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Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Pamir, Zaalayskiy Range, Kurumdy East, North Rib

Zaalayskiy Range, Kurumdy East, north rib. Our team of 11 Czech and Slovak climbers approached the Eastern Zaalayskiy Range by six-wheel-drive from the settlement of Sary Tash, on the rough Osh-Kashgar road near the Tajik border. When we could drive no further, we spent two days carrying our 500 kg of equipment to a base camp at 4,050m on the moraines of the East Kyzylsu (Kyzilsy) Glacier, below the northern flanks of Kurumdy. No porters, no donkeys, just human power—it helped with acclimatization. After an initial snowfall, the weather improved over the next 10 days until another spell of bad weather hit the area. By that time we were on our way out.Fixing the initial section of Kurumdy East’s north rib, we found the shattered crest had many dangerously loose blocks. Above, a section of snow-covered scree led to a flat area on the rib at 4,900m, where we placed Camp 1. (By the time we finished the route, the snow had melted to its underlying ice sheet, making the climbing much more serious.) Above Camp 1 the ridge was almost horizontal, snowy and narrow, until it reached the crux, a one- pitch, 80° wall of ice and frozen rubble covered with light powder. Above, a 150-meter section of ridge, made of the same material, continued to a large cornice that provided just enough room for Camp 2 (5,200m). All this section was fixed.

Above Camp 2 we climbed alpine style at UIAA III—IV on generally mixed ground, with only a few good protection points on each pitch. We dug a site for one tent, Camp 3, into a steep snow bank at 5,700m; this served the summit team for two nights. On August 2 at 3 p.m., after plowing through knee-deep snow, Jan Dolezal and Tomas Ehler reached the 6,384m summit of Kurumdy East, which according to Russian information sources was the highest unclimbed peak in the Pamir [Editor’s Note: Kurumdy I, the highest summit in the range, at 6,613m, was first climbed in 1932 by Timashev and party].

Michal Kleslo, Alpine Club Tatran Havirov, Czech Republic