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Ak-Su peak, 5355m
North Face of Peak Pobeda. New Route

The author: Anton Pugovkin, Krasnoyarsk



Ak-Su. First Ever Winter New Route
The Leader's impressions

The project of Ak-Su winter ascent has been maturing in our minds since last year, but we managed to realize it only this winter. Before climbing Ak-Su, we already had experience of expeditions to the big walls in winter, which were useful to us very much. At once we made a decision to climb a new route, because Balezin had an interesting variant of the route.

The base camp

And the dream became true. On February, 1st we settled the excellent base tent on a glade in 6 km from the Mountain, which became the house for us for a month. And next day all of us have left it to leave some food upper and four of us remained there to spend the night. On February, 3rd Evgeniy started to climb and at once he set high rate, having fixed 6 ropes for two days. Sergey and I according our tradition meantime made a cave under the route and dragged there all our belongings. On 5th of February a two-men team Malygin - Tsyganov accepted relay race and by the 6th of February they were already in the middle of the thirteenth pitch.


The weather stood excellent, and we understood, that we should use that chance on a maximum. Therefore, on February, 7th we started climbing to hang up a portaledge in order to the working two-men wont descend any more. But Ak-Su showed itself. The wind reached such force, that when Evgeniy dragged the portaledge, it was not clear sometimes who whom dragged: it "hung" above him. There could not be any question of taking off the ground, I thought, how not to ruin the portaledge.



That day Andrey made one pitch and looked like a snowball in glasses. As the result we hang up the portaledge at the zone of 13-th pitch. A visibility sometimes was no more a meter, The real "White River" flew on the Wall. In the same evening all of us descended running away to the base camp. The bad weather continued a day more and after that we could see Ak-Su in all its magnificence, decorated with fresh snow.

The weather was excellent. And the same day, on February, 9th the two-men Dmitrienko-Tsyganov left to the portaledge, and a day later all other guys climbed there, having hung up the second portaledge next to.

By this moment we already made 19 pitches and came under the crux of the route: 5 pitches 3, 4 70-80 , with a pure surface and a lot of skyhooks. This site took away five days from us, and the weather on February, 12th became disgusting: daily snowfalls, sometimes with a strong wind, braked too our moving. But our tactics and a good mood allowed us not to waste time during the bad weather - for the whole ascent there was only one day of forced rest. After it we decided to change two-men teams every day giving them rest after working on the route.


When only one pitch left up to the ledge under the "Nose" (also called Snot) we decided, that it was the time to drag there all our gear (ten pitches of difference). In the morning Malygin and Litvinov left to fix the rope, and we hauled our belongings. That day the weather arranged the test for our durability. A force of a snowfall that day was maximal and we moved slowly.

Evgeniy and Dmitry

By 2 p.m. we anyhow made 5 pitches, and it became clear, that we would not reach the ledge in any way before the darkness, therefore I made the decision to hang the portaledge in the beginning of the crux. Finally we got inside it when it was already dark for a long time. Probably, it was a decisive day of our ascent. Then the firm confidence appeared: we will climb in any way, sooner or later, because we could climb here in such conditions.

If up to the "Nose" we climbed a new route but then we went out to Popov's route with an excellent relief. And we could make only 4 pitches for two days. Further there was a cascade of serious cornices and overhangings still not climbed yet. After 5-6 pitches we left on the "roof", where we found a spit. It meant that Shabalin had descended the "Nose" somewhere here. All this time the weather still was disgusting.

Every evening on communication Zaharov encouraged us: "Guys, you have to suffer a day-another, a change of moon phases will pass". And it was in such way all 10 days. By the way, it is necessary to give due to modern heaters: three-local sleeping bags tailored by "Rock - Pillars" from thinsulate allowed us to spend the night easily. That we will not tell about our portaledge. Its roof had some patches - the result of stones falling, and the one-and-a-half-meter hole along the external edge By the end of the ascent the platform showed a pity show: every possible patches and plugs from polyethylene packages and insulating pads, the pipes deformed by a wind. Therefore downwards we took only the pipes.


And so, at the very least, on February, 23rd the group in full complement successfully summited. And the weather took a pity on us: there was no any snowfall for two days, and we could enjoy fantastic views of winter mountains from the top. It was too pleasant to see, the sun, having lived for ten days on the wall during a bad weather.

The next day the next snowfall let us know, who was a boss here. But it did not stop us any more. At 4 p.m. all of us already sat in a cave under a bergschrund, having descended via the way of ascent.

Thus, for 20 days we managed to lay a new route on this tremendous summit. In my opinion, it appeared the logical route in 34 pitches. There were not special technical difficulties on the route, though it is difficult to imagine, how we would climb if we did not have anchor hooks and fifi hooks, which allowed to make reliable points on rocks in thin, deaf cracks. And, without Evgeniy, who climbed the first 80 % of the route as the leader, we would climb much longer. About the weather: in February there are plentiful snowfalls here, but the temperature during the ascent did not fall lower a minus 25C. It was basically, in a range from-15 up to-20 degrees.


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