Aksu region in Pamiro-Alai (map).


Situated about 120 km south of the city of Khodzhent, the Aksu region is truly extraordinary with its beautiful unspoiled nature and exceptional mountains. These are vertical rock peaks of compact granite, with faces more than 1,500 meters high that are often more than 5,000 meters above sea level: Mt. Aksu (5,355 m), first climbed by Leonid Troshchinenko in 1982 along the northern face; Mt. Alexander Blok (5,239 m), where Sergei Efimov opened a new 6-rated route in 1983 up the northern face; Petrogradets (5,163 m), lskander (5,120 m) and Admiralteets (5,090 m). The area was first explored in 1982, when, during a helicopter reconnaissance made to determine the conditions of the glaciers and snowficids, it was decided to examine the highest mountains in the Turkestanskiy range more closely. On passing over the Liayliak river valley, the mountaineers were amazed by the sheer verticality of the northern face of the barren Aksu triangle that dominated the other 5,000 meter peaks in the region. This area was therefore chosen as the site of the 1983 Soviet Alpinist Championship, which led to its becoming well-known as an extremely interesting mountaineering region. Most of the routes, which have been opened in the last ten years, follow cracks and chimneys that are often blocked by ice. At times the difficulty of the climbs reduces the average pace to 80-100 meters per day, and this is aggravated by the fact that you must take along the bivouac gear and food for ten to fifteen days up to the top.
In 1983 the Alai alpine camp was established along the green banks of the Aksu river (in Kyrgyz "Aksu" means "pure waters") at 2,800 m above sea level; it is connected to the town of Khodzhent by means of a practicable road. The lovely valleys and easily accessible passes in this region make it an ideal spot for hiking and horseback riding as well. A very pleasant route, from which you can admire the barren faces of Mt. Aksu, starts at the base camp. Head east and go up the Aksu valley through a thick forest (I hour 30 minutes); after arriving at the moraine (30 minutes), continue on the Aksu glacier for about two hours. Here you are rewarded with a magnificent view of the northern face of northern Aksu. Keep to the left and in less than an hour you will reach an easy rock slope that leads to the summit of a mountain (1-2 hours) 4,200 meters high from which you can see the eastern slope of Mt. Alexander Blok, the northern part of Mt. Aksu, and Mt. lskander.


(In the foto to the right) Aleksander Block peak in the sun set.
Aksu region of the gorge Liayliak, situated in the centre of Turkestanskiy range in Pamiro-Alai mountain system which is situated around 120 km to south from Khodzhent town. It has a special interest that attracts the climbers during the last 15 years with the similar rock face relief as in famous El-Capitan but even 500 meters higher. As usual the weather of the region is warm enough and stable, but some times a terrible storm can cover all region with a lot of fresh snow during only a few hours. The routes come basically along faces of rocks about 1000 - 1500 meters high and demands from the climbers very good ability of rock climbing. The rocks are very smooth and composed of huge stone blocks with a few clings for free climbing and crags for belay.
A. Block peak
(In the foto to the right) Climbing over the "Book" in Bashkirov's route in North face of Aleksander Block peak
(In the foto to the right) Climbing with fixed rope in Aleksander Block peak.
Usually all routes are coming along vertical crags and chimneys, that some times are filled with snow and ice. There are a lot of cornices and pendulums to overcome. It is necessary to use all technical equipment for climbing and belay, such as various pitons, stoppers, camalots, specially "friends" comes very good, sky-hooks and so on. A speed of climbing could be limited only within 100-200 meters high during the day.
The base camp is situated in the level of 2800 meters high near to Aksu river stream, that from Kirgisian means "clean water", with the fascinated view over triangle rock face of Aksu group, which burning in gold during the sunset over the darkness of narrow gorge.
climbing in the book fixed rope
Mt. Aksu - Admiralteets.
(In the foto to the right) Coming up Aksu valley with the North face of Mt. Aksu granduer in the back front.
North peak of Mt. Aksu (5217 m) is original dominant of all this region, distinguished with its 1500 meters almost smooth vertical North face in a form of rock pointed up triangle, that only opens splendid Aksu's "shoe", which is composed also by 1000 meters rock bastions of Mt. Iskander (5120 m) - Petrogradets peak (5163 m) - Admiralteets (5090 m) peak with its famous "Pillar" and also standing in a distance A. Block (5239 m) peak with its dramatically rising up 1000 m North face. Climbing here is a really serious test for your expertness.
coming to Mt. Aksu
Mt. Aksu - routes.
(In the foto to the right) Its Honour - the North face of Mt. Aksu.
One of the most classical 6A degree extra route and rather safe from stone fall is Leonid Troschinenko's one along the right bastion. After the huge rock stone named "Utiug" (Iron), there are two splits of I-st and II-nd "Integrals" with shock stones in a form of "pancake". It's rather easy orientation along this route, as it has some logical relief for self orientation during 1000 meters approximate 75 degrees steep bastion. Left bastion route - 6A, first climbed by Vladimir Kavunenko has the same climbing difficulty as previous one, but with rather poor micro relief. The "key" part is central "mirror", 300 meters vertical granite pillar with overhanging and a few crags to climb. Central part of Aksu North face is a kind of gutter, that collects all mass of stones, ice and water, which are falling down the face. This part should be climbed within morning time before midday to be safe and sound. This Central part, climbed first time by V. Popov (6B) is very difficult and tension for climbing and takes about 10 days - that is the reason it was repeated only three - four times. A huge ice very steep coloir, that begins in the centre of the face and comes to the summit of right rock bastion presents another 6A extra route, climbed first by A. Moshnikov. It's here that you can combine extreme ice and rock climbing together. It's like peculiar "forge of Soviet Union Heroes". .
Mt. Aksu North face
Alexander Block (5239 m) peak. Western face.
(In the foto to the right) Aleksander Block peak seen from Admiralteets peak.
Alexander Block (5239 m) peak is situated in Aksu region. The most famous North face of this groups attracts a lot of climbers to try their ability in very extreme conditions. During the 1983 Soviet Championship Sergey Efimov opened the first route on this face that goes up vertically along the central bastion, which is rated 6A extra not only because of the difficulties of climbing up smooth vertical rocks, but also because of the rigid microclimate on the northern face. In the morning the rocks were covered with a very thin layer of ice; in the afternoon, torrents of water gushed out of them.
A. Block peak
Alexander Block (5239 m) peak. North face.
(In the foto to the right) The North face of Aleksander Block peak .
There is "golden" route along Central bastion begins from left side the gallery of routes of North face first climbed by Sergey Efimov in 1983, who became a peculiar "Maestro" of Russian mountaineering, who was the winner five times one after another in various Soviet Union mountaineering Championship. Unusual monolith block relief with gigantic inside corner in low part of the route, coming up with overhanging and then smooth rocks pouring with frozen ice. In upper part there are vertical couloir, series of cornices and vertical monolithic stones. All these features makes this combined 6A difficulty route very interesting for climbing, especially in the conditions of North face micro climate. The snow in the middle of the face is melting in the midday, pouring climbers with showers, and are frozen in the morning, covering the rocks with the icy crust.
Then little bit to the right there is the route of Vladimir Bashkirov along the "pillar" of North face with vertical part of 800 meters high -5B. Lower part of the route is bitten by the falling ice from the right side in the second part of daytime, that crash we hear even from the distance, so it obviously danger to spend a night here. A peculiar feature of this route is that it has high technical difficulties all face long with absence of any places where it is possible to get rest. The route begins from so called "finger", that forms giant inside corner, very strength for free climbing. The low part of "mirror" and also exit from so called "book" to left side are next problem parts, which are completely smooth without any crags. It is good idea to use pendulum to speed up horizontal traverse .
A. Block peak
Logical Aygistov's route - 5B - begins from bergshrund along the steep ice slope to the direction of narrow ice gutter, where there is no way out from. It comes over cornice arriving to the middle part of giant rocky "banana", where overhanging stones are covered with thin ice. After along difficult inside corner necessary to get to "red face" and then finally to summit crest. There are no any normal places for bivouac to place tent to sleep in. It takes about four days to climb up.
(In the foto to the right) Coming up to Aleksander Block peak .
Further to right there is Evgeny Klinetskiy' route coming up along directisima over the bastion, that has some advantages, such as stone fall dangerless, monolithic, logical relief with combination of various inside corners and chimneys, filled with snow and ice, with a lot of overhanging parts and only a few shelfs for good relaxation. It has peculiar low part of two steep icy belts with a huge cornice between them. .
A. Block peak
Mt. Iskander.
"Pillar" of Mt. Iskander.
Mt. Small Iskander.
(In the foto to the right) Mt. Iskander and Petrogradets, seen from Aleksander Block peak.
Leaving to the back Aksu face, we are pleased to look over all "horse-shoe" with dominating of sharp pointed North Iskander peak (5000 m), with the route of V. Bashkirov 5B along North-East face, coming up along the series of vertical crags and is extremely interesting for free climbing, that we can easily see. South face of Iskander group - almost vertical monolith rocks, with the only shelf, looking like a bird, in the centre, where from it is better to make a development of the upside part of the rock face, climbing for example along the centre by V. Grischenko route - 6A. All foreigners visiting this region as usual prefer to climb Small Iskander (4520 m), that presents two route 5A degree - left or right one, which could be climbed up and down within one day long, spending a night before under overhanging huge stone to be safe from any stone fall. .
Mt. Iskander and Petrogradets
"Pillar" of Mt. Admiralteets.
(In the foto to the right) Mt. Iskander (right) and Admiralteets (left) seen from Aleksander Block peak.
It looks like a "small Elf" compared with Aksu giant, looking from the distance, the "pillar" of Admiralteets proved to be 800 meters vertical monolith monument, inspiring the climber with the feeling of at least the respect and trembling. 6A degree route begins from the wide shelf coming to the face from right side and further along the centre by vertical crag, which time by time is filled with snow and ice. There is no other variants to choose by the smooth "mirrors" around. .
Mt. Admiralteets and Iskander
Third speedy Russian chempionship in Mountaineering in Aksu region.

To be continued...