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Asia, Commonwealth of Independent States, Kyrgyzstan, Chon-Turasu Valley, Attempt on Koroleva and Ascent of Molodezhnyi

Chon-Turasu Valley, attempt on Koroleva and ascent of Molodezhnyi. In August I climbed with Graham Holden in the Chon-Turasu Valley of the Western Kokshaal-Too. We reached our 3300m base camp by Ural Truck in a problem- free three-day drive from Bishkek. We intended to climb new routes on Pik Dankova (5982m) or Pik Chon-Turasu (5728m), but a reconnaissance showed the lines on the east side to be rather serious, so we switched to the southeast ridge of Pik Koroleva (5816m) via Pik Tsandera (ca 5400m).

We acclimatized by attempting unclimbed Pik ca 5400m south of Pik Alpinist, turning back on the convoluted summit ridge in deteriorating weather. We were then confined to camp for several days as heavy snow fell in the mountains. As the weather cleared on August 17 we waded through the fresh snow to make a determined attempt on Pik Koroleva. We endured two stormy nights on the high col at the base of Pik Tsandera before continuing up enjoyable mixed climbing on the ridge. Despite the lowly 4A grade given to this ridge on its 1969 first ascent, we were brought to an abrupt halt by a loose rock tower at ca 5150m. As a consolation, on August 22 we made the first British ascent of Pik Molodezhnyi (5338m), via the northeast ridge.

During our stay we met two teams from the Moscow Railway Institute, one having trekked over passes and the other having unsuccessfully attempted piks Dankova and Chon-Turasu. Both teams planned to walk over the Borkoldoy Massif to Kara-Sai.

Potential new routes remain in the Chon-Turasu area, but many (including the outstanding 2,000-meter-high east rib of Pik Koroleva) are more committing than existing lines.

Paul Knott, United Kingdom