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Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Ala Archa National Park, Svobodnaya Korea (Free Korea Peak), North Face, New Route

Svobodnaya Korea (Free Korea Peak), North Face, New Route. From February 21-26, a Krasnoyarsk team led by Valery Balezin, and comprising Vladimir Alexandrov, Andrew Zakrepa, Yuri Stepanov, Alexander Terentiev, and Sergey Cherezov, established a new route on the north face of Svobodnaya Korea (Free Korea Peak, 4777m). (The route is indicated as route 15 on page 309 of the 2000 AAJ.) The route, which was given a Russian grade of 5B for winter, comes in on the left side of the north face in a line that runs between the 1982 A. Shvab route (5B) and the 1966 B. Studenin route (6A). Neither the Shvab nor the Studenin routes have seen a second ascent.

Between these two routes is an icy couloir that was considered in 1995. As with all the most technical routes on Free Korea, it is composed of three parts: first, an ice slope up to about 50 degrees, then a rock face (about 80°) and finally a steep mixed section that leads to a knife-edge ridge, which is then followed to the summit.

The team fixed ropes on February 21 and 22. On February 23, they established Camp I at 4360 meters, from which they operated for the next two days. On February 25, they attempted to reach the ridge, but the mixed section consisted of very difficult conditions, and the team was forced to set up a Camp II at 4560 meters, one pitch before the ridge. The summit was reached on February 26, and a return to Base Camp was made on the 27th.

Due to rockfall danger in the summertime, the route could only be attempted in winter conditions, when the average daytime temperatures reach -25°C.

Vladimir Shataev and Vladimir Kopylov, Russian Mountaineering Federation