Peak Milo (pik 4,800) and Peak Misha (pik 4,750), ski descents. Martin Strasser and I went to the Kuilu range, travelling to the site of Pat Littlejohns base camp (ca 3,300m) in a surplus Soviet military vehicle (2001 AAJ, Pat Littlejohn, p. 341–2). But shortly after our arrival, I came down with strep throat. While I recovered, Martin made a solo ascent and descent of Pik 4,375, just southwest of our camp. Then we followed the Karator River east to the next drainage, which we followed south to the base of a large glacier, and set up Advanced Base Camp I (AB-I) at ca 3,800m.
From AB-I we climbed and skied two peaks—both first ascents, we believe. We climbed the first of these, located on the west side of the glacier and due south of AB-I, on June 16. Starting at 4:30 a.m., we skied up the glacier to the base of a 40° slope leading to the south ridge, then cramponed up firm snow that, unfortunately, gave way to post-holing. But conditions improved when we gained the top of the ridge, where a series of steps (up to 50°) with alternating ice and deep snow lead us to the summit (ca 4,800m) by noon.
We skied down the ridge that we had climbed up. Initially we enjoyed cold, dry snow, but half-way down the ridge we dropped onto the east face and threaded through seracs, where the snow became atrocious. Although each turn on the east face triggered a wet avalanche, we made it to the base without mishap.
On June 17, we climbed the peak on the east side of the glacier. Martin left an hour early, while the snow was still firm, to climb and ski a new line on the 50° face of Peak Milo (pik 4,800). Then we met on the glacier, and skied up Peak Misha (pik 4,750) from the south col, on its western slopes. Our ski descent took us down the northwest face, including a 50° chute, on snow that stayed dry and firm until late in the day.
We believe these were first ascents, and are suggesting the names Peak Milo and Peak Misha to the Russian Mountaineering Federation, and to our outfitter in Bishkek.
We reached Advanced Base Camp II (AB-II) by following the Kuilu River west (on an animal trail) to the first river valley west of the Karator Valley. Then we hiked south along the river for about 10 km until we came to the glacier. We established AB-II at 3,750m, close to the spot where we could begin skiing.
After one rest day, we skied to the base of pik 4,750, at 3:30 a.m. We skied up a ramp that led from the low angled glacier to the base of the northwest face. There were crevasses on the ramp, so we roped up and climbed 40° slopes to the steeper part of the face, where crusty snow offered poor protection (the rock was worse). So we soloed together up 50 to 55° chutes, reaching the rocky summit of Pik 4,750 after three pitches. Because of the crusty snow and rock cliffs, we set up an anchor on the summit and skied down the steep part of the northwest face on belay. When we got back down to the 40° slopes, we unroped and skied down our route of ascent. All of our descents were made on telemark skis.
This area has a lot of potential for technical routes during the cold part of the year. With lower temperatures, much of the unstable snow we encountered could be avoided. The rock we encountered was generally poor.
Kyle Amstadter, AAC