Asan-Usen region (map).


1000 years of Baptism's Russia
In the Kyrgyz language "Asan" and "Usen" are the names that designate "twins," the appellative given to the two incredible granite peaks that rise up at a fourteen hours' walk east of the Aksu valley. This is also the name of the entire wild and untouched region that marks the borderline between Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Asan-Usen was discovered from a mountaineering point of view only at the end of the 1980s, after the Soviet Alpinist Championship was held here in 1986. Today, together with the Aksu area, it is considered a veritable paradise for mountain climbers.
(In the foto to the left) 1000 years of Baptism' Russia North face.
Aksu region is situated only one day walk through two passes from not less interesting regions, such as Sabakh to the west and Asan-Usen to the east. We can not miss a chance to watch on them and Aktiubek pass (4383 m) that looks in front of our base camp is inviting us to go. Mountain treks, coming over the cliffs, untouched nature, vertical rock walls around with many meters in height wanderfull water falls and completely croudless five us a pleasure of travelling. Coming down to the valey Aktiubek in evening, we making a fire, sitting comfortably around.
We hear some noise, coming from the distance, that after being clouser becomes hoof's clatter and plaintive monotonous song. Already not yang kirgiz, but firmly sitting in the saddle, appeared from the trek turn. Panorama 1000 years - 4810 - Asan
We welcome him with a bow, inviting to joint us. Till the time he is trying to surprise us with special meat, preparing in the fire and smoke of archa-tree, we find out what he is doing here: "I am looking for gold-bearing mines", - he says.
(In the foto of both sides) Panorama of 1000 Years of Baptism' Russia (left) - peak 4810 (center) and Asan (right) in the darknes.
The night is coming around imperceptiblly, immersing huge rock bastions in a scilence of darkness, that only by chance disturbed by the howling of lonely jackal. It is only flame of fire that he is frightened of and additionally with kirgizian story, coming deeply with their roots back to a legend ages.
"It was long long ago. By that time an old man leaved in lockal mountains and he has two twins sons. He named them Asan and Usen. He brought them up and trained as good warriors and was very happy with them.What else the old man needs to meet worthy his old age? But the war has came and the both sons died. And then this old man completely mad with his sorrow rose his hands up and called to Allah. "Oh all-powerful Allah. You give us our lifes, and You take them back. Please, give me back my sons and my life in return for. Let it be!" And the land around was broken with earth-brake and hihj mountans stands up in this place, rising up to the heaven. The whole age has passed from that time, but people still name two rock cliff bastions, standing in front of each other in upper part of river Karavshin with the names of twins Asan (4230 m) and Usen (4378 m), and further in the distance there is white peramida of Piramidalniy peak (5509 m) with blue heaven of background, that local men name as Tiubek - "the old man", and it's really reminds with its shape a gray headed old man." 4810 peak
(In the foto to the right) The North face of 4810 peak in the clouds duting the sun set.
The next morning with the first sun light we are standing already on the Karasy pass, admiring with the opend panorama around of allmost all Asan-Usen region. Standing in one line hage bastions with North- west faces of Kotin peak (4521 m), 1000 years of Russia baptism peak (4507 m), and "4810" peak towering little bit behind, as if making a way for 1000 meter smooth almost vertical face of Asan peak in the foreground, that like a palm, pointed vertically up to the sky, makes to feel some trembling even experience climber.
The peculiar features for the North-West Asan' face are high steepness, minimum of microrelief with only a few crags and clings and sometimes even with their abcence. There are a lot of cornices and overhanging all face long, but there is no water. You can meat with a few ice inside deep chimneys in upper part and cornices. Tipicaly groups take with themself on the route till 30 liter of water. All face practically safe from stone fall and the prinsipal its part is covering weith the sun light only before 2 p.m.
It's splendid view down beneath the green valley of Kara-Su river with archa-trees place, where usually makes a bace camp in the altitude of 2700 m high. There are a lot of half-wild yaks not far from this place, that runs fast around and look on the men coming up like furious dogs, flashing with their. peak Slesov
Asan-Usen region is situated 120 km to south from Khodzhent city where better use helicopter to get from. It is rather wild world of rock towering bastions with impressive contours look like Patagonia region in South America or Trango Tower in Karakoram. This region even at the present time not explored good enough and has unclimbed rock faces and even peaks.
(In the foto to the right) Peak Slesova North face (4,240 m) - one of the dizzying spires that rise up in the Asan-Usen region.
(In the foto to the left) Peak Slesova North face (4,240 m) - climbing the face
peak Slesov
Among a lot of rock towers Asan peak, peak 4810, Slesov's peak could be mentioned as the most prestige and extremely difficult for climbing.

Mt.Asan (4230 m) North face.

Mt. Asan

(In the foto to the right) The North - Western face of Asan peak.
Extremely difficult and beautiful routes, some of which require up to seven days of climbing, have been opened on the fantastic, high-quality granite peaks shot through with vertical cracks and chimneys. Though only fourteen peaks have been climbed so far, there are fourteen routes rated 6A, eight rated 6B, and ten rated 3B, Three routes on the northwestern face of Mt. Asan were awarded first prize at the Soviet Alpinist Championship: the V. Alperin (3B), A. Pogorelov (6A) and N. Timofeev (6B).
The Alperin Route to Asan Peak (4,230 m, 5B)
Though this is the easiest way up the northwestern face of Asan, it is still rated 5B. The route winds up the right-hand part of the face and requires ten pitches, about 450 meters of extremely difficult climbing up cracks. The first and second part of the route, on the other hand, consist of very wide chimneys. The entire route can be climbed in free style, without using rope ladders, but it is best to tackle the other routes up Asan or the more difficult ones up 4810 Peak as a preliminary test.

(In the foto to the left) Peak 4810 in profile, seen from 1000 years Baptism's Russia peak.
In 1987, two teams from Odessa and Leningrad used mules to transport gear and food up to the base camp and then climbed the remote northern face of Piramidalniy Peak, the highest in the region (5,509 m).
In 1988 four new routes were opened on the right-hand part of the northwestern face of 4810 Peak, an extraordinarv granite tower. However, the central part of this face has not been conquered for a long time; the numerous attempts made so far have been unsuccessful because of the extreme danger of the face, which when it rains or the the snow melts, is soon overflowing with swiftly running torrents that in the past have swept away many a rope team.

4810 peak North face.
The A. Voronov Route on 4810 Peak (6B)
(In the foto to the right) Climbing the "mirror" of peak 4810.
"We spent eight days on this face. We managed to climb up four pitches a day (160-200 meters). Given the distance between the bivouacs, every other evening we had to go down to the preceding bivouac because we managed to reach the following one only the next evening. So we spent two nights in every bivouac, which consisted of han^in^ hammocks, except for the last stop before the summit, because the upper part of the route (200 m) is less difficult and you can free climb it along, fissures and chimneys. "We got past the first eig,ht pitches byfree climbing through the small cornices and we bivouacked before reaching the last large cornice. Then we began to go up, hammering expansion bolts every five meters. The middle section of the face,
"The Mirror," is 400 meters high and virtually vertical. Here we employed different techniques, including the pendulum, which helped us to manoeuvre and choose the most logical route. It was easy to get orientated on the Mirror, because in its upper part a large cornice, the "Red Eye, " was always visible; we set up one of our bivouacs under it. "for the last 300-3.50 meters we managed to go up vertically by means of a "direct route" that led us right to the top. We descended via the northern ridge to the col - 54 rappels! "One feature of the face is its total lack of water, so that you have to take the necessary amount along with you. After heavy rainfall or snowfall, however, a veritable river flows over the rock face. When the temperature rises the snow melts, creating violent torrents that sweep away everything in their path, including the tents, so that it is impossible lo use expansion bolts and climb up without belaying. The only way out is to rappel.
"The same is true of the eastern face of the mountain, lhe central part of which has not yet been climbed, as the many attempts have all failed because ofhad weather and snow. "
I. Samoilenko

peak Asan
(In the foto to the right) peak Asan, seen from the base camp with Piramidalniy peak on the back front.
The Route up Zhioltaya Stena ("Yellow Wall", 3.800 m)
From the Kara-Su base camp the steep eastern face of Mt. Zhioltaya Stena rises up to the southwest with the Kara-Su massif (5,309 m) in the background. A path goes around the face, passes over lovely waterfalls and leads to the summit in three or four hours. This stunning vantage point has a commanding view of all the most beautiful mountains in the region: 4810 Peak, the northern face of Mt. Asan (4,230 m), the "Thousand Years of the Baptism of Russia" (1000 Let) peak (4,507 m), and Kotin Peak. The descent takes about two hours. peak 3850

The approach to the region is quite long but the fascinating views are well worth your while. The trip from Khodzhent to the village of Vorukh can be made by car. From here you must go on foot along the path that follows the course of the Karavshin river for forty-five kilometers in splendid and unspoiled natural surroundings that are virtually unpopulated. The Karavshin base camp (1700 m) is at the source of the river, on a large grassy plateau covered with bushes.

Copyright © 1993-98 Vladimir Kopylov. All Rights Reserved.

Special Thanks to Russian Mountaineering Federation and personally to Mr. Vladimir N. Shataev and Mr. Ivan Samoylenko.
To be continued...