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Asia, China, Tien Shan, Kashkar, First Ascent and Traverse

Kashkar, first ascent and traverse. In July a team from Moscow made the first ascent of 6,435m Kashkar (aka Koshkar or Kochkar Bashi), an isolated massif lying in the rarely visited Chinese Tien Shan ca 20km due south of Pobeda. The peak is thought to have been attempted by French in the early 1990s and members of the Moscow party made a reconnaissance in 2002. From a 3,400m base camp on the Chonteren Glacier Alexey Kirienko, David Lehtman, Vladimir Leonenko, Ilya Mikhalev, and Yury Strubtsov spent three days climbing through an ice fall and along a previously unnamed glacier (christened Morenny) to reach the foot of the north ridge of the mountain. The next day, July 11, they climbed up to the first summit on the ridge, Pt 5,550m and camped at 5,400m. The following day they crossed Pt 5,550m, the day after that Pt 5,620m and on the 14th 5,650m. Several days of bad weather pinned them down at 6,000m and at one stage a tent with three occupants was completely buried by avalanche but the summit snow dome was eventually reached on the 21st (from where they were able to contact Moscow by satellite phone). The team continued the traverse by descending the east ridge, a route they had climbed to ca 5,750m in 2002. In one and a half days they reached the Ladybird Glacier and were back at base camp on the 23rd. Climbing in classic style, the team used fixed rope on ca 2,000m of the ascent and 700m of descent, the total length of the route being nearly 14km and Russian 4B/5A. The team admits to being stretched, having taken food and fuel for a maximum of 10 days, rather than the 16 that it took in a round trip from base. They also note at least 20 unclimbed 6,000m peaks on this side of the range.

Anna Piunova, mountain.ru, Russia