Unclimbed Peaks and Khan Tengri Expeditions 2011 – Kyrgyzstan – Leading for Adventure Peaks

I have just returned from Kyrgyzstan where I have been expedition leading for www.adventurepeaks.com.

The two phase trip firstly focused on exploring new areas of the Tien Shan mountains and climbing unclimbed and unrecorded peaks up to about 4700m.  We managed about 7 significant peaks, a number of new routes up to about Scottish V/5, and a number of ascents of previously climbed peaks also.  The area offered great Scottish style mountaineering at a altitude similar to the European Alps.  Access to the area is by six wheel drive trucks and the sense of remoteness quickly builds.  As well as great mountains, the area is also steeped in history and an ancient nomadic culture.

Access Truck
Nomadic Family

Base Camp Mess Tent

The Range

First ascent of the obvious line up the toothed ridge

En route for an unclimbed summit

A new route on a previously climbed peak
Using this stage to acclimatise we then moved on to the 7010m peak, Khan Tengri.  Some days over land and a chopper flight dropped us into Base Camp on the glacier.  This area of the Tien Shan is on a much larger scale, the peaks are higher and Base is already above 4000m.
We spent about 10 days on the mountain and despite slow progress initially due to heavy snow fall, 3 of our group of 5 summitted on the 14th on a perfect summit day, also the first really good day we had so far on this phase of the expedition.  Khan Tengri gives a challange in that its summit day is 1200m, its also the steepest part of the route, it would compare with the Hornli ridge on the Matterhorn only at 7000m and having already spent 8 days climbing to camp 3, where the summit day begins.
Khan Tengri 7010m

Heli drop to Base Camp

Camp 1 before the snow came

Summit Day

Other groups ascending the shoulder on summit day
Arriving at 6200m

Skye Mountaineering – 31st May and 1st June

Now joined by Andy, we decided to head to the northern end of the ridge and make a traverse of the north skyline.  We started from Sligachan and went up the NW ridge of Bruach na Frithe at grade 2.  We then moved on to the Bhasteir Tooth.  After a ‘team talk’ we decided to climb the tooth direct via Naismith’s Route (V.Diff 35m).  This was Sean’s first rock climb and was a great achievement as its an intimidating looking pitch.  We then climbed the steep bulge onto Am Basteir and continued up the west ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean (mod) and then descended the SE ridge at grade 3.  A really great day out and taking on some of the finest Cuillin peaks and climbing.

The weather then decided to remind us we were on the west coast of Scotland on the 1st.  We walked up to Coire Lagan thinking we may do some rope work on the slabs until to wet to continue.  Once in the coire we were pleasantly surprised that the horizontal rain was noticeably warmer than on the previous days.  An ascent of the Inaccessible Pinnacle had been a very slim plan B but was not looking out of the question.  We pushed on to the start of the route, had a ‘team talk’ again in the bivi shelter and decided to go for it.  The horizontal rain, zero visibility and Sean’s sound effects made it an atmospheric ascent and one of my most memorable I’d say!

Well done and thanks to all over the 4 days for their enthusiasm.

Its also worth pointing out that there was a serious rock fall on the Cioch on 31st that resulted in one death and a number of casualties, sad news.  I believe it was on Cioch Direct so anyone thinking of climbing in that area may want to do a bit of investigating about the state of the route.

More info here – http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=62485

Butter Wort

Things to come…

Sean and Andy

Naismiths route, Bhasteir Tooth

Bulge onto Am Basteir

The northern skyline – our traverse

Andy about to finish Naismith’s

Sean on Naismiths – gripped!

Andy on Naismith’s retrieving the gear
Gilleans West Ridge

Skye Mountaineering – 29th and 30th May

After a very windy and damp day introducing Sean to grade 2 scrambling and some mountaineering rope work on ‘The Spur’ scramble on Sgurr an Fheadain, we decided to step things up abit for the better weather due on the 30th. 

Joined by Janet, we decided on an ascent of the ‘great stone chute’ to gain the summit of Sgurr Alasdair.  After this we scrambled onto Sgurr Thearlaich and then headed towards Sgurr Mhic Choinnich taking in 2 abseils and looking at set up and prussick back-up.  We then took Collie’s ledge to gain Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and then descended to the bealach before a surf down An Stac screes.  A great day out and good taster of the various terrain encountered on the Cuillin.

Great clouds on Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn

Coir a’Ghrunnda

Collie’s Ledge

Another group on the first abseil

Walking and Scrambling in Scotland

Last week we spent a week exploring some classic walks and scrambles around the Fortwilliam area and in Cuillins on Skye.

The weather was always better than forecast with only one very wet day on Skye.  We started with CMD arete on Ben Nevis, then the Ring of Steall and then Curved Ridge on the Buachaille Etive Mor.  We then moved to Skye and the Cuillins.  There we traversed a section of the main ridge taking in Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Thearlaich and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich.  This is a great section of the ridge with 2 abseils and a section known as Collie’s Ledge, a shelf which cuts through some otherwise very steep ground.  We also did another section of the ridge taking in the main top of Sgurr na Banachdich in less the perfect weather.  This all gave a great taste of the Cuillins.

A great few days with 12 Munros taken in on route.  Thanks to all for their effort and enthusism, well done!

The wire bridge, early bath?!
The valley below Steall Falls.
The Ben, CMD on the right.  Not much snow left.
Approaching the summit of Sgurr a’ Mhaim.
Approaching the summit of Sgurr a’ Mhaim.
The Devil’s Ridge.
Looking down Curved Ridge on the Buachaille.
Climbers on Rannoch Wall.
The summit of Stob Dearg, the Buachaille, with the wilderness of Rannoch
Moor stretching away behind.

Scotland – Classic Walks and Scrambles

Have just spent a week in Scotland exploring some classic scrambles on the west coast and Skye.  We were very lucky with the weather, with only one very wet and windy day on Skye, and all the others staying mainly dry.

First up was CMD arete and onto Nevis, followed by the Ring of Steall and Curved Ridge on the Buachaille Etive Mor.  Then it was up to the Cuillins, the best days weather allowed an ascent of Sgurr Alasdair and a traverse of the section of the main ridge to An Stac screes.  This section takes in Sgurr Thearlaich, then 2 abseils and a section known as Collie’s Ledge up onto Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, a good taster of the Cuillin Ridge.  After a wet and windy rest day we then went up and did the section of the main ridge onto Sgurr na Banachdich in less than perfect wether.

A great few days and some classic routes, 12 Munros also.  Thanks to all and well done!

Mountain Circles Team on the Eiger North Face – 1938 Route

Mike Thomas and Paddy Cave have just returned from a visit to the Eiger ‘Nordwand’.  After a long spell of good weather and conditions on the face, though perhaps a little warm, their arrival coincided with the first snow fall in weeks.  So after a few days of waiting for the snow to settle and the impressive spindrift avalanches coming down the face to ease, they started breaking trail up the face and made a successful ascent.  Stable weather and colder nights gave perfect conditions.  Both agree the face deserves the super classic status it gets, and ED2 in 1938 deserves respect! 
Some photos below of the ascent.
Camp below the face
The Difficult Crack
The Hinterstoisser Traverse
The Exit Cracks
The Ice Hose
Corti Bivi
The Traverse of the Gods – Mike weighs up the fall, hmm..
The Traverse of the Gods

Mike on the Summit.
Paddy coming onto the Summit.

One Last Hit!?

Theres  still time to book Winter Courses at one of the best venues in the UK!

                                          Nevis North Face

Alpine situations on Nevis.
There is still plenty of ice and winter mountaineering potential on the Ben, why not get out and enjoy the long daylight hours and great late season conditions?  call/email to enquire.

Nevis Ice Conditions

Some great ice still on Nevis!

Photos of Tower Ridge, Point 5 and Hadrians Wall over the last few days.