American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Kara-su Valley, Nameless Tower, Opposite to Asan

Kyrgyzstan, Pamir Alai, Karavshin

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Lukasz Depta
  • Climb Year: 2006
  • Publication Year: 2007

Our plan was to repeat existing routes but also climb new ones in the Kara-su valley. For our new route we chose the east face of the nameless tower directly opposite Asan; its altitude is ca 4,000m. [This wall is now known as the Silver Wall.] We met a Kyrgyzstan climber named Alexiej who told us this yellow granite wall was unclimbed. Stable sunny weather helped us achieve our goal.

We scoped the face from the ground and saw a possible line up a system of corners and chimneys in the central section of the face. We sketched topographic details, to make route-finding easier once we were on the wall, and with this topo of a nonexistent route and some aid gear we set off at daybreak.

From the start we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the granite and hoped it would continue. We climbed the great corner by a system of elegant cracks. A little roof appeared above, and it seemed likely we would need to use aid, but we found that it went free. The pitch above, however, turned out to be the hardest of the route, though perfect Friend placements assured good protection for this 40m dihedral.

By now the sun was leaving the wall. We exited the great corner and followed a system of shallow chimneys, while watching shadows creep slowly up the west face of Asan. Chasing darkness but still on excellent rock, we came to the end of the difficulties and avoided an unpleasant bivouac on the harsh vertical wall, reaching the summit at twilight.

Although it was a frosty night, it seemed better to stay than lose our way in the dark. The sparkling lights of the other climbers on Asan disappeared, to be replaced by familiar constellations appearing from behind the ridge. Cuddled inside a rescue blanket, we fell into a restless slumber. Next day we returned to the valley and paid our respects to shepherds in a wooden shelter, before making our way back to base camp. We named our route, logically, Opposite to Asan (700m, 17 pitches, French 6a, sustained at V and V+, 150m of easier II-IV). We also repeated the classic Alperien Route (Russian 5B) on the west face of Asan, taking one-and-a-half days to make a redpoint ascent at 6c+.

Lukasz Depta, Poland

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