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Asia, Russia, Pamir Range, Zaalaisky Range, Sat Peak Traverse

Zaalaisky Range, Sat Peak traverse. In July 2002, I led a team of Moscow climbers on several climbs in the western Zaalaisky Range (the Pamir), and the first full traverse of the Sat Peak massif. Because the western Zaalaisky Range is separated from Lenin Peak (7,135m) by Ters-Agar pass, it is actually a separate range, with steep ice-falls and many rock faces and ice walls. The highest point, Sat Peak (5,900m), is located in the long southern branch of the Zaalaisky Range. The second highest summit, Surkhangoy Peak (5,627m), is also situated in the southern branch. The Sat Peak massif consists of Sat Main (5,900m) and, from east to west, 5,781m, 5,820m, 5,840m (Sat Middle), and 5,740m high summits. Sat Peak plateau is within the triangle formed between Sat Middle, Sat Main, and the 5,740m summit.

Though exploration began in the 1930s, the western Zaalaisky is rarely visited today because nearby Lenin Peak attracts most of the attention. Several teams made ascents of Sat Peak in 1985, 1996, and 1998 by a variety of routes, all from South Kyzilsy Glacier, and all leading across Sat Peak plateau (5,700m). We began our traverse from the southwest tributary of South Kyzilsy Glacier, on a 30° to 45° crevassed snow and ice slope. An easy rock and ice ridge led to the traverse of the 5,781m and 5,820m summits, then Sat Peak was climbed from Sat Peak plateau. Afterward, we continued west on an eroded rock ridge via summit 5,740m. Then it took two days to descend to Surkhangoy Glacier because bad weather made it necessary to fix ropes all the way down.

We also made a first ascent of two beautiful summits (about 5,200m) several kilometers east of Sat Peak. These summits were named Kyzilkul East and Kyzilkul West. The Western Zaalay still holds great potential for first ascents on 4,800m to 5,500m peaks, with routes of varying levels of difficulty.

Alexander Novik, Russia