Asia is huge continent with great number of mountain ranges, varying a great deal in regards to location, character, altitude and mountaineering history. The area is very heterogenous in pretty much every possible way as language, culture, accessibility, weather patters etc. vary wildly between the areas. Basically, nothing in "in general" as far as climbing on the Asian ranges is concerned.
For the sake of overview, I have divided the ranges into three areas a a way that is fairly consistent with the division used by Alpine Journal:
Himalayas and nearby Karakoram are home to all of the 8000m peaks and most other of the highest peaks. However, several other mountain ranges, particularly several ranges meeting at the Pamir Knot and many ranges located in China have some very high peaks reaching well above 7000m mark. Of these ranges, most climbing activity has been concentrated on Himalays, Karakoram, Tien Shan and Pamir. However, Pamir and Tien Shan have been largely a domain of climbers coming from former Soviet Union and far less known elsewhere. The same holds largely true for Caucasus ; except for Elbrus, not a great deal is widely known about the climbing potential outside of Russia and neighboring countries. Recently several high profile ascent, including few Piolet d'Or winners and nominees, have taken place in the Chinese ranges. They are also probable place to be featured in climbing media in years to come, as there are lot of ranges with high and spectacular looking ranges of which very little is known and virtually all peaks have not been climbed. Several of the lower ranges still have some spectacular peaks.
Many areas come with all sorts of red tape attached:
Getting to the some of the mountain areas can also be anything from straight-forward:
In terms of availability of climbing guidebooks etc. areas vary a great deal. However, in general there are surprisingly few guidebooks, even about the most visited and highest ranges. On the other hand, loads of information bout climbed routes on the highest peaks can be found on Alpine Journals, The Himalayan Index and climbing media. This, however usually covers only the highest peaks and/or very difficult climbs. Trekking guidebooks might be invaluable sources in terms of approach etc. In contrast to some well explored areas such as Nepal Himalaya, some areas are about as little explored as any place on earth, the closest thing to blank on a map there currently is.
What information can be dug out can also be highly confusing. To start with, the lack of common language means that the same peak can be referred to with multiple names altogether. There might also be several varying spellings for the same name. Add to this that there may be several very different peaks with the same name and the fact that altitude figures are inconsistent between sources, sometimes by a lot.
If information can be found, the next obstacle is trying to make sense of it. As can probably be expected, there are loads of different grading schemes:
The highest and best known range of the area is Caucasus which has several of Europe's highest peaks culminating at Elbrus. Elbrus is mainly attractive to those wanting to stand on top of the Europe, whereas many lower but far steeper peaks are of a lot more interest to alpinists. When talking about climbing and Turkey, most Europeans probably think about sport climbing. However, ranges in Turkey have peaks of comparable height to the Alps with Ararat exceeding anything in the Alps in height, yet not much is known about mountain climbing potential in Turkey.
Turkey is a mostly mountainous country, with mountains bordering to the Mediterranean in the south, the Black Sea in the north, Aegean Sea in the west and a high, dry plateau in the interior part of the country. There is much variety among the mountains of Turkey:
Turkey's climate varies a lot between different areas, as the damp coastal regions contrast with the dry inland plateau. Generally warm, comfortable temperatures prevail throughout Turkey, making for excellent year round hiking, though early Summer is the best season for the higher summits.
In the southern part of the country on the cost of Mediterranean Sea lie Taurus mountains. They presents a formidable crest-line of steep rocky peaks, dozens of which top 3000 meters.
The mountain group of greatest interest to climbers in Western Taurus is Aladaglar where Mt. Demirkazik (3756m) us the highest and probably also the most famous climbing destination. The area is also quite popular rock climbing area.
Mount Erciyes, ,First ascent
|William John Hamilton|
In northern part of Turkey, close to Caspain Sea rise Pontic Mountains, which is actually a collection of several smaller ranges. Summits in the Pontics average from 3000m to 3600m. The main climbing area of Pontic Mountains is Kaçkar Mountains (Kaçkar Dağları or simply Kaçkars) culminating at Kaçkar Dağı (3937m). The Kaçkars are glaciated mountains that are alpine in character, with steep rocky peaks and numerous mountain lakes.
The two highest mountains in Turkey, Mount Ararat (5165m) and Suphan Dagi (4434m) are isolated volcanoes in the extreme east of the country. Snow-capped Mount Ararat (5165m) rises in isolation above the surrounding plains and valleys in extreme northeast Turkey, 15km west of Iran, and 35km south of Armenia. The second highest mountain Suphan Dagi (4434m) is located just north of Lake Van, Turkey's largest lake.
Mount Ararat, ,First ascent
|Dr. Friedrich Parrot & Khachatur Abovian via NW slope|
Caucasus range, extending 1200km between Black Sea in the west and Caspian Sea in the east, forms both geographic, ethnic and political barrier between Europe and Asia. North to south the range extends maximally 180km. Although it is the home to the highest mountains of the Europe, the area is relatively little known among western climbers, as the access was formerly difficult. There are seven peaks above 5000m. The Great Caucasus is traditionally divided into three regions - Western, Central and Eastern, with conventional borders coming through two highest peaks: Mt. Elbrus (5642m) to the west and Mt. Kazbek (5033m) to the east. <<more>>.
Damavand, ,First ascent
|Abu Dolaf Kazraji|
Cental Asia is a great and complex collection of several high ranges, many of which collide at Pamir knot. Himalaya and nearby Karakoram are home to all of the 8000m peaks and most other of the highest peaks. However, several other mountain ranges have some very high peaks reaching well above 7000m mark. Of these ranges, most climbing activity has been concentrated on Himalays, Karakoram, Tien Shan and Pamir. However, Pamir and Tien Shan have been largely a domain of climbers coming from former Soviet Union and are far less known elsewhere. Kunlun is not particularly well known with a single exception: Muztagh Ata counts as one of the easiest 7000m peaks and is fairly popular ascent. Hindu Kush, Hindu Raj and Altai are least known of Central Asia main ranges. Some parts of Central Asia have all sorts of red tape due to border disputes and political unrest.
Tien Shan mountain range, meaning Heavenly Mountains, is 800 km wide and 2800 km long mountain system located in Central Asia northeast of Pamir and north of Kunlun Shan, extending from Uzbekistan to Mongolia. It is extended further north by the Bogda Mountains, and further still by the Altai Mountains along China's northern border. The highest peak is Pik Pobeda (Jengish Chokusu, 7439m). There are more than thirty peaks close to, or over, 6000 meters above sea level, the predominant height of summits in the Tien Shan is 4000-5000m and passes range between heights of 3500-4500m. <<more>>.
Pamir range, called the roof of the world by Persians, is located in southern Central Asia. It is mainly located mainly in Tajikistan, but the northern slopes stretch to Kyrgyzstan, its western and southern slopes stretch to Afganistan and eastern slopes to China. Some count Kongur Shan to the East of Pamir to be part as Pamir instead of it belonging to Kunlun Shan. If Kongur is considered part of Pamir, it would be the highest mountain of the range. If not, then The three highest mountains in the Pamirs core are Ismoil Somoni Peak (known from 1932–1962 as Stalin Peak, and from 1962–1998 as Communism Peak) at 7495m, Pik Lenin 7134m and Peak Korzhenevskaya (7105m) the the three highest peaks of the range. <<more>>.
Altai mountains are located in the region where Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia meet, north of Bogda range. Though Altai range is lower in altitude than many other ranges in Asia, it is very remote, and much time and planning are required for its approach. The highest mountain is Gora Belukha (or Belukla, 4506m).
Altai mountains can be divided into three sections:
Russian Altai (aka Great Altai). Main grouop of Rissian Altai is Katun range with Gora Belukha (4506m), the highest peak of Altai and entire Siberia. The best known part of Russian Altai is cirque formed by Delone (4070m) - Belukha East - Belukha West and Altai Crow (4167m) around the Akkem glacier.
Mongolian Altai (aka Ektag Altai). Located on the border between China and Mongolia, SE of Russian Altai. Despite Altai's highest peak Belukha being part of Russian Altai, Mongolian ALtai is generally higher with several next highest peaks being located there.
Tavan Bogd group is a dense cluster of alpine peaks that contain a compact but complex system of glaciers. Huiten is located only 3km south of the ice-dome summit of Naraimdal Uul (Friendship Peak, 4184m), the geopolitical triple point where Mongolia, Russia, and China converge. Mount Huithen, the highest peak of the range, is the second highest peak of entire ALtai range.
Located entirely in Mongolia, north of Gobi desert and east of Mongolian Altai. The highest peak of the range is Ich Bogd Uul (3957m).
Gora Belukha, Delone Pass,First ascent
|Delone Pass: Tronov brothers|
Gora Belukha, Delone Pass,First ascent
|Delone Pass: Tronov brothers|
Mount Huithen, NE ridge no north summit,First ascent
|NE ridge no north summit: Pieskariow and party|
Mount Huithen, SE ridge,First winter ascent
|SE ridge: Konstantin Beketov and party|
Kunlun Shan (or Kunlun/Kun-Lun) is a major mountain system of Asia, located along the north edge of the vast dry Tibetan plains in China about halfway between the Himalayas in the south and Tien Shan in the north. On the west side, it borders on Pamir. The highest mountains of the range are located in the narrow western part in Kongur Shan group if that part of the range in counted as being part of Kunlun (some argue it is, some that is belongs to Pamir. The main range is very long and runs generally west to east but it divides into complex system in the eastern part with numerous parallel chains. <<more>>.
Hindu Kush is located southwest of Pamir, more or less on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Hindu Kush is one of the great watersheds of Central Asia, forming part of the vast Alpine zone that stretches across the continent from east to west. In the eastern part of the range, mountains are generally round and wide, and rise to around 5500m, low by central Asian standards. Western part has a cluster of high snowy peaks, twenty of which are 7000 meter summits. The highest mountain of the area is Tirich Mir (7690m). Compared to many other areas with high peaks, the weather is predictable and stable. <<more>>.
The Hindu Raj is the extensive chain of sub-7000-meter summits that roughly parallels the Hindu Kush and lies between it and the Western Karakoram. On its north side lies nowadays very rarely visited eastern Hindu Kush, while to the south upper reaches of the Yarkun and the Indus rivers flow into the areas known as Swat and Kohistan. The range is much less well-known than its neighbors, partly because of the absence of any really high peaks. For a long time the more easily visible Buni Zom (6551m) at the western end of the range was considered the highest summit. During the 1960s that the shapely Koyo Zom, hidden in the center of the range, was found to be the highest at 6889m. Other notable peaks include Thui Zom 1 (6661m) and 2 (6623 m), Dhuli Chhish (6518m), Garmush (6243m) and Karka 6222m). <<more>>.
Karakoram (sometimes spelled Karakorum) lies in northeast Pakistan and Northern India, some 1500km west of Nepalase Himalayas and north of westernmost part of Himalaya , separated from it by the river of Indus. It is often regarded as a part of the Himalayas. The mountains in Karakoram typically have sharp, angular form and many of icy peaks are surrounded by wild towers and spires. <<more>>.
Most of the worlds highest mountains are located in the vast and complex Himalayan range (that means The Land of Snow). It forms over 2000km broad crescent through Northeastern Pakistan (Punjab), Northwestern India, Southern Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim Bhutan and Assam area of India. It is bordered on the north by the plateau of Central Asia and on the south by the fertile plains of the India. Ten of the world's fourteen 8000-meter peaks are located in Himalaya (the remaining are located in Karakoram). <<more>>.
Highest peaks of Eastern Asia are to be found in one of the many Chinese ranges. They have been very unknown, but during the recent years several high profile ascent, including few Piolet d'Or winners and nominees, have taken place in China. They are also probable place to be featured in climbing media in years to come, as there are lot of ranges with high and spectacular looking ranges of which very little is known and virtually all peaks have not been climbed. Peaks closer to pacific ocean such as Japanese Alps and peaks in Kamchatka peninsula are largely volcanic.
Highest peaks of Eastern Asia are to be found in one of the many Chinese ranges . They have been very unknown, but during the recent years several high profile ascent, including few Piolet d'Or winners and nominees, have taken place in China. They are also probable place to be featured in climbing media in years to come, as there are lot of ranges with high and spectacular looking ranges of which very little is known and virtually all peaks have not been climbed. <<more>>.
Kamchatka peninsula of Russia has several high volcanoes, many of them active. The highest of them is Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4750m), the tallest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere. Many of Kamchatka volcanoes have classic cone shape; most striking example being Kronotsky (3527m). Most accessible are the three volcanoes visible from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky: Koryaksky (3456m), Avachinsky (2741m) and Kozelsky.
Kliuchevskaya, ,First ascent
|Daniel Gauss & companions|
Japan is rugged and mountainous, about 70% of the land consisting of mountains. A long chain of mountains runs down the middle of the Japanese islands, dividing it into two halves, the "face," fronting on the Pacific Ocean, and the "back," toward the Sea of Japan. On the Pacific side are steep mountains 1500 to 3000 meters high, with deep valleys and gorges. Central Japan is marked by the convergence of the three mountain chains — the Hida, Kiso, and Akaishi mountains — that form the Japanese Alps (Nihon Arupusu). Japan Alps have several peaks exceeding 3000m, the he highest point being Mount Kita (3193m). The highest point in the country is dormant volcano of Mount Fuji (Fujisan, 3776m). On the Sea of Japan side are plateaus and low mountain districts, with altitudes of 500 to 1500.
The best season for climbing in Japanese Alps late April-mid-November.
The Japanese Alps (Nihon Arupusu) is a series of mountain ranges in Japan which bisect the main island of Honshu. Japan Alps have several peaks exceeding 3000m, the he highest point being Mount Kita (3193m).
The Northern Alps, also known as the Hida Mountains, stretch through Nagano, Toyama and Gifu prefectures. A small portion of the mountains also reach into Niigata Prefecture.
The Central Alps, also known as the Kiso Mountains, lie in Nagano prefecture.
The Southern Alps, also known as the Akaishi Mountains, span Nagano, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka prefectures.
Mount Hotaka, ,First ascent