American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tadjikistan, Pamir-Alai, Muzcol Range, Various Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Muzcol Range, Various Ascents. It was reported that a 13-member EWP expedition traveled to the eastern Pamir of Tadjikistan to explore the remote and infrequently visited Muzcol Range. The expedition recorded five first ascents: Snow Leopard Peak (5875 m, Russian 2B) on August 6; Shattered Point (5320 m, 1A) via the easy west ridge; Gipsovy (5918 m, 1B) via the south face and east ridge, Ximena (5422 m, 2B) via the northeast face on August 12, and Grud (4937 m, 1A); The most technically interesting ascent was of Dvuglanvny (6148 m), where, on August 11, Mark Richard and Andrew Wielochowski climbed the sustained icy slopes and two short steep chimneys of the northwest face to reach the easier upper section of the west ridge. The route was graded 5B. (High Mountain Sports 171)

Pamir, Various Ascents. My husband, Serguei Arsentiev, and I joined Anatoly Mushnikov’s CET-NEVA Pamir expedition in July. Our goal was to climb Vorobyov (5691 m), Peak of Four (6299 m), Korzhenevskaya (7105 m) and Communism (7495 m) in a 25-day period. From Karamyk we took a 15-minute helicopter ride to Base Camp on the Moskvin Glacier. While acclimating in Base Camp, I was appalled to learn there were only about 50 climbers this season, compared to 400 from the last time I was there four years ago.

Of the nine Basques that joined us, two (Felipe Uriarte Camara and Pedro Azpiqru Alberdi) climbed all four peaks in alpine style. They were joined by the Spaniard Antonio Sanchez. Two French, Thierry Pollet and Joel Blanchin, also topped out. As for Serguei and I, we summitted: Vorobyov on August 6 in sunny weather, Peak of Four on August 9 in fair weather, Korzhenevskaya on August 16 in medium to high winds and poor visibility after two nights at 6300 meters, and Communism on August 25 in clear weather after the storm. It was Serguei’s fifth successful ascent of Peak Communism.

One Belgian died on the descent of Peak of Four a day prior to our ascent. Two Iranians died on Peak Communism, one near the top during the descent, the second, of over-exposure, lack of food and drink. A rescue team of six was sent by Vladimir Moshkow, Director of Navruz, the international alpinist camp on the Moskvin Glacier. Serguei used to be a member of the Soviet rescue team and thinks the qualifications for team members these days is suspect and that they are not properly compensated. The rescuers were supposed to have a helicopter drop of supplies, which never happened. Their tents were broken by high winds. Fortunately, they were able to survive the storm and return with the one surviving Iranian climber.

Based on six different altimeter readings, we believe that the Moskvin Base Camp is actually 4400 meters, not 4200 meters. Helicopters are not allowed to land higher than the latter.

Fran Distefano-Arsentiev

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