Karavshin Region, Various Ascents. On August 5, Guy Edwards, Hermien Freriksen, Brian Webster, Kevin Christakos and I (Canada) flew from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, to Osh in the west, where our week-long epic approach to the mountains began. After intense border crossings, military bribes, food poisoning and heated dealings with the Tadjik donkey men, we finally arrived at Base Camp beneath the towering walls of the Ak-Su Valley. Already our three week trip to these stunning spires had been cut back to two due to the red tape “approach;” I then spent another week sprawled in my tent, delirious with a high fever and painful cough. This left just one week in alpine rock paradise!
While I was sick, Brian and Kevin climbed one of the smaller towers, Pyramid du Pamir, by its 300-meter west face (5.10-). Guy soloed a similar route to the right at the same time. Once I had recovered, Guy and I made a 27-hour round trip of the highest spire, Peak 4810, by its 750-meter south face (V 5.10+). We climbed 15 pitches of cracks and face on good granite to top out just below the summit at dusk, then spent all night descending back to camp for sunrise. During the same time, Brian and Kevin climbed the 1300-meter French route on the northeast buttress (V 5.10-) of Pik 1,000 Years of Russian Christianity in a little over two days up and down.
With only three days left, Guy and I started up our primary objective, the Perestroika Crack (VI 5.12, 900m) on the beautiful Russian Tower (Pik Slesova, 4250m). We climbed 12 pitches of 5.10 cracks on rock as good as Yosemite’s finest while snow squalls blew through, soaking the stone, until the weather worsened and forced us into an early bivouac perched on top of a chockstone in a chimney. With the 5.11 and 5.12 pitches still to come and the rock plastered from the night’s snow storm, we began rappelling with only half the route completed.
On the last day, Hermien and I climbed the Pyramid du Pamir by the line that Guy had soloed, eight pitches of 5.10-, just behind Brian and Kevin. Meanwhile, Guy hooked up with a German climber for a sub-24-hour round-trip of the French route on 1,000 Years of Russian Christianity. They climbed the 35-pitch route in ten simul-climbed pitches, then made 25 rappels through the night, arriving at Base Camp just in time to leave.
Sean Isaac, Canada
Supported by a grant from the Canadian Himalayan Foundation