West Kokshal-Too Expedition 2006
MEMBERS: Pat Littlejohn, Adrian Nelhams, Vladimir Komissarov (guides), Ulrik Andersen, Ben Box, James Bruton, Joanne da Silva, Greg Paul, Todd Siemers, Nick Wheatley.
At the start of September we made the now familiar trip via Naryn to the Kokshal range and established base camp at the delightful lake below the west side of the Navlikin Glacier. On our first full day the full team walked 5 hours up the glacier to recce and acclimatise, then the weather closed in and snowed heavily for 24 hours, putting 30cm of snow at BC and much more higher up. Once the weather cleared we made an exploratory trip to the Malitskovo glacier immediately to the east. This revealed a cluster of excellent unclimbed peaks. After a 'council of war' one team led by PL decided to attempt Pk 5611 (peak adjacent to Grand Poohbah) at the head of the Navlikin glacier, and the two other teams led by AN and VK decided to attempt peaks around the Malitskovo glacier.
After 2 days PL, JdS, BB & JB established a camp at about 4650m below Pk 5611 but were pinned down by evil weather for 3 days, which meant most slopes were even more heavily laden and avalanche prone. They went up to c. 4850 on the peak but turned back when the depth of unstable snow reached the handles of trekking poles. At night the gusts of wind were like express trains but luckily they had a bombproof tent (JB's Hillenberg). On the plus side, JdS taught everyone to play Bridge which gave some in-tent entertainment, and a tent fire also enlivened proceedings! Finally there was a brief clearing and they climbed a small peak above the camp (Pt Argon, 4880m) before heading down when the food ran out. On the way back to BC they had a fantastic day making the first traverse of Macciato Peak (4656m) which gave 9 hrs of fine mountaineering along a sharp crest.
Through this period the other teams were attempting 5 peaks above the Malitskovo Glacier. Here the weather was much better; being lower and further north (Poohbah seems to hold its own bad weather system, often in a storm cloud when everything lower is clear). VK, GP & UA climbed Pik Ascha 4717m and the more distant Pik Novey 4760m. They were then joined by AN, NW & TS for an ascent of Pik Berum 4812m. The dominant peak of this glacier is the superb, fin-like Pk 4996m. AN, NW & TS climbed the east flank of this then followed the sharp north ridge to a forepeak just short of the summit, stopped by time and a dangerously corniced ridge. They offer a name of Pik Kanashay (Queen). Finally AN with GP and UA reached 4900m on Pk 4975m, turning back because of avalanche danger.
All in all an excellent, memorable trip despite not achieving the major objective of 'Grand Poohbah'.