The Trans-Alay Pamirs delineate the southern border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with the Western Zaalaisky sub-range about 75km west of Peak Lenin.
Andy Stratford led a team including AC member Emily Thompson, along with Steve Graham (AC Membership app recently submitted), Andy Vine, Jared Kitchen, Stuart Hurworth; all six being members of the Karabiner Mountaineering Club which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2019.
Ak Chukur 4958m from BC Photo by Emily Thompson
After flying into the southern city of Osh, August 10th we approached the Altyn Daria valley by 6WD ATV in two days, establishing a comfortable base camp at 3170m in dusty summer nomad pasture. Google Earth and Soviet Military Maps were utilised in advance to identify possible ABC approaches, viable peaks, and climbing routes in three valleys to the West.
Andy S and Steve G Abseil off Ak Chukur Photo by Andy Vine
Only one valley, the Bel Uluu proved viable and from this Steve, Andy S, Stuart and Andy V completed the first ascent of Ak Chukur 4958m, via ‘Deception Route’ (PD) – an easy glacier ascent with a final pitch of steep mixed climbing - to a 2m x 2m rock platform overlooking a precipitous 1.5km drop to the Altyn Daria below. The other two valleys – Kaska Suu and Min Terke proved very difficult to access due to several dangerous river crossings, so, we turned our attention East. Jared and Emily undertook vital recce work and by the time the Ak Chukur team returned we had two further objectives identified.
Emily crossing Bel Uluu river Photo by Andy Vine
Approached from an unnamed side valley 2km NE of Base Camp, Pik a-Boo 5077m, so named as the summit remained hidden, was a first ascent at AD- via the North Glacier Route - several mixed and ice sections to a snow arete then a small rock pinnacle summit, climbed by Steve, Jared and Emily on Friday 23rd August
L to R Andy Vine, Steve Graham, Emily Thompson, Jared Kitchen, Andy Stratford and Stuart Hurworth
From the Kok Kikki valley Stuart and Andy V made a first ascent of Broken Peak at PD+ via the Golden Tower Traverse on Sunday 25th, the only rock ridge route of the expedition. From a side valley of the Kok Kikki and after an alpine start on Tuesday 27th Steve and Jared forced a route through difficult crevassed terrain, much of the time on steep bare glacier ice using dozens of ice screw placements, eventually summiting Ak Kalpak 5112m as a first ascent via a route they named North Ridge Chasm Route and graded Difficile. On the same day, Andy S, Andy V and Stuart attempted a similarly steep route direct up the north face of the glacier under Pt 5084. Retreat ensued from 4480m as the trio had moved too slowly on the bare glacier ice.
Recce of Bel-Uluu Glacier, kit drop at ABC Photo by Andy Stratford
The team were supported in-country by ITMC and had superb base camp support from experienced cooks and fixers Alexey and Sacha.
The team would like to acknowledge our principal sponsor, MONTANE and support from Expedition Foods and Terra Nova. The expedition received funding from the Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund, the Mount Everest Foundation, the BMC, Karabiner Mountaineering Club and Austrian Alpine Club Sektion Britanika.
Steve Graham Ak Chukur summit Photo by Andy Vine