These days I’m interested in making single push, alpine mixed climbs without using aid or fixed rope. Last winter Gennadiy Kabalin, Boris Tretjakov, and I had an unforgettable adventure in Ala Archa, one of my favorite places for winter climbing.
To aid acclimatization we first made a new route on the northwest face of an unnamed 4,300m summit that lies on the west ridge of Korona (4,860m). We climbed more or less up the center of the face and then left along the ridge to the summit. We named our 860m line Discovery (M5-).
A few days later we were below the incredible north face of Svobodnaya Korea (Free Korea peak). In my opinion the finest and most logical lines are situated toward the left side of the wall. The Balezin route was put up in 2000 over a six-day period, largely using aid (A3). We made our attempt in light alpine style. We wanted to climb as fast as possible, so took little gear and no bivouac equipment. All that day and through the following night we progressed by mixed climbing and dry tooling. We completed the 1,070m route entirely free—the second overall ascent—at M6+. We were exhausted when we reached the summit.
During our few remaining days the weather got worse, but we wanted to climb one last route. We chose the northwest face of Baylyan Bashi, which lies on the ridge between Svobodnaya Korea and Korona at the head of the Ak-Sai Glacier. Our new line, which we called Long Way Home (700m, M5+), wasn’t so hard and took the right flank of the buttress followed by the 1985 Kuzmenko route (6A). It proved a fine end to the trip.
Sergey Dashkevich, Russia, supplied by Anna Piunova, mountain.ru, photo captions translated by Luca Calvi