American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, China, Tien Shan, Tomurty, Far Eastern Tien Shan, First Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Tomurty, far eastern Tien Shan, first ascent. The National Defense Academy Alpine Club of Japan organized an expedition to the Tien Shan to commemorate its 50th anniversary. The objectives were to climb Tomurty (4,886m), the highest virgin peak in the Karlik (Harlik) Shan and to explore the neighboring mountains of the far eastern Tien Shan, a range some 2,400km long.

Tomurty is located about 70km northeast of Hami in Xinjiang Province [a.k.a. Tomort and situated well east of the Bogda Shan at 43.1 N., 94.3 E—Ed.]. Although its height does not exceed 5,000m, it is well glaciated, and despite easy access, the little-known Karlik massif remains almost unexplored. The summit of Tomurty is a table-top ice-snow plateau, with glaciers several kilometers long descending on all sides.

Takashi Kawakami of our alpine club first reached the area near the mountain in the summer of 1996. and a Chinese party made a reconnaissance in late 1996 and early 1997. A Japanese party from Niigata Prefecture made an attempt in 2000, but they made a mistake on the approach and ended up in a valley from which they were not able to reach any of Tomurty’s glaciers.

In the summer of 2004 one of our club members, Koichiro Takahashi, reconnoitered a possible climbing route, finding a way into the Kazantapute valley and a suitable line onto the glacier flowing southwest from the main summit.

Our 2005 expedition comprised I, Isao Fukura (57) as leader, Hiroyuki Katsuki, (25) and Koichiro Takahashi (43), plus a liaison officer, interpreter, and cook from the China Xinjiang Mountaineering Association. We arrived in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on August 7 and the following day reached the village of Badashi (1,800m) by road.

We reached base camp at 3,800m on the 9th, with the help of camels and mules. Over the next few days we ferried loads up the glacier and established Camp 1 (4,200m) on the 12th. On the 15th, after a reconnaissance the previous day, Katsuki and Takahashi left this camp at 7 a.m. in fine weather with a light wind and a temperature of -9°C. A crevassed glacier led to a 50° snow/ice face and eventually the summit, which they reached at 3:40 p.m. A GPS reading indicated an altitude of 4,892m. They returned safely to base camp the following day

Isao Fukura, National Defense Academy AC, Japan

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