American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, USSR, Peaks in Pik Kommunizma Area

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991

Peaks in Pik Kommunizma Area. Between July 15 and August 12, Ace Kvale and I climbed in the Pik Kommunizma area of the Pamirs. We arrived in the Moskvina Base Camp by helicopter four days after leaving Paris. After a brief period of acclimatization, I climbed a new route on the north face of Pik Vorobyova (5440 meters, 17,848 feet). The 800-meter-high route is mainly on 45° to 90°+ ice and is threatened by two separate sérac bands. I followed a large couloir directly below the summit and passed the final rockband by way of a six-meter column of water ice. Next Kvale and I confronted Pik Fourth (6300 meters, 20,670 feet), which we climbed by the normal route on the second try, having been turned back the first time 200 meters from the top by bad snow conditions. I attempted solo a new 1800-meter high, “thoroughly modem” ice route on the north face of Pik Kommunizma. I climbed quickly through the first rockbands to find the the magic line of water ice was nothing more than a curtain of powder snow plastered onto vertical and overhanging rock. I retreated to Base Camp with two rappels and 600 meters of down-climbing. Two days later, Kvale started up the Borodkin Pillar of Pik Kommunizma with four Russians. After eight hours of climbing, he set up his tent at 6100 meters, while the Soviets continued to 6500 meters; two summited the following day and descended all the way to Base Camp. Meanwhile, I left Base Camp at two A.M. and walked to the bottom of Pik Kommunizma’s north face again. I started up the Czech route at four A.M. The route is steep for only the first 1800 meters; I climbed on sustained 55° hard water ice, passing a 150-meter crux of 70° to 75° ice with a critical section of 35 meters where the ice was less than an inch thick. I arrived at the plateau at ten A.M. and at Kvale’s tent a half hour later. He had planned to spend the day there resting. We set out for the summit the next morning. Kvale turned back at 7200 meters, having surpassed his altitude record by 1200 meters because of fatigue and on-coming bad weather. I reached the summit at five P.M. and after five minutes began the descent. In a half an hour it began to snow and blow. With reduced visibility, I got back to the 6100-meter bivouac at eight P.M. The next day we descended the Borodkin Pillar.

Marc Francis Twight

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