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Brits in Kyrgyzstan
Posted on: August 30, 2011
Richard Tremellen views Pik Emma (4783m), in the Djangart region of Kyrgyzstan, Emma was one of the two peaks Tremellen and Alexander Brighton made first ascents of while exploring the region. [Photo] Alexander Brighton
Between July 15 and August 10, Richard Tremellen and Alex Brighton made two first ascents, and a failed attempt on peak 5318, while climbing in the Djarngart region of Kyrgyzstan.
Alexander Brighton on the first ascent of Pik Laetita (4940m). [Photo] Alexander Brighton
"The unknown presented as much of a challenge as anything we would face on the mountains themselves." Brighton and Tremellen were awed by the beauty of the remote valley. Like Bas van der Smeede and Kristoffer Szilas, Brighton and Tremellen were inspired by Matt Traver and Mike Royer's trip report from the Djangart last year. The British climbers were turned back from their objective of the highest point by a thirty-six hour snow storm that caused avalanches and forced them down. The striking appearance of some of the other peaks though led to adventures and difficulties on two new summits, Pik Laetitia (4940m) and Pik Emma (4783m). Brighton writes, " Leti (Laetitia) and I got married just four weeks before I left for the expedition and we haven't had chance to go on honeymoon yet, so I suppose she was owed a romantic gesture!".
Brighton reports that the rock quality on the North Ridge of Peak Emma (AD) was poor. They descended a gully on the west face that they described as both difficult and dangerous. "Whilst the ridge line was beautiful, both our ascent and descent lines were on poor rock and did not make for enjoyable climbing." They bivyed just short of the summit due to soft snow and completed the climb on July 22.
Their route up Peak Laetitia they christened "The Phoenix" as it was completed "after our initial failure and we graded it at TD due to the difficulties of the final face." It consists of snow, rock and mixed climbing. The route leaves from the Kaichi valley and ascends the couloir on the southwest flank and finishes on the steep northwest face. They reached the summit on August 5.
Brighton and Tremellen climbed the peaks in alpine style. Without horses to help bring their gear into a higher base camp, they were a two day trek from the peaks. "With base camp being two arduous days walk away from the highest mountains and long slogs up moraines being a necessity, time on the mountain was limited by carrying only alpine style quantities of supplies." Both agreed though that this kind of expedition would have been worthwhile even if they had not established the two new lines that they did; they left Krygyzstan proud of their accomplishments. "It is here, in a land of no guide books, no telephriques and no assurances that both experience and the experience count more than anything else."
Pik Laetita as seen during the pair's two day approach hike. [Photo] Alexander Brighton
Source: Alexander Brighton