Peak Shtani and climb up to the top along snow-ice slope, there can be some cracks. Descent should be made along the way of ascent.

The team, Odintsov and doctor Bakin
Peak Vovchik along the western couloir and northern slope, approximately 2B grade of difficulty. Bivouac it the pocket of the moraine of the right glacier Kizil-Asker to the mouth of couloir, descending from the bottom of the peak Vovchik. Way along the couloir to northern edge of the glacier Vovchik to the right from rocky outcrop Phallus&hellip In is upper part the couloir is snow-ice. Further it is necessary to climb along the northern snow-ice edge to the top. Descent should be made along the way of ascent.

Peak Minsk

Peak Minsk from Panoramny

Kizil-Asker and Peak Grandiozny


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