American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Pamir Alai, Western Kokshaal-Too, Kyrgyzstan-Asia, China Border Changes

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Kyrgyzstan-China border changes. During our journey to the Western Kokshaal-Too reported above, we were surprised to find that sections of the border have been realigned. All current printed maps (Kyrghyzstan, a Climber’s Map and Guide, produced for the AAC in 2005) show the de-facto boundary that has stood since the time of the Soviet Union. The legal border had been ill defined since the 1860s-1880s agreements between Russia and China.

A new agreement, which remains highly contentious in Kyrgyzstan, cedes significant parts of the disputed territory to China. One such area starts west of the Bedel Pass, with the new border following the Uzengegush River from the point where the road meets it from the north to the confluence of the Chon-Tyuekuyruk River (grid ref. 436630 on 2005 AAC map). The border then follows the Chon-Tyuekuyruk east of Pik Koroleva (5,816m). Along the Uzengegush section we saw border posts dated 2001. The originally disputed territory encompasses the whole alpine area of the Western Kokshaal-Too, as well as much of the Borkoldoy range. Only a small part of the affected area appears on the AAC map. The recent agreement also cedes an area of the Kokshaal that lies west of the main massif.

The road up the Uzengegush now crosses into China for some of its length, and we were told only military vehicles are authorized to use it. The road was also blocked by landslides, although these were later cleared. Future parties may find it more convenient to access the Fersmana Glacier by approaching via Naryn to the west, driving as far as base camp in the Kotur Valley and then walking the remaining 9km to the Sarychat River. It is not possible to connect east and west sides of the West Kokshaal-Too by vehicle. There is a steep gorge in the middle, and my guess is that the road marked on maps was once planned but never built.

Much farther east it appears that at the eastern end of the Inylchek Glacier the new border turns north at Pobeda East, follows the ridge through Pik Shipilov, and crosses the glacier to Khan Tengri.

Paul Knott, New Zealand

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