Northern Tien-Shan (map)
The Zaaliyskiy Alatau range lies in the northeastern sector of the Tien Shan mountain system. It is the southern backdrop of the verdant capital of Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata, whose name means "mother of apples." Though only forty kilometers from the city, like most of the Tien Shan mountains this range is also relatively isolated and quite undeveloped; next to zones with sporting facilities, such as the Medeo stadium, there arc valleys such as Bol-shoe Almaatinskoe and Aksayskoe with peaks that still have not been climbed. The natural setting here is unspoiled and quite lovely. The meadows are filled with irises and wild tulips, and many rare animals such as snow leopards, wolves, mountain lynxes and golden eagles live in the mountains. The Malo Almaatinskoe valley, on the other hand, is more frequented, especially by skiers, who frequent the Chimbulak ski resort which provides ski lifts that go up to 3,200 m. This valley, which can be reached easily from Alma-Ata, leads to the Tuyuk-Su (4,218 m), Pogrebetskogo (4,219 m), Molodiozhnaya (4,147 m) and Komsomola (4,376 m) peaks. Here there are routes, which can also be done on skis, with lovely panoramic views; their starting point is the well organised Molodiozhnaya meteorological station at 3,438 meters above sea level. The climb up Talgar, the tallest peak in the region (4,973 m), which lies northeast, is more difficult. The base of this mountain can be reached by helicopter or via a practicable road and a twelve-kilometre walk. South of Zaaliyskiy Alatau is the huge Issyk Kul Lake, which can be gained by crossing the rather easy passes in the Zaaliyskiy and Kungey Alatau ranges.
The Southern Ridge of Komsomola Peak (4,376 m, 2A)
From the Chimbulak ski resort, go up a zig-zag path along the slope that leads to the Talgars-kiy pass (this can also be reached by ski-lift). Turn south on the moraine, where you can pitch your tents near the lake. Then go to the left side of the Bogdanovicha glacier moraine and cross the glacier and snow slopes until you arrive at the rocky southern ridge, which will take you to the top (4-5 hours from the lake; 2 hours for the descent). The view is simply fantastic. This route was first climbed by L. Misovskiy in 1930.
The Western Ridge of AmangeI'dy Peak (4,000 m, I B)
The serrate crest of Amangel'dy extends from east to west and goes down both sides of the mountain. The most popular route goes up the crest via the western side. From the MAL Khan Tengri camp near the meteorological station, go up along the Malaya Almaatinka river and continue up the old moraine, on the top of which you will find the dry bed of a former lake, Alpingrad (Alpinists' City, 3,430 m), which is an ideal spot to pitch your tent. From here, climb up the former moraine of the Mashuk Mameto-voy glacier and then take a couloir that gradually becomes wider. Continue by going over the many gullies, then go over an easy ten-meter wall, after which you climb up the rocks to the top, which dominates the whole valley and Tuyuk-Su glacier.
To be continued...