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NEW ROUTE ON INCREDIBLE ROCKY AK-SU
Posted on: September 11, 2006
The north face of Rocky Ak-Su, Pamir-Alai, Kyrgyzstan. The Ukrainians' new variation hooks into Pershin's previously climbed route at Camp VI, near the top of the buttress. [Photo] courtesy of www.mountain.ru
First opened to Soviets in 1982 and then to foreigners in 1990, the north face of Rocky Ak-Su (17,116') on the border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is serious business; it houses more than a dozen big-wall routes 6A and harder—all above 14,000 feet. In July and August, Vladimir Mogila, Taras Tsushko, Viarel Cheban and Alexander Lavrinenko (all of Ukraine's Odessa Alpine Club) added twenty new pitches to the righthand side of the face for a (mostly) independent A4 route. At Camp VI the new route linked into Pershin's Right Buttress Direct (6B, 1988). From there the party continued on twenty-four established pitches up the north ridge.
The new opening shot straight up the wall, carving a line between Troschinenko's Original North Face Route (6A, 1982) and Pershin's, mentioned above. In total, the team climbed 1700 meters to reach the summit.
No Westerners have ever tackled the precipitous north face directly, though Mick Fowler and Chris Watts climbed the north ridge in 1990, encountering a stout undertaking that left them both daunted and impressed by the local talent. While regional unrest disrupted climbing in the area in recent years—Americans Beth Rodden, Tommy Caldwell, John Dickey and Jason Smith were taken hostage by Islamic fundamentalists in the neighboring Ak-Su Valley in 2000—that threat seems to be in remission, and Western climbers have again begun to look at the two Ak-Su valleys with new eyes.
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