American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Mindzhar Valley: Pik 5,175m, Pik 5,390m, and Pik 5,414m

Kyrgyzstan, Pamir

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Oleg Silin
  • Climb Year: 2016
  • Publication Year: 2017

Before joining the estimated 1,000 climbers at base camp for Pik Lenin in August, we went by jeep to the next main valley west, the Mindzhar, where there were no mountaineers. At the head of this valley, the Mindzhar Glacier rises west to Mindzhar Pass (ca 5,050m). This pass has been visited or crossed by “mountain trekkers,” but there are strict rules that do not allow such “tourists” to climb to summits, so all the surrounding peaks have remained unclimbed. The highest unclimbed peak in this area, across the border in Tajikistan, is unnamed Pik 6,001m (39°18’46.52”N, 72°42’45.81”E). Immediately to the northeast of this peak lies Pik 6,130m, which was climbed in 2011.

Maksim Svoboda and I first camped on the Red Rocks ridge at 4,300m and then at 4,700m, and next day we arrived on Mindzhar Pass at around midday and pitched our tent on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. That afternoon we moved north along the frontier ridge and summited previously unclimbed Pik 5,157m (39°23’11.96”N, 72°36’38.22”E).

Next day we headed south along the ridge toward Pik 5,839m, which, first thing in the morning, when the weather was partially clear, looked like a Himalayan giant. We crossed Pik 5,390m, continued southwest over 5,414m (39°22’11.34N, 72°36’6.39”E), and descended the far side to MAI 50th Anniversary Pass. By now we could barely see each other at the end of 8m of rope, and after failing to find an onward route to 5,839m, we retreated to the tent. Next day we descended and subsequently drove back to Lenin base camp, where I summited the 7,134m peak, alone, for my sixth time.

– Oleg Silin, Latvia

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