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Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tien Shan, Borkoldoy, Djungart Range, First Recorded Visit and Exploration

Djungart Range, first recorded visit and exploration. After an acclimatization ascent in the Ala Archa, Graham Sutton and I traveled from Bishkek via Karakol to At Jailoo (2,655m). From there we were able to make a 25-minute flight by helicopter to a base camp at 3,060m in the previously unvisited Djungart Range of the Tien Shan (Kyrghyz Map K-44-XIX: N 41 44' 32.6?, E 78 56' 52.5?). We arrived on August 1.

Our aim was to explore the region and make the first ascent of its highest peak, Pt. 5,318m. Running south from base camp, two parallel valleys flank the east and west sides of this peak; we reconnoitered both. We first established an Advanced Base at 3,545m in the eastern valley, and on the 7th we climbed a gully on the flank of Pt 5,318m that connected with the western valley. We reached a height of 4,150m over scree and boulders. Sutton and I then walked further up valley to ca 4,000m, but found no obvious way forwarded through complex moraine and steep hanging glaciers. We dismantled advanced base and a few days later sited another camp at 3,500m in the western valley, later inspecting this valley to 4,000m before returning to base. On the 17th we made a 35-minute flight to Karkara, after which we returned to Bishkek via a night in Karakol. Throughout our stay the weather was exceptionally warm, with rain up to 4,000m. Any snow encountered was old and rotten, and there were regular late afternoon storms. Exploration revealed steep rocky terrain (for which we had no gear) interrupted by hanging glaciers, which due to large crevasses and avalanche danger we considered unsafe. Only border zone permits were needed to visit this area; these were easily arranged for $10 per person by ITMC in Bishkek (one month’s notice needed). Gifts of cigarettes, watermelons, and fresh fruit were greatly appreciated by the border guards.

Ingrid Crossland, United Kingdom