Piks Kongsberg (4,468m), Resilience (4,447m), Majulah (5,152m)
Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tien Shan, Adyrtor Mountains
From August 2–19, 2009, David Lim, Mohd Rozani bin Maarof, and Grant Rawlinson, forming the “Spirit of Singapore Climbing Expedition,” traveled to an area loosely known as the Adyrtor Mountains, just north of the famous Inylchek glaciers. We drove from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Karakara Base Camp (2,000m) and were then helicoptered 90km by a Kyrgyz Army MI-8 to the Mushketova Glacier, where we established our own base camp at 3,950m.
After two-and-a-half days of reconnaissance and acclimatization, we chose our first objective, an unnamed and unclimbed peak on the watershed ridge north of the glacier, marked as 4,468m on our large scale map to the region. On the 7th we climbed seven hours up rock and scree to a broad, snowy ridge, which we followed to the top. We named it Kongsberg Peak (42°18'47.2" N, 79°57'45.0" E, 4,551m GPS, Alpine F) in honor of our premier expedition partner. The Kazakhstan Mountaineering Federation believes this peak to be unclimbed, as were all the peaks we shortlisted in the upper Mushketova. The exception was Pk. 5,153m, which had been heliskied but not actually climbed. No evidence of any previous parties was found except for a few candy wrappers on the moraine.
Three–five km east and northeast of Kongsberg lie three peaks first climbed in 2005 by the Singapore Maccoffee Expedition and also led by David Lim: Ong Teng Cheong Peak on the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border (4,763m), Temasek, and Singapura I (4,550m).
On the 9th we made an attempt on Pk. 5,153m but turned back at ca 4,250m due to avalanche danger. The next day Lim and Rawlinson climbed for seven hours to a previously virgin summit (PD-, 42°18'57.7" N, 79°56'08.1" E, 4,447m map, 4,457m GPS), west of Kongsberg.
The ascent was particularly satisfying due to the extreme weather and exposed third-class scrambling over steep, loose rock. It was energy sapping and very difficult for Lim, who is partially disabled by Guillain-Barre Syndrome. His right leg no longer works below the knee, but it hasn’t stopped him from making more than 32 climbs since his disability in 1998. The summit was named Resilience Peak in respect of the determination Lim needed to reach the top.
Finally, on the 13th and in gradually worsening weather, we made a last attempt to climb a mountain over 5,000m. Shown on the map as 5,152m, and lying between the Mushketova and North Inylchek, it required three days of reconnaissance and much “discussion” before we agreed on a relatively safe route up the northeast face and onto the long north ridge. After a cold 3:30 a.m. start, we climbed strongly up the glacial headwall and onto the ridge, where the snow was heart-breaking soft. At times we sunk to our waists. It took seven hours in high wind to reach the summit. This was definitely the hardest ascent of the trip, with strong winds and a snowstorm reducing visibility (sometimes to 20m), and wiping out our tracks for the four-hour descent. We picked our way carefully down the long ridge and rappelled some sections before winding through a mass of crevasses along the Mushketova glacier to regain base camp, 13 hours after leaving. We recovered after many brews of tea, mouthfuls of dried Kazakh horse meat, and muesli bars. We named the peak Majulah (PD+, 42°16'19.9" N, 79°56'52.2" E, 5,174m GPS), a Malay word meaning “onward,” or “forge ahead.” All GPS heights are uncorrected, and we estimate errors of between +/- 20m.
David Lim and Grant Rawlinson, Republic of Singapore