Pik Kasparov, North Face, New Route; Pik Dostuk, North Spur and East Ridge
Kyrgyzstan, Central Kokshaal-too, Djangart Range
In 2015, Christoph Wolter and I visited the Djangart, driving from Bishkek to the western end of the range. We found that it is possible to get more or less everything in Bishkek needed for an expedition (except proper mountaineering equipment)—even drones for filming! However, make sure to request the permit via your agency at least four to six weeks before arrival.
Using three horses, we crossed Djangart Pass and on August 11 reached a base camp on the south side of the main river. Although we had initially planned to attempt difficult mixed routes, we quickly realized that the mountains were very dry.
On August 12 we went up the Akunguz Valley, immediately south of our base camp, and spent the night just before the glacier. On the 14th, after an acclimatization day at our high camp, we climbed a new route on Pik Kasparov (4,822m, 41°39'0.35"N, 78°57'47.31"E). This summit was first climbed by George Cave, Clay Conlon, Ross Davidson, and Harry Kingston from a 2013 British expedition (AAJ 2014). The four climbed the right side of the north face to reach the west ridge, then traversed the mountain, descending the northeast ridge and far left side of the north flank back to the glacier.
We climbed a direct route up the north face. Above the bergschrund was a section of 70°, then it was comfortable 60° névé to reach the last section of the west ridge. We called the route Now We Have the Salad (500m, 70°), a translation from a German saying which for us meant, “Now we are really here and have done our first route, let’s see what will happen next.” We regained base camp the same day.
The peak immediately to the north-northeast of Pik Kasparov, called Pik Dostuk (4,911m), was unclimbed. We approached it via the next valley to the east, which holds the N1 Glacier. From here, on August 18, we climbed the north spur and upper east ridge, beginning at around 4,300m. The route had sections of 80° ice. We rappelled from Abalakov anchors down the huge snow/ice face to the right of our line, and named our route Is There Anybody Out There?
There are still a few unclimbed peaks in this area, particularly in the eastern section. As conditions were super-dry during our stay, we didn’t see many striking ice lines, but there is potential in different conditions. The rock was generally good on our climbs, but if you are after a pure rock route, only the flanks of Pik After You looked interesting to us. Temperatures at base camp were around 30°C in the day but dropped as low as -10°C at night. We had a satellite phone but found we were only able to call for four minutes before the connection dropped. After waiting for a couple of minutes we were able to call again...for four more minutes.
– Lorin Etzel, Germany
2019 Ascent of Pik Dostuk: The elegant German line on the north spur of Pik Dostuk was repeated in September 2019 by the Dutch team of Frank Chargois, Mike van Berkel, and Cas van de Gevel, believing they were making the first ascent of the mountain. They descended the northwest ridge and northeast slope to regain their high camp at 4,150m on the N1 Glacier after a 16-hour day. The range was much snowier than in 2015, and conditions in the 80° couloir were perfect, with good placements in soft ice and black ice underneath in which to place solid screws. On the summit ridge they had to negotiate a tricky rock slab covered with powder. On top, their Garmin recorded 4,947m, 41.662873N, 78.961810E, and they rated their 600m ascent IV/4 3a.