Central Pamir seen from Alau Valley.
No climber is probably going to Asia or Kyrgyzstan with only Pik Petrovksi in mind. It's a small and easy peak located very close to Pik Lenin's BC at Achi-Tash. When decently acclimatized it can be climbed in a long day from BC. The first part of the climb is on loose gravel, alternatively a long walk on a ridge. When on the ridge, it's quite pleasent walking. The crux of the peak is where the ridge becomes a bit wider, but also rockier. There are some parts with easy scrambling. Most of the time the final part of the climb is a walk on snow.
The lower parts of the peak is in typically strong Pamiri colors. In this case the sand of red color is dominating and even though the peak's structure isn't dramatic, it's a nice mountain to look at.
The views from its summit is rewarding as you have a very good look at Pik Lenin
close by and many other Pamiri peaks at a distance. Petrovski is located on the northern side of the central Pamir range.
You may hear the locals refer to the peak as Petrovskogo.
Go to Kyrgyzstan. You probably end up in the capital; Bishkek.
Head south for Osh, the main city in the southern part of the country.
Continue to Sary Tash. To here you can make it with public transport, but after that you have to hitch. Most climbers has pre-arranged transport from either Osh or Bishkek.
When you arrive at the BC of Pik Lenin, you'll see Pik Petrovski on your right.
Long detailed version
The by far most common way to arrive in Kyrgyzstan is by air and a large majority land at Bishkek's Manas international airport. Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Dushanbe in Tajikistan also have airports with international connections. All these cities have companies or agencies which can arrange the red tape, transport etc.
Bishkek is well served by railway and the prices arriving from capital cities in Europe, usually via Moscow are very low, but travel times are long and the quite complicated visa regulations in Russia makes you think twice if it's worth the extra hassle.
For last minut shopping for provisions or gear, Osh is the only city of any size close to Pik Petrovski. Count on 6-8 hours travel(230km) in between Osh and BC.
Flying to Central Asia
The cheapest alternative is usually Pulkovo Airlines
, which serves Bishkek, Almaty, Tashkent, Dushanbe and Samarkand. Usually you have to overnight in St. Petersburg. Transfer hotel is paid by Pulkovo.
Some years back Aeroflot
was the given alternative, but nowadays their prices are not as good as for example Pulkovo.
Border (Taj/Kyr) statue
Getting There - From Kyrgyzstan
There are two main routes from Bishkek to the Pik Lenin area.
Via Toktogul and via Naryn.
Regardless of which route you choose, there are some high passes along the way and minor high altitude symptoms may occur.
National Highway 41 takes you first over the Töö-Ashuu Pass (3586m) to Toktogul which is roughly 300km from Bishkek. Beautiful mountainous scenery and pasturelands along the way. The next leg is a long gradual downhill to Osh via Jalalabad. Roughly 330km. Osh have one of Central Asia's largest markets and can be a nice place for a stop-over.
The leg to Sary-Tash is a scenic experience amongst a mix of green pasture lands, karst areas, high passes and finally the first views of the High Pamirs. Road conditions can in places be pretty rough and two switch-back passes have to be negotiated.
The ride from Sary-Tash is mostly over the huge grassy valley of Alau before it finally climbs up towards BC on a rough road.
A very busy stretch of industrial wastelands takes you east to the foothills of a small range and further to the shores of Ysyk Köl Lake. The 3000m Dolon pass give you great views of the lush countryside and probably it's here you first see nomads. After Naryn (360m out of Bishkek) the road condition deteriorates step by step and after Kazarman (560km from Bishkek) the rough climb up the steep 3100m Kaldama Pass can be a taxing and bone-shattering experience. The rest of the way to the lowlands and Jalalabad is an easy ride on many dozens of switchbacks. The rest of the way to Pik Lenin is the same as the above route via Toktogul.
Nomadic life in The Alau Valley
Getting There - From Tajikistan, Pamir Highway
Get a "Gorno Badakshan O.A. Permit" in Dushanbe. There is no public transport that goes all the way and a combination of mini-bus rides is the most common way of travelling. If you charter a vehicle for your group, be sure the driver knows the area. The Pamir Highway was long considered the most dangerous road in the world, but lately the situation has improved and there should be no danger travelling it nowadays.
After the first high pass (Khaburabot 3252m) the road drops into the beautiful Kalaikhum Valley. The road mostly follow the border river Pandzh and on the other side you can see the rugged landscape of Afghanistan. 550km out of Dushanbe you arrive in Khorog, the only city of any size before Murghab which is another 320km away. If you climb some hills after Khorog, you may be able too see the extremely spectacular peaks in the Shakhdarinskiy Range. Pik Karla Marksa and Pik Engels are the most prominent. Be sure you are acclimatized before leaving Khorog as the road will stay on a high altitude for a long time ahead.
Murghab is a small Kyrgyz settlement with a few hotels and when continuing north the highest pass en route is encountered. Ak-Baytal at 4655m give you great views of lots of high surrounding peaks.
You'll pass the deep blue Kara Kul Lake and this is the place from where you get your first glimpses of the Pik Lenin Massif. The border pass (Kyzyl Art) takes you down to the Alau Valley and Pik Lenin BC is less than an hour away.
Arriving from China (Irkestam Pass)
Getting There - From Tajikistan via Garm and Alau Valleys/A372
A much more direct route from Dushanbe to Pik Lenin is to travel via Dzhirgatal. You avoid the mountainous parts of Tajikistan and travel most of the way in valleys. The only negative aspect with this route is the local uprisings and ungoing blood feuds which have plagued the area since the dawn of time. Also here the situation has improved a lot lately and the road is now considered safe.
After 160km, just after Komsomolabad, you leave M41 and head for Dzhirgatal which is 140km away on A372. You cross the border to Kyrygzstan another 80-85 km away. You are now in the wide and open Alau Valley and the rest of the way to the turn-off to Pik Lenin BC is a beautiful, but bumpy ride.
Getting There - From Uzbekistan
The road from Tashkent to Qoqand/Kokand is mostly in good condition and there are lots of bus, mini-bus and shared-taxi alternatives. There are small border crossing at various places along the way east, but in order to avoid hassles with confused border guards who see a foreigner for the first time, aim for the main crossing at Andijan/Osh. Even this border crossing can be taxing as the Uzbek immigration (also the Kyrgyz, but to a muss lesser degree) sometimes really fish for "Schtraff"
. Schtraff - translation: Pocket money, fine, bribe, gift, penalty, give me your money, give me your gear etc.
As long as you know you have all documents in order, stand your ground and be adamant but polite.
The route is 400km easy ride to Osh.
Pik Lenin/Pik Petrovski BC.
Getting There - From China
There are two options:
From Kashgar/Kashi via Torugurt Pass or Irkestam Pass.
This option have some hassles attached. The road is going through a sensitive military zone on the Chinese side and special transport has to be arranged. This can be very expensive if talking to the "wrong" people.
A reliable contact in Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) is Steve Larson in the Caravan Café
. It's located next door to the Chinibagh Hotel. Steve and his partners run a little tourist company and can help you with all the arrangements for the Torugurt crossing.
is also run by the same people.
Usually, you pay for a trip all the way to Bishkek and with an overnight stay in Naryn. If you want to go straight to Pik Lenin and get the permits in Osh, make sure the travel agent knows about this before departure.
This pass was closed until year 2000, but now it's completely hassle-free.
If shooting for the Irkestam option, be sure you have bought everything you need before leaving Kashgar as you will not pass any settlements of size before arriving in Pik Lenin BC.
Transport to BC
From Osh to BC it's about $25 and so is the pick-up service cost from Irkestam Pass/China border.
Some years back the Kyrgyz government brought a brilliant idea forward;
No more permits for any peak in Kyrgyzstan!
All peaks are free to climb for anyone.
An official requirement is the border permit. Any climbing agent in Bishkek or Osh can help you out with this. The cost is $20 (2007).
I arrived directly from China without a border permit. I decided to take my chances and go for it without. No one checked me. I may have been lucky. If you want to play it safe - get the permit.
When To Climb
June to September.
The optimal period is usually in early August.
Hardcore climbers go to the area at any time of the year, but the cold season is grim.
The Pik Lenin graveyard
Kyrgyzstan is a country of nomads. There are tents and yurts everywhere and no one raise an eyebrow if you pitch your tent. If in doubt if it's ok to camp, ask.
I have never been denied.
At the BC of Pik Lenin/Pik Petrovski there are a lot of tents. Most of them are pitched in organized camps. You can pitch your own there for a small fee and it's much safer than pithing it elsewhere, as theft is common.
Theft from the Peak Lenin base camps
Unfortunately, theft is a problem both in Achi-Tach and in Onion Field. If your're with an organizer and stay in the actual BCs it's not so much to worry about, but still you better be a little bit careful. I don't want to point a finger in any direction in this case, but things disappear.
Camping on your own away from the BCs isn't a good idea unless someone is watching the tent at all times. The locals in the area is living a quite poor life and it seems like some of them can't resist the temptation looking into rich foreigners tents.
There's no reason to check the weather until you arrive in the area. When there, you'll have a lot of info available from the camp staff. They all have radio contact with meterological stations and also have good knowlede about the weather patterns in the area.
[img:224990:alignleft:small:The Pik Lenin graveyard]
On the way to Pik Petrovski, located on a small hill just below the north ridge you'll find the Pik Lenin graveyard. It's here the climbers who have died on the peaks in the area are buried. Unfortunately, there are way too many graves here.
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