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  Chapaeva and Khan Tengri behind a camp on Engilchek, by S. Garbutt  
 

 


Trekking in Kyrgyzstan - Kokshal-Too, Tengri-Tag, Meridionalniy and Sary Djaz Ranges

Also see, Trekking in Kyrgyzstan - Terskei Ala-Too and Kungei Ala-Too Ranges.

Trekking in Kyrgyzstan would be incomplete without the mention of the Kokshal-Too, Sary-Djaz, Meridionalniy, and Tengri-Tag ranges. These ranges have several traverses, passes, and peaks which cover all degrees of difficulty for the avid trekker, hiker and mountaineer who wishes to experience Kyrgyzstan Trekking. The Kokshal-Too range and the neighbouring Sary-Djaz mega-ridges and canyon, the Tengri-Tag range, and the Meridionalniy range in the Central Tien-Shan is known as the Arctic of Central Asia, or the Arctic of Tien-Shan, or as simply "Mustagh" or "Muztagh" which means cold. It is home to the coldest mountain in the world, the seven-thousander known as Peak-Pobedy (7440 metres, 24,400 feet). Pobedy is derived from Pobeda, which means victory in Russian, and here it refers to the victory of the USSR in the 'Great Patriotic War' or WW II. Two other Central Asian seven-thousanders have names with Soviet connotations; these are Peak Communism and Peak Lenin in the Zaalaiskiy Range in the Pamir. Another seven-thousander in the Tengri-Tag near the Sary-Djaz is Khan Tengri, which is called Kan-Too or Khan Tau in Kyrgyz, which means red mountain or bloody mountain. This is because Khan Tengri has a pink-red tinge in its colour. It also has a very sharp pyramid shaped peak. There is some debate about the correct height of Khan Tengri, which some people give as 6995 metres, and some as 7010 metres (22920 feet). If the first is correct, then Pobedy is the northernmost seven-thousander on the planet, not Khan Tengri.

Khan Tengri is a tough mountain to climb (toughest difficulty class according to the Soviet system), but it does not have any bad reputation for killing mountaineers. The most difficult part of the climb on this mountain is probably the (easy to win till now) lottery of the ice-fall early on. The broad Pobedy with its ridges shaped like the open arms of a vast humanoid creature, on the other hand, is often referred to by the name 'killer mountain'. As the name suggests, it has a very nasty reputation, and is attempted by only the very toughest mountaineers in the world, people who are out to prove something about themselves to themselves. The Kokshal-Too range has also got a large number of virgin five-thousanders. This is a very remote and inaccessible area on the border between Xinjiang and Kirgizia. It is considered as a natural defence for Kyrgyzstan and is given the title Kyrgyz Wall. It is almost two thousand kilometres in length and ends beyond the Irkeshtam region.

The highest mountain in main Kokshal-Too apart from Peak Pobedy is Peak Dankova (5982 metres). Other high peaks are Peak Schmidt (5940 metres), Peak Koroleva (5816 metres) and Peak Kyzyl Asker (5842 metres). There are several climbed and unclimbed five-thousanders in the Kokshal-Too. This includes the climbed Zenith and Chon-Tur Peaks and the unclimbed Grand Poobah Peak at 5607, and other unnamed unclimbed peaks of 5000 to 5650 metres. The region is slowly being explored and a couple of virgin five-thousander is conquered every year by teams from around the world, which still leaves dozens of peaks waiting for intrepid climbers. Conditions in this whole region are very extremely hostile, with temperatures reaching down to 60 degrees below zero in winter, and high velocity winds in the valleys and on the mountains. Three powerful helicopters lie broken near Inylchek glacier as testimony to the toughness of conditions here. It is perfectly feasible in the summer months of July and August (and to some extent September) to organise mountaineering expeditions or treks of groups consisting of very fit and experienced trekkers and mountaineers to this region, but it is totally inadvisable and even dangerous to make solo or improperly organised attempts. In general also, it is not a safe practice to go without an organised group or expedition to mountainous regions of any height, even down to 2000 metres (about 6500 feet)

There are many passes to which trekkers in Kyrgyzstan can go to in Kokshal-Too, for example Molodyozhniy Pass at 5330 metres with category of difficulty 3B between the Glacier Chon-Turasuu and the Glacier Grigorieva with a traverse along the glacier to the pass; Kitaiskiy K3 Pass at 5150 metres with category of difficulty 1A between glaciers Mushketova and Rudneva; the four passes collective at 4500 metres including Osypnoi Pass (category of difficulty 1B) between River Chon-Turasuu and River Chon-Tukuiryok near Peak Pritok, Moldova Karnizniy Pass with category of difficulty 2A between glaciers Chon-Turasuu and Kichine-Turasuu, P-1 Pass of category of difficulty 1B between the rivers of the same names as the previous pass, Chyorniy (Black) Pass of category of difficulty 2A between Glacier Kichine Turasuu and River Bezimyannaya (nameless). Others are Aitaliy Pass at 4320 metres with category of difficulty 1A between River Aitaliy and Glacier Mushketova, P-2 Pass at 4700 metres with category of difficulty 1A between Glacier Pritok, Glacier Nalivkina and Glacier Mushketova, Studentov Pass at 4900 metres with category of difficulty 2A between glaciers Nalivkina and Mushketova, Bulata Okudzhavi Pass at 4600 metres with category of difficulty 1A between eastern branch of Glacier Komarova and Glacier Mushketova, Metelniy Pass at 4600 metres with category of difficulty 1B between the eastern and central branches of Glacier Komarova, Solo-On-Underwood Pass at 4670 metres with category of difficulty 2A betweem River Kara-Germes (also known as River Ak-Sai) and the eastern branch of Glacier Komarova

The only notable trekkable pass in Meridionalniy Ridge is Krugozor Pass at 4230 metres with 1B category of difficulty, located between the Glacier Krugozor and Glacier Mramornoi Steni (Marble Walls). Trekking is done to this region relatively less often.

On the northern slopes of the Kokshal-Too Range there are some notable passes fit for trekking and mountaineering. They are relatively tough passes with higher than 2A category of difficulty. These include Dikiy Pass (Wild Pass) at 5500 metres altitude with 3A category of difficulty, and Diky North Pass at 4770 metres with 2A category of difficulty. Both these are located between the Glacier Dikiy and the Glacier Zvezdochka. Also notable are Proletarian Tourist Pass at 5000 metres with 3A category of difficulty and Chetiryokh Pass (Fourth Pass) at 4800 metres and 2B category of difficulty. Both these are located between Glacier Komsomolets and Glacier Proletarian Tourist. Another notable pass is Plato Schmidt Pass at 5300 metres with category of difficulty 3B located between the Glacier Komsomolets and Glacier Dikiy.

The Tengri-Tag ridge has the toughest passes in Kyrgyzstan for trekking. These are highly technical and more akin to mountaineering. Abalakova Pass 5800 metres has category of difficulty 3B and is located between Glacier Inylchek North and Glacier Inylchek South to the west of Peak Chapaeva. Bronenosets plus Miroshkina has category of difficulty 2A. Bronenosets plus Miroshkina plus Pervomaiskiy has category of difficulty 2B. Both are located between glaciers north Inylchek and South Inylchek near lake Merzbacher. Vertolyotniy Pass or Helicopter Pass at 5600 metres has category of difficulty 3B and is located between Glacier Sukhodolsk and Glacier Stvora. It is very tough for trekking, and few treks in Kyrgyzstan come here. Tyurina Pass, 5000 metres, 3B category of difficulty, is located beteween Glacier Zagrubskiy and Glacier Tyurina. Ulyanovskiy Pass 4800 metres, 3A category of difficulty is located between Glacier Sorokina and Glacier Inylchek South. Khan Tengri pass at 6100 metres (East) and 6000 metres (West) have category of diffculty 3B and are both located between North and South Inylchek Glaciers. Shater East 6700 metres and Shater West 6637 metres are also both category of difficulty 3B and are approached via Peak Chapaeva.

Sary-Djaz Range in the Muztagh area has a good mixture of medium to very tough passes, suited for trekking in Kyrgyzstan. Achik-Tash, 4050 metres, 1B category of difficulty, located between River Inylchek and River Tez. Volkov Nikolai Pass, 5500 metres altitude, 3B category of difficulty, is located between West Bayankolskiy and North Inylchek glaciers. Forgotten Pass, 2A category of difficulty, 4200 metres. Karliytau 5350m, 3A category of difficulty is tough for trekking. Korumlu Pass, 4100 metres, 1B category of difficulty, Lenin Klub Tourism LKT Pass, 5250 metres, 3A category of difficulty, Maibulak Pass, 3900 metres, 1B category of difficulty, Merzbacher Pass, 5100 metres, 3B category of difficulty, Marble Wall Pass, 6100 metres, 3B category of difficulty, Odessa Pass, 5100 metres, 3A degree of difficulty; Odinatsati Pass (Elevens Pass), 4850 metres, 2B degree of difficulty; Opasniy (Dangerous) Pass 5200 metres 3A degree of difficulty; Pablo Neruda Pass 4300 metres, 2B degree of difficulty; Panorama Pass, 5350 metres, 3A degree of difficulty; Pioneer Pass, 4700 metres altitude, 3B degree of difficulty is located between Mushketova and Northern Inylchek Glacier; Pyramid Pass, 5000 metres, 3A degree of difficulty is located between the same glaciers; Proletarian Press Pass, 4750 metres, 3B category of difficulty is also located between the same glaciers. Nikolai Roerich Pass, 4320 metres, 2B degree of difficulty is located between River Inylchek and River Tyuz, or alternatively between River Inylchek and River Achiktash. Snowy Staricase Pass 5000 metres, 3A degree of difficulty is located between Glaciers Mushketova and Northern Inylchek to the west of Peak Snowy Staircase (5155 metres). Middle Pass, 4300 metres, 2A degree of difficulty is located between the rivers Achiktash and Inylchek. Tez Pass, 4000 metres, 1A degree of difficulty is located between the rivers Inylchek and Sary-Djaz. Tomichei Pass, 4800 metres, 3B category of difficulty is located between Glacier Mushketova and Glacier North Inylchek. Tyuz Pass, 4000 metres, 1B category of difficulty is located between the rivers Tyuz and Inylchek. Chon-Tash Pass, 4000 metres, 2B category of difficulty is located between River Achiktash and River Inylchek. Shilun Yaroslavtsev Pass, 4300 metres, 2A degree of difficulty, is located between River Dzhail Magaldibulak and River Shilun.



 

 
updated on 24th May 2012
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