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Western Mizhirgi (5025m, Caucasus, Russia),
Southern ridge (5) ascent

Koshtan (5151m), North ridge, 4B, Caucasus, Russia

Author: Tsibanov Andrey, Moscow



Pushkin peak (5100m) North Face, Besengi,Caucasus, Russia


Technical data of ascent

1. Technical class
2. Ascent area: Bezengi region, Central Caucasus, Russia.
3. Mountain name: Pushkin Peak, 5100 m, North Face
4. Propounded grade: 5B, first ascent

5. Altitude difference: 1900 m, wall part 400 m
Extent of the route: - 2930 m
Extent of route sites:
V -graded -740 m
VI- graded -60 m
Average steepness up to the cofferdam -50 degrees

6. Climbing-irons:
Friends - 223, pitons - 24, ice-screws - 63

7. Total ascending hours -55, days - 5

8. Spending the night on the route
1-st (lying) on the ice cofferdam after rocky rise
2-nd (lying) on a hanging glacier's pad
3-rd (lying) on the cofferdam under Borovikov peak
4-th (lying) in a trough between Pushkin peak and East Dykh-Tau

9. Bezengi Camp Team:
Kulikov Vladimir, the head
Tsibanov Alexander,
Tsibanov Andrey,
Bezditko Sergey.

10. Saratov Jury, the coach

11. The team left Bezengi Camp 2.07.05, summit 11.07.05, returned back 13.07.05

Brief description:

Pushkin peak (5100 m) is located in Dykh-Tau mountain massif in Bezengi region (Central Caucasus, Russia) between East Dykh-Tau and Borovikov peak. From Borovikov peak summit a subtle ridge goes to the north. It was climbed in 1961 by "Spartak" team led by Kletsko (3rd place in the championship of the USSR). Kletsko route traversed to the left from Borovikov peak to West Mizhirgi. We planned to climb the ridge up to the cofferdam under Borovikov peak and further traverse up to Pushkin peak via the ridge of Dykh-Tau massif. There is another route on Pushkin 5B-graded paved by Kudinov in 1972 (4th place in the championship of the USSR), taking place more to the right. It goes on an avalanche-hazardous hanging glacier and is dangerous because of ice collapses from the top hanging glacier. We hadn't found its description even in Bezengi Camp and therefore decided to pass a new variant of the route Pushkin peak 5B-graded.

UIAA route diagram

Site Extent Grade Steepness Friends /pitons/ice screws Notes
R0: 0-1 300? II 30 -/-/- 3.07.05
R1: 1-2 300? II-III 40-50 15/3/10 -
R2: 2-3 300? V-VI 75-85 73/14/7 A2 ?
R3: 3-4 300? IV-V 60-70 17/4/12 4.07.05
R4: 4-5 300? III-IV 50-60 -/-/12 -
R5: 5-6 60? V 70 -/-/8 5.07.05
R6: 6-7 240? IV-V 60-80 7/2/14 -
R7: 7-8 550? IV-V travers 63/-/- 6.07.05
R8: 8-9 580? III-V travers 48/1/- -


Route diagram


Route description

Approach from a glacier on a snow slope under an ice couloir at the foot of the North ridge-300m, II -graded.

Climb first via a couloir with up to a rocky slope-150 II-graded., further on an ice slope climb with traverse under the right part of rocky site of the northern ridge - 150 III-graded.

The crux. Climb on a heap of stones and ice adhering to a poor corner right upwards, 300m V-VI-graded, on small cornices it's possible to aid-climb. An exit on a shoulder of the Northern ridge with a jaggy. On the jaggy - a bivy. It took 13-15 hours to get here from Krumkolskie camp site.

From the bivy site climb first on the wall - 50 V -graded- upwards on a rocky ridge and about 100 m along it- IV -graded- up to a place where the rocky ridge passes in poor ice. Further on ice directly upwards up to the first ice pyramid -150m V -graded.

From the first ice pyramid rise first on a sharp ridge-100m III-graded, then on an ice wall up to the second snow pyramid - 50m IV-graded. On the second pyramid - a bivy, 8-10 hours- from the previous bivy. From the bivy site ascent on an abrupt slope on a sharp snow ridge -50m IV-graded and further on the ridge-100m III- graded. Exit on a plateau, from the last bivy set on the pyramid-2-3 hours. It's possible to spend the night here. On the plateau - on foot ascending under a bergschrund.

From the bergschrund under a hanging glacier, bypassing ice faults at the left, rise on ice on the top of a glacier-60m V -graded.

From the glacier traverse with ascent on a diagonal along the bergschrund up to an ice wall under a rocky buttress going down from Borovikov peak - 180m IV-graded. The belay- in the bergschrund using ice-axes. The loose snow is not suitable for the belay. Through the bergschrund an ice wall begins (30m V graded), and then on it up to a rocky buttress. The rocky buttress is crossed via a corner-30m V -graded and further traverse on the slope up to a cofferdam, where we set a bivy. 12-14 hours from the previous one.

From the bivy on a ledge from the South side of the ridge of Dykh-Tau massif climb upwards in a direction of the cofferdam between the first and second gendarmes - 400m IV -graded. From the cofferdam between the gendarmes - rappel 50m under the second the gendarme. Further ascent first via a chimney then on a crack on the cofferdam behind the second gendarme - 100m V -graded. Here it is possible to spend the night.

From the cofferdam simple rise to a ridge -100m III graded. Further via the ridge bypassing fine gendarmes from the south-400m III-IV graded up to rocky rise on Pushkin peak - 80m V graded. Behind the summit - a bivy in a trough. 12-15 hours from the previous bivy. Descent via the Southern couloir between Pushkin and East Dykh-Tau peaks.

Corniced Rocky wall - R2
Ice walls - R3-R6
Loose snow -R6
Rocky rise on Pushkin peak - R8

Dangerous sites:

On descent via Southern Couloir rockfalls and avalanches are possible.

Places of spending the night:

A ledge under rocky rise on the right - sedentary on a shoulder of the Northern ridge, on an ice pyramid, on a plateau of a glacier, on the cofferdam under Borovikov peak, behind the second gendarme, behind the summit, on descent via the Southern couloir - lying.

Team's tactical ruse:

2.07.05 Start from Bezengi Camp up to Krumkolskie camp site. Spending the night. 4 hours. Overseeing avalanches on the wall.

3.07.05. Start from Krumkolskie camp site at 5.00 am. Traverse with ascent under the beginning of the route in an ice couloir at the foot of the North ridge. Potential fractures! On the couloir upwards 100m up to a rocky slope, 50 meters on outcrops and further on an ice slope 150m. A direction of movement: under the right part of rocky rise of North ridge. In the right part of the rise - a corner, on it upwards on a heap of stones, small cornices (free climbing). From this site and further up to the top we climbed in two two-man teams, one by one, the leader with an empty backpack and two ice tools. Gradually to the middle of the rise the quantity of ice increases, the rocks become more monolithic and filled with ice. It's possible to aid-climb there but we just used ice tools that appeared faster than aid-climbing. By the end of rise the steepness falls up to 75 degrees, we got out the shoulder at 8.00 pm and cut down ice under a bivy. Tsibanov Alexander was the leader all the day long.

4.07. 05. We set off at 7.00 am. Movement - direct upwards first on snow then on rocks to the ridge. In 100 m the ridge becomes nonsalient. Climb on ice with small sites of rocks. Belay points - on ice-screws and pitons. Tsibanov Andrey was the leader. An abrupt ice wall leads to the first ice pyramid. Behind it - flattening, a sharp snow ridge (100 m) and again a wall leading to the second ice-snow pyramid (50m). A bivy was set on it at 4.00 pm.

5.07.05. Start at 6.00 am. Tsibanov Andrey was the first. Climb upwards on a ridge on an abrupt snow wall (50 m), further on a sharp snow ridge 100-200 m. For the belay we dug neck-deep holes and moved one two-man team on another for greater safety. The ridge flattened and passed in a plateau where a lot of fine places for spending the night. On the plateau on foot with small ascent up to a bergschrund. The bergschrund we crossed over poor bridges. Station - in the bergschrund using ice-screws. Further upwards via the border snow - ice bypassing hanging ice faults at the left. Exit on the top of a hanging glacier. Movement along the upper bergschrund up to the ice wall leaving with rocky buttress. Stations -in the bergschrund with ice-screws. Loose snow on an abrupt slope made our movement difficult. We crossed over the bergschrund under an ice wall. Further Tsibanov Alexander led up to the summit. We climbed the ice wall up to rocky cornice bypassing it from the left and further on a vertical corner we got a snow site behind the buttress and traversed then in a direction of the cofferdam under Borovikov peak where prepared a for a bivouac. Time 7.00 pm.

6.07.05. We set off at 6.00 am. From the cofferdam we moved on Southern ledges with the general direction to the cofferdam between the first and second gendarmes. There are many variants of passage of this rocky site no more than 4-graded. The ledges pass in chimneys and dihedrals. Further rappelling 50m under the foot of the second gendarme. There from small horizontal traverse and two pitches upwards first on a corner then on cracks up to the second gendarme. On the Southern shoulder at the second gendarme a site under one tent had been made! Further a simple way on the ridge up to the summit rocky rise on Pushkin peak. The beginning of the rise is little bit lower than the ridge, it is necessary to descend 30 meters on the South. The rocks are monolithic with not enough edges in the bottom part. Steepness is about 85 degrees, we used small bolts for belay. At the top part it flattened up to 70 degrees, a various relief for safe belaying. Further on the ridge about 50 meters up to the control cairn. A bivouac was set in a trough behind the cairn (we descended 50 meters on the ridge). Time 7.00 pm.

7.07.05 We started at 6.00 am. On the ridge prior to the beginning of snow Southern couloir -100 meters.10 pitches down via the couloir along rocks up to a ledge, where it is possible to spend the night. We did not find the old rappel loops and left ours there. There is a danger of rockfalls from southern buttress of Dykh-Tau. Further meters 500 on foot, adhering to the rocks on the right to a rocky ledge, where it possible to spend the night. From the ledge - 50m rappelling to the next ledge. From the ledge we crossed a snow couloir to the left on course. Further on simple rocks and on a snow slope we descended on Bezymyanny glacier, and then through the glacier - in Dzhangi-Kosh. Time 4.00 pm.

8.07.05 Descent in Bezengi Camp at 12 o'clock.

Double tent - 2
Rope (dynamic) 10,5mm 50m - 1
Rope (dynamic) of 9 mm 50m - 1
Rope (static) 9mm 50m (cut for rappel loops on descending) -1
Friends with loops - 18
Pitons (titan) - 14
Ice-screws (titan) - 10
Loops - 5
Locking biners - 20
Karabiners - 20
Ice tools - 5
Clips - 7
Crampons - 4
Helmets - 4
Boots - 4
Stoves - 2
Pots - 3
Fuel - 2,5 L
Food - 7kg
Insulating pads - 4
Rucksacks - 4
Flashlights - 4
First-aid set - 1
Radio station - 1
Videocamera - 1
Camera - 1
Watches - 2


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