American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tien Shan, Komarova Glacier, Pic Babushka at Pt 4,850m ("Pic Sabor"), New Routes

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

Komarova Glacier, Pic Babushka and Pt 4,850m (“Pic Sabor”), new routes. As half of the Scottish Kizil Asker expedition, Blair Fyffe and I climbed two alpine style routes. The expedition visited the Kokshaal-Too region with the aim of climbing the northwest face of Kizil Asker. However due to poor weather and the distance from base camp this turned out to be unfeasible. Instead the base camp was established beneath the Komarova glaciers and a number of routes were climbed from there.

First as a warm up was the north face of Pik Babushka (5,282m), a beautiful alpine snow/ice face with about 700m of climbing up to Scottish V, climbed in a long day from the Central Komarova Glacier. The route took the prominent central groove and upper snow arête of the snowy north face, clearly visible from the base camp at the glacier snout. Descent was made down the west ridge and then the south face, followed by a walk back to the central glacier via the window col separating Pik Jerry Garcia and Pik Unmarked Soldier. This route was first climbed in 1998 by Christian Beckwith and Mark Price.

We then moved to the glacier below Kizil Asker and climbed the north ridge of the mountain marked as Pt 4,850m on the map, making the first ascent of what we christened Peak Sabor (Cathedral Peak), cathedral being one of the few words in our phrase book that could describe a mountain. The route ascended the left hand side of the icefall before gaining the ridge proper. We climbed the long low-angled section easily until the brèche (notch). A few tricky pitches and an abseil overcame the brèche and the steeper, blunt ridge above was gained. The ridge gave good climbing in icy runnels and rock steps, although relatively warm temperatures, being a general feature of the trip, led to some poor snow and ice conditions. After a bivi at one-third height we reached the summit by mid afternoon of the second day. The descent was made by abseiling the route until the breche and then abseiling the broad gully on the east side of the breche. The route gave some technical climbing and is perhaps worthy of an alpine grade of TD+. We think Pic Sabor has been climbed by a Russian expedition from the south side, although we think our route is a first ascent. (Editor’s note: this peak was first climbed via the west-southwest rib in 1985 by Kasbek Valiev’s team during the competition era.)

During the descent the weather deteriorated and the descent to the Kizil Glacier was hazardous due to avalanches from either side. The snow persisted for another three days, leaving waist-deep snow for the walk back to base camp at the snout of the neighboring Komarova glaciers.

Neal Crampton, U.K.

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