|Page Type:||Trip Report|
|Lat/Lon:||41.33968°N / 76.33852°E|
|Date Climbed/Hiked:||Mar 4, 2016|
Every year, the world around us becomes smaller. Airliners, Internet, satellites have significantly reduced its size. In the past it would’ve taken a year to get to a place that now can be reached in a day. There are very few places on earth not studied thoroughly by inquisitive man. Once the images of the Earth's surface from space became available to anyone pioneering spirit slowly began to fade. Now people, traveling on the earth's surface and having accurate information, are no longer surprised by new horizons. They know what to expect – the novelty effect disappeared. However, there are still places on our beautiful planet not reached by the ubiquitous satellite lenses. In March 2016, micro-expedition out of two adventurous risk takers climbers headed to one of these places.
The idea to make the first ascent in Kyrgyzstan was born in our heads out of the blue.
Not long ago we discussed the idea of climbing in Siberia, and all of a sudden our thoughts zoomed off to Central Asia.
This change in the plans two weeks before the start forced us to spend the rest of the time in searching for the information about the area we were about to go. Because of little time left we had to seek help from people who have been in that area before. We are very thankful to Alexei Tsvetkov and Dmitry Suponnikov for the current information about that area. Because of them, we had started to realize where we are going and what to expect. We started stocking up with a bunch of Soviet time’s maps and minimum of climbing equipment for all possible cases. And then we began to realize that this expedition is not confined to the first ascent to the summit where one hasn’t been before.
We began to realize we have now several missions.
1) Research mission - research and the subsequent description of life conditions, customs and traditions of local shepherds who live far from big civilization.
2) Geographic mission - description of the two At-Bashi valley’summits, finding out the names and mapping the local mountains.
3) First ascent - climb to the summits one haven’t been before and describe the trip.
Our team, Ivan Braun from Denmark and Rustem Amirov from Russia, had a chance to be tested on similarity, teamwork, and emotional stability last year during winter ascent of Elbrus. We were on the same wavelength, like two musical instruments sounding in unison, not interrupting but complementing each other. I could have not wished for more: to have a buddy similar in spirit and as adventurous as me. We encouraged and helped each other throughout the trip, worked and rested together.
Path to the unknown.
Even during the preparation of the expedition, we have identified three possible area for our trip : one primary and two spare. Since we arrived in early March, it was impossible to drive to the main area and also to one of the spare area. Due to the large amounts of snow in the Bosogo Valley no cars, no horses could not help us to get there. We knew 70-80 km trip in the deep snow would eat all our reserved time. As a result we chose the only available option to us - the upper reaches of the valley between the ridges of the Naryn and At-Bashi.
The Lost World.
We have responded to very hospitable offer of the local shepherds to live with them in Kosh - shepherd’s hut. Kosh became an excellent base and a launching pad for big trips to the surrounding summits. During the tour, we lived with these people in the same house, we ate the same food, and watched their way of life and household work. Most importantly - we talked to them, although it was not very easy for all of us. Ivan speaks English, German, French, Italian and Afrikaans, I know Russian and English, but we both did not understand Kyrgyz. Local shepherds don’t know any languages other than their native language. Communication turned out very funny. I had one sheet with 20-25 words in Kyrgyz as a dictionary, that’s why we used facial expressions, gestures and drawings to communicate. It was fun.
Watching a simple, but very harsh life of shepherds and the valley as a whole, I have come to the conclusion: if cataclysm ever happens in the world, the locals, mountains, rivers, and valleys will not even notice it. The world can fall into the abyss, it may be World War.
When we got here, and began to live together with the shepherds, I had a feeling that I dipped into the past, 100-150 years ago. Life here is slow paced, the time step is different. The perception of life is more contemplative; people here look at the world through narrow slit eyes on dark-skinned faces.
There is a small paddock with canopies - for sheep and driving horses. Semi-wild yaks and meat and dairy horses spend the night in the open-air enclosure. The morning starts early in Kosh. Oddly enough, the first to wake up are men. Very early morning, still in the dark, shepherd put cattle to pasture, feed the newborn lambs, and perform a variety of work on the farm.
By sunrise, the men return to the house and heat up the stove with the dung (dried horse and yak manure). There is not much firewood, it is saved. Small spruce trees on mountain slopes can’t be cut down. This is followed by a special person. Then women wake up, clean beds, and cooked breakfast. Traditional shepherd’s food is bannock, jam, and lots of tea. Sometimes they cook potatoes with yak meat or manti - dumplings. The food is simple but very rich. It is not easy to prepare this simple food in local conditions. Women have to cook on the stove. It's a long process requiring constant attention. Fruits are very rare, but the meat is very popular. Shepherds do not cultivate the land, all their food, all their income - it is livestock. Herds are constantly looked after, so the wolves won’t attack, and are accompanied by the shepherds on driving horses.
Studying the old Soviet maps, I saw vague outlines of ridges, peaks without designation of heights and names, tentatively indicated riverbeds. But the main thing I saw in it was huge potential for first ascents .The reality surpassed all expectations. It tore off rose-colored glasses, presenting a completely different world. Maps we used turned out very exemplary and sometimes contradicted each other in detail.
It was decided to re-open the area, not particularly trusting our data. We could rely only on our own eyes, instincts, and intuition. The peak in the mountain range of At-Bashi, the closest to our Kosh, was chosen to become first summit in our ascents. We decided to carry out a preliminary exploration of accessway to the mountain.
At the same time we learned to ride a horse. «Climbers-cowboys» - called us ironically my partner Ivan. For both of us it was the first riding lesson in life. It’s very difficult if you aren’t used to it, but at the same time so excited that I felt like a hero of the movie Avatar. I could not figure out what my horse wanted and apparently our fillings were mutual. Looking ahead, I will say that after 4-5 days Ivan and I quite confidently managed horses without assistance.
Talking to the shepherds, we learned about the non-traditional climbing danger. In this area, there are a lot of winter flocks of wild wolves. This is a disaster for all living creatures. Initially we perceived information as a children's horror story or a joke.
The ridge is farther up. We have to go over the mountain ridge, scalding the small gendarmes (pinnacles) on it, or bypassing them on left.
Congratulations to each other. We are the first people on this top! Gadgets show height 4249 - 4250 meters (2.64 ml).
Our thermoses are already empty, so I pull out mini Hornet burner (the sponsor is Fire Maple) and few minutes later we get water out of snow. Now we are preparing water for the trip down at 4 pm. We hope to get down the mountain before 7 pm when it gets dark. We starting going down very carefully and don’t want to spoil such a great day.
Next few days after the first ascent we undertook reconnaissance radial riding trips. According to shepherds, metal triangulation marks were installed in Soviet times on top of two Naryn summits. But we couldn’t see anything even looking through binoculars; perhaps tripods were covered with snow. Shepherds assured us no one ever climbed the visible peaks of the At-Bashi Ridge Mountains.
During reconnaissance trips Ivan making a lot of pictures and I am sketching and noting local mountain names. There is almost no information on the maps we use. Occasionally you can find the designation of the altitude of the mountain passes and a pair of summits.
I talked head off shepherds with my questions, but wrote all the local names of mountains.
Now we are consolidating all the information we gathered to create the full picture of peaks and mountain passes of this beautiful valley for future travelers.
A bit of drama.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to do every day living in the big city.
Special thanks to sponsors provided part of the equipment for the expedition:
• Trekking sticks Masters, model Scout Red - excellent sticks with reliable locks. In the face of very tough operation, sticks had been perfect .
• Gas stove Fire Maple model Hornet - used during the ascent, the weight of only 45 grams. On the first ascent we took the thermoses and a supply of water, but route is very long. Good thing I took a gas stove "Hornet". Right on top of Kumdebe peak height of 4250 meters, where we were the first people, we used this gas stove to take water from the snow.
• Sleeping bag Alexika model Delta - was as always on top! Living in Kosh with shepherds away from the great civilization is very interesting, but not easy. I slept on the floor, on the karemat, and the sleeping bag, as always, allowed to feel comfortable in all conditions.
• Gas stove Fire Maple model Volcano - my favorite stove! Powerful, robust, allows food to cook quickly. We used them early in the morning, when we start. Shepherds cook on a metal furnace. The process of cooking in Aboriginal takes considerable time: 1.5-2 hours it takes to boil the kettle! At the end of the expedition, I presented to the shepherds this gas stove and all cartriges of gas.
You should have seen how happy they are. They have a very difficult life, a harsh, detached from the great civilization, I would make their life a little easier.
• Leggins Tasmanian Tiger - reliable and easy. Excellent protected roe from sharp climbing cats and horses' sides. During this expedition I had a lot riding on horseback at the approaches during the research part. At the very end of the descent from the mountain on the sharp stones were broken and lost the lower sling one of leggins. Not critical.