American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Russia, Caucasus, Mizhirgi (5,025m), North Ridge, Winter Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2010

Mizhirgi (5,025m), north ridge, winter ascent. In early January 2009 Sasha Gukov, Sergey Kondrashkin, Alik Izotov, and Viktor Koval made the first winter ascent of the north ridge of Mizhirgi East Peak (4,927m). Mizhirgi is an eastern subsidiary summit of Dych-tau (5,204m), on the ridge toward Koshtun-tau (5,151m); its north face rises almost 2,000m above the Mizhirgi glacier basin. The route was first climbed in August 1952 by Vasiliy Pelevin’s five-man team, at hard 5B, but is rarely repeated, due to poor rock and stonefall in the lower section. The 2009 team experienced much spindrift and bad weather, making five bivouacs before reaching the summit. On the third they spent most of the night keeping the tent from being crushed by snowfall; on the following morning the temperature was ca -30°C.

From the East Peak, reached January 8, they traversed a sharp ridge to the West Peak and descended the south ridge (5A), continuing through the night to arrive on the Sella Glacier at 3 a.m. Next morning, while approaching the Jangi Kosh hut, Gukov was partially buried by an avalanche but managed to extract himself. Next day Kondrashkin was buried under half a meter of snow by another avalanche. His ski pole was visible, and teammates dug him out. They finally reached the Bezengi Glacier, to the west, and waded north down the moraine in a meter of fresh snow. This was one of the most impressive winter ascents in the CIS during 2009.

Anna Piunova,

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