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Asia, Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), Kyrgyzstan, West Kokshaal-Tau, Kotur Glacier Region, Various Ascents

Kotur Glacier Region, Various Ascents. Guides Pat Littlejohn (U.K.), Alan Delizee (France) and Vladimir Komissarov (Kyrgyzstan), with Dr. Jane Whitmore, Alan Dunworth, Richard Smith, Ingrid Crossland, Christopher Clarke and Joanna da Silva, approached the Kotur Glacier region by six-wheel-drive vehicle (an ex-Russian army vehicle) and set up Base Camp at 3950 meters on a flat, grassy spot below the snout of the Kotur (or Ototash) Glacier. Advanced Base Camp was established at 4550 meters some four hours up the glacier and from here, peaks were attempted alpine style in three climbing teams. Going clockwise around the head of the glacier from east to west, summits climbed were:

Pik Obzhornazy (5155.7m). This peak had been climbed by Russians in the 1980s. We took the same route via a shallow spur on the west side (PD).

Pik Judith-Brian (5050m). Possibly climbed before, but we made a new route via the east ridge (AD+) characterized by a big leaning gendarme (which proved too hard to re-ascend, forcing a descent by the north face).

• Pik Pyramida (5140m). This peak had been climbed by Russians in the 1980s. It is an elegant but straightforward snow peak at the head of the glacier, left of the Kotur Pass; we climbed it via the northwest ridge (PD).

• Volshebnitsa (White Witch, 5285m). The queen of the group. A stunning, technical peak that we climbed by the north ridge (D+) via ice runnels up to 75 degrees, then a spectacular knife-edged crest for the mountain’s first ascent.

• Pik Jjin (5180m). Highest of the Trezubets (“Three Teeth”). There are in fact four “teeth,” one of which was climbed by Russians in the 1980s; one remains unclimbed. Pik Jjin was tackled by a prominent ice ramp on the east face followed by a corniced ridge (AD).

• Pik Oleg (4950m). This was the most northerly peak of the ones we climbed and the lowest point of the Trezubets. We climbed it via the north flank (PD); it had probably been done before.

Pat Littlejohn, United Kingdom