a climber's point of view, Pamir Alay first began to make a name for itself only
during the mid-eighties, when the Soviets, having realised its potential, decided
to stage their alpine climbing competitions there. The peculiar rules (the higher
the mountain or rock face, the more points it was worth) ensured that the climbers
hurled themselves at the base of enormous smooth granite blocks which, in some
cases, were ascended using a substantial amount of artificial aid.
Soviet climbers remained interested only in those peaks or rock faces worthy of
"points" and so, when in 1991 a French expedition entered the Ak-Su
valley, it discovered an incredible amount of unclimbed rock. Various expeditions
came to make their mark in the years that followed and now there are numerous
routes which find their way up these immense granite walls. It
is certain that even today unscaled walls and unclimbed peaks can easily be found
in this panoramic landscape. In many cases, the start of the routes are relatively
accessible from the valley floor, where the base camps are usually established.
problems connected with reaching the base of the route and transporting all the
climbing gear never reach "Himalayan" proportions, and long walk-ins
on glaciers are also rare.
logical lines of ascent can be created without needing to resort to haul bags,
intricate pulley systems and portaledges. But there are also smooth unclimbed
rock faces over 1000 meters high, long overhanging corners and never ending Yosemite-like
cracks just waiting to be ascended....
to the information available in situ, there are currently about 50 routes graded
between TD+ and ED+ (5b to 6b according to the Russian grading system). The following
peaks have been climbed either by Russian or Western parties: Akmatova (4810m),
Assan (4230m), Slesov (4240m), Kyrkchilta (4520m), Ortobek (3850m), Parus (5037m),
Blok (5239m), Iskander (5120m), Minor Iskander (4520m), Ptitsa (4490m) and Pyramidali
A guide to this region doesn't exist at present. Up to date
information, route descriptions and sketches can be obtained by contacting the
Club of Mountaineers and Rock climbers of Uzbekistan, Uzbek Republic, 700060 Tashkent,
Proletarskaj St. 33, tel. 3712672397, fax 564797