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Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tengri Tag, Pik Pogrebetskogo, Northwest Face

Pik Pogrebetskogo, northwest face. From August 10-16 the Krasnoyarsk team of Vladimir Arhipov, Sergey Cherezov, Vladimir Gunko, Andrey Litvinov, Alexander Mikhalitsin (leader), and Alexander Yanushevich made the long-awaited first ascent of the northwest face of Pik Pogrebetskogo (6,487m) at the head of the South Inylchek glacier. This mountain appears to have been climbed only once before, in 1980 via the west ridge. Its name commemorates the first ascensionist of nearby Khan Tengri, M Pogrebetskiy. The face consists of an initial l,000m-high snow-and-ice slope, topped by an 800m rock wall. It was first attempted in 1984 by a team from Moscow, again in 1989 by Krasnoyarsk climbers, and subsequently in 1991 by a team from Irkutsk. All were defeated, as was an attempt by four strong British climbers in 1994, and the face gained the reputation of being the last virgin high-altitude wall in the former Soviet Union.

On the recent ascent the team found serious difficulties on the upper rock wall, reached the summit in the early afternoon on the 16th, and then began rappelling the route. However, part way down the weather deteriorated, and heavy snowfall made the lower section dangerous from avalanches. They continued through the night of the 17th and by midday on the 18th were safely back at base camp. The overall grade was 6A.

Paul Knott, New Zealand, and Anna Piunova, www.mountain.ru, Russia