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Asia, USSR, Fanskiye Gory and Turkestanski Ranges

Fanskiye Gory and Turkestanski Ranges. Nine Americans climbed in two mountain ranges in the Soviet Union in 1987. Carla Firey, Tom Hargis, Matt Kerns, Frith Maier, Jim McCarthy, Dan McNerthney, Jim Phillips and Bill Sumner from Seattle and I from Boulder were invited to climb in the Fanskiye Gory and the Turkestanski ranges of the Pamir Alai as the first half of a Seattle-Tashkent sister city mountaineering exchange. Nine Soviet climbers will visit Seattle climbers in the Northwest in 1988. The Fanskiye Gory is in Tadjikistan, just west of the Pamir Alai, and the Turkestanski is in Kirghizistan about 100 miles north of the Afghan border. In the Fanskiye Gory we climbed Energia (5200 meters, 17,061 feet) and Tschimtarga (5480 meters, 17,979 feet) with our Soviet hosts. Hargis, Kerns and Sumner then did the second ascent on the northeast face of Soan. All these peaks are in the Sindon valley, on the other side of the mountains from where the 1976 exchange was located. We then traveled to Leninabad, via bus and truck, into the Turkestanski mountains where we had Base Camp at a large Soviet camp. This range was only recently opened for any climbers, including Soviets. We were the first Westerners invited to climb there. We established a higher camp near the base of 14,500-foot Observation. Hargis, Kerns and McNerthney attempted the east ridge of Ak-Su (5200 meters, 17,061 feet). They spent over three days and were turned back at about 4800 meters because of continuous bad weather and winter snow conditions. Firey, McCarthy and I tried Iskander Mal and retreated because of rockfall from a dozen Soviets j├╝maring above us. We then attempted Pik Aleksandra Bloka, the second highest in the region, but were forced to turn back when a severe storm struck us at a bivouac at the top of an ice couloir. Maier, Phillips and Sumner climbed two previously unclimbed peaks, Atabekovoi (4700 meters, 15,420 feet) and an unnamed peak in an adjoining valley. The mountains are the most spectacular I have ever climbed in, reminiscent of Patagonia.

Sibylle Hechtel