Topoz (Yak, 4,600m), Inek (4,560m), first ascents. On the drive from the Torugart-Too [see Littlejohn report, above] to At Bashi, we visited one of the most important historic sites in Kyrgyzstan: the Tash Rabat Caravanserai, a fortified “castle” high in the mountains. I was surprised to discover that it is located beside the most spectacular cliffs (up to 400m) I have yet seen at lower altitudes in Kyrgyzstan; one day this will be an important rock climbing destination.
A friend of mine, Andrew Wielochowski, had taken a novice group to climb in the western At Bashi just before our visit; otherwise there are no records of any mountaineering there. The peaks are lower, never reaching 5,000m, but the range is extensive, 100km from end to end. Our approach lay up a valley called Orto Kaindy, where Andrew had spotted an amazing “Matterhorn-like” peak that was too difficult for his team to attempt. We hired horses to get our gear up to a beautiful advanced base camp on a pasture below the glacier, overlooked by the awesome bulk of Topoz (the “Matterhorn”). A herd of semi-wild horses grazed around our camp, to complete this perfect cameo of mountaineering in Kyrgyzstan.
Our first attempt on Topoz was an exciting traverse over pinnacles on the south ridge, but we arrived at the summit dome too late in the day to attempt it. The following day a mysterious wind sprang up, building to gale force at times and threatening the tents, though all the time the sky remained clear. After 36 hours the wind simply died away. This meant we could make another attempt, this time via the west flank of the peak, which proved faster and got us to the summit dome by 11:30 a.m. An hour of rock climbing, and we were on top, gazing out at endless unclimbed summits receding into the distance to east and west, promising great future adventures.
On our last day at ABC Vlad and Leif climbed a nice little peak next to Topoz (Inek, 4,560m), while the rest of us read books in the sun, and then it was back to Naryn for sauna, feasting, and folk music.
First ascents in the At Bashi (2007) by Max Gough, Helen Griffin, Barney Harford, Leif Iversen, Vladimir Komissarov, Pat Littlejohn, and Peter Mounsey:
Topoz (Yak, 4,600m): south ridge to summit dome (traversing towers), then south face of summit dome, or summit dome by west flank and couloir, AD+ by south ridge, AD by west flank, Gough-Harford-Littlejohn.
Inek (4,560m): glacier ascent to Mamalik Pass, east scree and rock ridge to summit, PD, Iversen-Komissarov.
Pat Littlejohn, Alpine Club