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Asia, Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), Kyrgyzstan, Karavshin Region, Akshirak and Pamir Alai Ranges, Various Ascents

Akshirak and Pamir Alai Ranges, Various Ascents. In July, Chris Seashore, Carol Petrelli, Blase Reardon and I went to the Akshirak Range in eastern Kyrgyzstan for ski mountaineering. The range is a day’s drive (by old slow Russian army truck) due south of Lake Issykul. Base Camp was reached by driving about 20 kilometers up river from the small town of Kara Se to the end of the dirt track, then pushing another ten kilometers overland by truck, and finally walking about ten kilometers to the confluence of two large glaciated valleys that join to form the Kara Se River. The region is remote and untouched; we climbed and skied five unnamed and previously unskied peaks immediately surrounding the confluence. Peak heights ranged from 4500 to 4800 meters. The skiable terrain ranged from 350 to 500 meters of 35- 45°. We judged anything steeper than 45° to be too dangerous because the thin layer of new snow was hanging on old blue ice. I would recommend skiing in the area earlier in the summer or late in the spring when there is more snow and colder temperatures.

After two weeks in the Akshirak Range, Chris Seashore and I traveled to the Pamir Alai where the peaks are higher. We skied three peaks near Peak Lenin. One, Ukana (5100m), is routinely climbed from the Peak Lenin Base Camp. The other two were approached by hiking straight up the valley as you trek from lower Base Camp toward Peak Lenin. (The path to Lenin turns left over a small pass). All the ski runs had pitches of consistent 45°, and all were, I believe, unskied. I ski-cut one oozing slide because we were too greedy and made a second run on one of the peaks late in the day. We also made two runs on the lower half of the standard route on Peak Lenin. Other possibilities abound, but we had some bad weather and ran out of time.

Jon Turk