Virgin Peaks in Kyrgyzstan
Best season: July – SeptemberMountains cover 95% of the territory of Kyrgyzstan and 40% of those are above 3,000 meters high. There are many regions where the foot of climber has never stepped. In Kyrgyzstan such regions as high vertical walls or 5,000 meters and over mountains are well explored. Anything besides aforementioned is not of any interest for climbers, especially if it’s lower than 4,000 m. Thousands of accessible and gorgeous summits are still virgin.
Terskey Ala-Too RangeIt is one of the most extensive mountainous ranges of the Tien-Shan system. It stretches along the southern shore of lake Issyk-Kul for almost 400 km in latitudinal strike from its western edge to the border of Kazakhstan in east. Canyons Karakol, Jetyoguz and Chon-Kyzylsuu are very popular among climbers. Other canyons are whether rarely visited by mountaineers or not visited at all. There is reasonable access by road to almost all canyons of the northern part of the range and many of the southern slopes. The highway goes along northern slopes. The territory of the range is not in the border area and no special permits are required.
Kuiluu RangeThe region is situated in Issik-Kul oblast to the south of Terskey Ala-Too ridge in the interfluves: the Kuilu river in the north, the Uchkul in the south, the Sarydjaz in the east and the Irtash in the west. The range stretches for 50 km to the north-west. Altitude reaches 5,281 m (Konstituzii) relief is more dissected then one of the Akshiirak with elevation up to 1,100m. Among numerous glacier bowls there are a lot of rocky walls and various stages of icefall. Majority of peaks are unclimbed which gives good perspective for first ascents and new routes. The range of difficulty is quite wide from the easy routes to moderate and very difficult ones. Mountains are formed by metamorphic and igneous rock. There are monolithic and fractured rocks depending on its type. Four main sub-regions can be identified in Kuiluu region, such as the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western. Each region has different access and development.
Akshyirak RangeAkshyirak range is located to the south of western brink of lake Issik-Kul in the middle between lake shore and border with China. Climate of the area is similar to the central Tien-Shan one but slightly milder. Annual precipitation is 700 mm. The heaviest precipitation fall in spring and beginning of summer, the least is in winter. The average temperature of winter is -16°С, of spring and autumn is -7°С, temperature of July and August is +4°C and of September is +0.5°C. The highest altitude here is 5,126 m. Glaciations are very significant and quite often glaciers slide down from the passes and mountain tops. Elevation is 700 meters and in eastern part reaches 1,000 m (area of the peak 5,126). The biggest glacier is Petrov, 14 km long sliding to north in the central part of northern slope of the range. 10 km long glacier of Jaman-Su is located in the eastern part of the range. The Karasai Severnii glacier is 10km long and the Kaindi glacier is 8 km and both are situated in the western part. There are about 130 glaciers in the range with total area of 450 square kilometres. Glaciers are situated above 3700 m. There are great conditions for ski touring almost all year round except second half of August and in September is the time when ice outcrops. Most of the routes are combined, on snow and ice or snow-icy and snowy. There are no high vertical walls. Routes are easy and moderate and only northern and southern slopes of 5,126m peak are rated as difficult. One can find lots of possibilities for first ascent and new routes. The northern, western and southern areas of the range can be easily accessed by car from the southern shore of lake Issik-Kul, first passing Barskaun village and then 100-150 km on gravel road by off-road vehicle. Hiking time from the road to starting point of climbing is about 2-3 days.
Western Kokshal-Too.Western part of one of the most extensive and highest ranges in the Tien-Shan stretching almost for 500 km is really one of the best and interesting places for climbing. It is the Western Kokshal-Too. The administration of the region is divided by two regions. Territory to the east of Kotur canyon is Jetyoguzskyi raion of the Issikkulskaya oblast and to the west is Atbashinskyi raion of the Narynskaya oblast. Speaking geographically the region is rather the western end of the highest part of the Kokshal-Too range than the very western part of the whole range. Altitude here exceeds 5,000m. It’s located to the centre part of the range. Drawing imaginary line from the very centre of lake Issik-Kul to the south on the intersection with Kokshal-Too range we can define the location of the Western Kokshal-Too. It borders with China. The region stretches from longitude 78 east to longitude 79.15’ west for almost 100 km. The axial part of the ridge here stretches in the exact latitudinal direction. Glaciers fill up the canyons meridionally spreading from the axial part. Glaciations prevail at quite large territory of the area. If glaciers slide down of the slopes they stay on the remains of ancient peneplain, on some tops of it. There are about 40 glaciers in the area. The biggest one is the Chon-Turasu and stretches for almost 18 km. Glacier bottom is rather flat what makes it easier to walk there. Altitude reaches up to 5,982 m (Dankov peak). Elevation is 1,500m. A lot of walls are 1,000m high. Glaciers in the canyons are located at the altitude of 4,000-4,500 m. The climate here is typical for Central Asia, i.e. acutely continental. The region is one of the most rigorous ones and called the Arctic of Kyrgyzstan for its severe winters when temperature drops to -60°C. Summer here lasts only for one month – August and it is the best time for climbing. Thunderstorms are very common for May – July. September has very stable weather however cold one and snow doesn’t melt. The average temperature of July is +4°C, of August is +6°C and of September is +2°C. The annual precipitation is 420mm. Bottom of gorges and watersheds is alpine desert located on the ancient peneplain* surface with slope swamps in some areas.
Borkoldoi RangeThe range is situated to the north of Western Kokshaltoo and to the east of Jany-Jer ridge. It’s administrated by Jetyoguzskyi raoin of the Issik-Kul oblast. Borkoldoi range is formed in horseshoe shape facing west with its open side. The region is not very well explored. There is no information on climbing during pre-perestroika period. First expedition took place in 2002 by Pat Littlejohn and was followed by several more. Different parts of the range have different accesses. The northern, eastern and south-eastern parts can be accessed from Barskaun via Karasai village. The southern and central part of the range can be reached only from Naryn via Akmuz village and further to the valley of the Moyudrum River. As the region is not very popular among climbers, only 20 summits were climbed among numerous unclimbed peaks. Nowadays more than 100 peaks over 4,000 meters high and 8 peaks over 5,000m are still unclimbed. Only off-road vehicles can provide access to the region itself and to the base camps. It takes about 2-4 days to get there from Bishkek. There are no people living there permanently. Only several hunting grounds and shepherds’ farms are found in the area, no settlements. Access to the hunting grounds is restricted therefore it’s advised to get in touch with the management and inquire the permission to enter the territory. The region is in the border area and special permit is required.
Jetim and Jetimbel RangesThe ranges are situated to the south of the central part of the Terskei Alatoo ridge and to the west of Suek pass. There is a road over the pass to Karasai village. The ranges were not explored by climbers. There is great number of peaks over 4,000 m high with easy routes. Easy accessibility to the region is by mountain roads on off-road vehicles. Western part of ranges can be accessed from the side of the Malyi Naryn River and access to the eastern part is over Suek pass from the side of the Taragai River. The average walking time from the end of the roads to the climbing starting points is 1-3 hours and in some parts it’s 4-5 hours. The ranges are in the border area and special permit is required.
Torugart Too RangeThe range is located to the west of Torugart pass over which the international highway to China goes. It stretches for almost 50 km west along the Arpa River to the Ferganskyi ridge. 30 km of the eastern part of the range stretch along the Kyrgyz-Chinese border. The region is administrated by Atbashinskyi raion of the Naryn oblast. Easy accessibility is conditioned by the highway Naryn-Torugart pass. Nevertheless off-road vehicles are necessary to get into the canyons. First exploration of the region was done by Pat Littlejohn expedition in 2006. Then 6 first ascents were done in the area of the Mustyr river valley. Later two more expeditions added eight more first ascents. There are still several unexplored canyons to the west of the Mustyr gorge with more than 40 peaks over 4,000m high among which 5 peaks are over 5,000m. Routes are mostly combined and on ice and snow. Numerous summer shepherd camps in the lower canyons can be the sources to replenish dairy products and meat stock and to hire horses as well. The region is in the border area and special permit is required.
JangartThe region is located to the south of Kaindi range on the border with China. It is administrated by Aksuiskyi raion of the Issik-Kul oblast. Small Jangart range is divided from the Kokshaaltoo range by the river and glacier Jangart. Both ranges have lots of perspective for climbing as Jangart with altitude up to 4,600m and the Kokshaaltoo with altitude to 5,340m. This region of Tien-Shan can be defined as the most difficult in terms of access and the fact that it’s totally unexplored by climbers. First mountaineers came to the region in 2001. It was the British exploratory expedition of Ingrid Crossland and Graham Sutton who accessed the region by helicopter from Maidaadyr camp grounds. Another group of the British climbers visited the area in 2010 when they climbed many summits. That expedition drove along the Kaichi river at the foot of Jangart pass. Then they hiked over the pass and down to the Jangart glacier. This itinerary takes 4 days. The region is in the border area and special permit is required.
- Group of 3 persons – USD 1530 per person
- Group of 5 persons – USD 1260 per person
- Group of 6 persons – USD 1160 per person
- Group of 8 persons – USD 980 per person
- Group of 10 persons – USD 870 per person
Scheme of standard programme “Bishkek-Bishkek”:
Day Itinerary Accommodation
- 1. International flight to Bishkek. –
- 2. Arrival to Bishkek. Final preparations for expedition (buy food, check equipment). Hotel 3*
- 3. Transfer to Naryn/Karakol Guest House
- 4-5. Transfer from Naryn/Karakol to base camp (climbing area) Tents
- 6-12. Acclimatization, climbing (7 days). Tents
- 13. Transfer from base camp to Naryn/Karakol. Guest House
- 14. Transfer to Bishkek. Hotel 3*
- 15. Transfer to the airport. Departure. –
Service, included in programme “Bishkek-Bishkek”:
- Visa support (if required)
- Registration in passport department OVIR (if required)
- Border permit
- Registration in local Rescue Service
- Return land transfer from airport to the hotel
- Land transfer Bishkek – Base Camp – Bishkek by cross country vehicle
- Demurrage of vehicle during expedition
- – in Bishkek: Hotel 3* (incl. breakfast) – 2 nights
- – in Naryn/ Karakol: Guest House (incl. breakfast) – 2 nights
- Cook for expedition
- Full board
- All kitchen and dining utensils and gas
- Small gas canisters for ascent
- Camp – manager
- Ascent / Route consultation of experienced Guides in Bishkek
- Assistance in changing of departure dates of air tickets. Air company fees for change are paid only.
Service does not included in programme “Bishkek-Bishkek”:
- English speaking Mountain guide – USD 1200 per guide per programme
- Tents for accommodation – USD 100 per tent per programme
- High altitude tent for rent – USD 150 per programme per item
- Rent of satellite phone for ascent – USD 10 per day
- Transfer / flight from Almaty or Tashkent to Bishkek from USD 90 per person one way transfer
- Acclimatization programme for ascent (Kyrgyz Range, Ak-Sai Glacier)
- Excursions in Bishkek, on Issyk-Kul Lake, Son-Kul Lake and others.