Ak-Su Valley, Various Ascents. An expedition made up of Davide Brambilla, Roberto Colombo, Stefano Elli, Federico Ferrari, Giovanni Isella and Massimiliano Pozzi, six alpinists between the ages of 23 and 29, sojourned in the valley of Ak-Su from July 28 to August 25, operating from basecamp at 2900 meters and respecting the rules of alpine style (no fixed ropes, no bolts). Accomplishments included the following: Ascent of Pik Domashnaya (3929 meters) via a 17-pitch climb (c. 800 meters) graded IV/V with parts at grade VI. (Evidence indicated the route had, at least in part, already been done.) Ascent of Pik Badigin (4866 meters) by the north face (600 meters, 40° snow and ice). Attempt of Pik Atabekov (4737 meters) by its northeast face, cut short after four pitches due to friable rock and rock fall. Attempt of Minor Iskander (4520 meters) by northeast face; after four pitches (250 meters, Grade II/III with a passage at IV), it was decided to back off because of falling rock from the snows below the summit and the presence of hanging seracs. Ascent of Little Makalu (5011 meters) by the north ridge (Grade III,1100 meters), the first traverse of the massif, accomplished by all members of the expedition. Ascent of Pik Domashnaya by the Black Wall route on the west face (500 meters, IV/VI with a VI+ section). First ascent of the Obelix route (Grade V, 190 meters) on the north face of the Aljuska Tower (proposed topographic name) at 3620 meters. First ascent of the Asterix route (180 meters, VI) on the north face of the Aljuska Tower. Ascent of the south-southeast Pillar of Pik Dostoevsky (4974 meters) (500 meters, IV-V+). Even if the pillar has already had a Russian ascent (as testified by the presence of rap slings), this particular route is still almost all original. The principal goal of the expedition, the ascent of Pik Blok by a new route on the west face, was not attempted since, after close observation of the approach and the proposed line of ascent, it was deemed possible only with high camps and fixed lines.
As this region has been opened to western expeditions only since 1991, route info and information on access to the valley is scarce (see article by P. Borgonovo in La Revista del CAI, March/April 1994). One is forced to move in an absence of reliable facts, above all in regard to the weather and the mode of approaches and technical difficulty of the alpine routes.
Roberto Montovani, Club Alpino Italiano