Tien Shan

Peak Khan Tengri. (Uighur, literally "King Heaven", translated as "Lord of the spirits", or "Lord of the sky"; or Turkic translated as "Ruler of Skies", "Ruler Tengri"). Source: . Credit: The Real Kvass,  Shot on 2011-07-16 Photo taken in , Kyrgyzstan. (c) The Real Kvass, licensed under: CC BY 2.0.
Peak Khan Tengri. (Uighur, literally "King Heaven", translated as "Lord of the spirits", or "Lord of the sky"; or Turkic translated as "Ruler of Skies", "Ruler Tengri"). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Peak_Khan_Tengri.jpg. Credit: The Real Kvass, Shot on 2011-07-16 Photo taken in , Kyrgyzstan. (c) The Real Kvass, licensed under: CC BY 2.0.

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.

About Tien Shan

Extensive Tien Shan consists of multiple ranges which are mainly long ridge-like formations running generally west to east and are separated by natural features. How the range is split into subsections varies somewhat between different sources. Particularly Kyrgyz Ala-Too with famous Ala-Archa valley are considered to belong to Western Tien Shan. If that is not the case, they are considered to belong to Northern Tien Shan.

  • Western Tien Shan Ranges forming Western Tien Shan rise to the north of extensive Fergana valley, mostly in the upper western fork of Kyrgyzstan, more or less along the border of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. By far the best known climbing destination of the area is Ala Archa valley located in Kyrgyzskiy range. It is also the highest part of Western Tien Shan with several peaks above 4500m and culminating at Semenov-Tien Shanskiy (4875m). In other parts of Western Tien Shan, Chatkal peak (4503m) in Chatkal range, Manas peak (4482m) in Talaskiy Alatau and Baubashata mountains (4427m) in the western part of the Fergansky ridge are the highest points of the main ranges.
  • Northern Tien Shan Northern Tien Shan covers areas north of Issyk Kul lake. The best known peak of the area is Pik Talgar (5020m). This part of Tien Shan is most commonly approached from Almaty in Kazakhstan.
  • Central Tien Shan Central Tien Shan consists of the mountain ranges that go from south and east of Lake Issyk Kul. For climbers, this is the most fascinating area in Tien Shan. Eastern part of Central Tien Shan is home to highest peaks, dominated by giants Pobeda peak (7439m) and the fantastic pyramid of Khan-Tengri (7010m). These are the two most northerly located 7000-meter mountains in the world, and they attract mountain climbers from all over the world. But it is really surprising that most of the peaks around them have not even been given a name.
  • Eastern Tien Shan Chinese and Russian parts of Tien Shan. Climbing potential of eastern Tien Shan is largely unexplored. The highest peaks of eastern Tien Shan are found on the Chinese groups, not far from 7000ers of Internal Tien Shan.

Climbing in Tien Shan

Different parts of Tien Shan are vastly different as far as climbing goes:

  • Internationally by far the most famous area is Internal Tien Shan with the two colosses: Pik Pobeda and Khan Tengri. As they are significantly more difficult than 7000ers of Pamir they see nowhere near the traffic of the Pamit giants, but are arguably more interesting from alpinists point of view. The area is remote; virtually all access is with helicopters from Kyrgyzstan.
  • Much lower Ala Archa valley near capital Biskhkek is far more accessible. Here the peaks are significantly lower but offer interesting selection of 4000-5000m high peaks on a very compact area. The valley was very popular during the Soviet era and thus the selection of routes at all grades is larger than on anywhere else in the range.
  • During the recent years Western Kokshaal-Too has gained popularity. Particularly Kyzyl-Asker has become sought after objective. The area appears to have spectabular peaks between 5000-6000m high but is reported to have bad weather. it is also much more remote.
  • Climbing potential of eastern Tien Shan is largely unexplored.

The Tien Shan is well glaciated: it has 7787 glaciers, the biggest one being the South Ingylchek glacier. The climate tends to be severe, it is characterized by sudden variations and frequent rainfall, phenomena connected to the vicinity of the Takla Makan desert. Especially northern parts of the range has very low temperatures. The snow line is at a much lower altitude than in the neighboring Pamir (at around (3200m). Most suitable time for climbing the big peaks is July and August. September may have stabler weather but it is also colder. Lower ranges located in Western Tien Shan have generally better weather.

Normal route on Khan Tengri is popular and commercial parties operate regularly on it, thus information about the routes is easy enough to come by. The same applies to Pik Pobeda and some relatively recent very difficult routes which are covered by Alpinist, Alpine Journals etc. Information about older routes and those falling in between the two aforementioned groups is significantly harder to get by. Russians probably have that information somewhere, but the only English guidebook I am aware of is Forbidden Mountains: The Most Beautiful Mountains in Russia and Central Asia.Kopylov, Vladimir & Sicouri, Paola PozzoliniIndutech1994978-1-871890-88-4978-1-871890-88-4Forbidden MountainsGuidebooken which covers such an area, that it obviously can't go too much into detail in regards of specific area.

One aspect to note when searching for information about the Tien Shan is that in addition to regular naming issues (several languages, no fixed translitteration to English), there are issues of more political kind. Namely several of the peaks have been renamed, few several times. In some cases the new official name has not really stuck.

Lot of older routes are named after first ascent party leader. During the soviet era ascent parties were large teams operating under formal leadership of team leader and often only team leader is named. Therefore even if the first ascent party lists only one name, it does typically not mean a solo ascent.

  • Kopylov, Vladimir & Sicouri, Paola Pozzolini: Forbidden Mountains - The Most Beautiful Mountains in Russia and Central Asia. Isbn: 978-1-871890-88-4. Indutech, 1994.
  • Maier, Frith: Trekking in Russia and Central Asia - A Traveler's Guide. Isbn: 0898863554. Mountaineers Books, 1994.
  • Central Tien Shan. 9780906227619. EWP, 1996. 1:150.000. 1:150,000 4 colour ridge map. Reverse side: 1:2,500,000 access map, general information. Bi-sected by the South Inylchek Glacier this Central Tien Shan map includes concise information on access, visas, climate & weather, flora and fauna, mountaineering, glaciers and geomorphology.
  • Kyrgyzstan - a climber's map and guide. 9781933056005. American Alpine Club, 2006-03. 1:50.000; 1:150.000; 1:200.000. This American Alpine Club map-guide to the Kyrgyzstan region features beautiful satellite-based topo maps AND provides practical & historical text about several of its most interesting mountain ranges, the Tien Shan and the Pamir Alai, along with a number of smaller groups. Peaks for the Western Kokshaal-Too, Ala-Archa and Karashvin mountain ranges are included. The text for this AAC map-guide was written by Garth Willis of The Alpine Fund, a Kyrgyzstan-based charity that takes at-risk children into the mountains. The cartography is by Martin Gamache of the Alpine Mapping Guild, who has turned topo maps into an art form.
  • Alpenvereisnkarte: 0/14 Inylchek - Tien Shan West (Kyrgyzstan). 9783937530024. DAV, 2008-05. 1:100.000. Exceptionally detailed and informative topographic map of the Tien Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan, prepared by the German Alpine Club using data from the Kyrgyz national survey organization and satellite imagery. Topography is shown by contours at 50m intervals with relief shading, plus numerous spot heights and peak names. Colouring and graphics indicate different types of vegetation (woods, meadows, swampy grassland, etc.) and soil cover (rocky outcrops, individual isolated rocks with height, caves, moraine, glaciers, etc.). Passes are classified according to the difficulty of traverse. Rivers and creeks indicate their width. The map shows local roads (paved, country lanes, dirt roads and forest tracks) and footpaths, as well as settlements and isolated buildings, bridges passable by vehicles or on foot, fuel and water tanks, etc. Assent and descent routes, base camp and possible camp sites are highlighted. The map has a UTM grid with latitude and longitude margin ticks at 5' intervals. Map legend is in English, German and Russian. Also included are tri-lingual notes on using this map with GPS units.
  • Alpenvereisnkarte: 0/15 Khan Tengri - Tien Shan East (Kyrgyzstan). 9783937530123. DAV, 2011-08. 1:100.000
  • Central Asia: Almaty Map. 9780906227817. EWP. 1:500.000. A topographic map, with 100m intervals, of Almaty covering parts of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. One of a series of topographic maps covering the major cities & the Pamir & Tien Shan mountain ranges of Central Asia. The text size denotes population size on the map.
  • Central Asia: Bishkek Map. 9780906227824. EWP. 1:500.000. Bishkek topographic map covering the major cities and the Pamir and Tien Shan mountain ranges of Central Asia. Bishkek is on the eastern side of the map midway between the top and the bottom, so most of the mapping is to the west on this map.
  • Central Asia: Naryn Map. 9780906227862. EWP. 1:500.000. An EWP topographic map of Naryn in Kyrgyzstan along the Pamir & Tien Shan mountain ranges of Central Asia. This map also includes part of China to the south. Contours are at 100m intervals with contour shading.
  • Kyrgyzstan Touristic Map. At La Historia con mapas.
  • Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan. At ITMB Publishing.

Areas

Source: . Credit: Michael Karavanov,  Shot on 2011-07-16 Photo taken in Kyrgyzstan. (c) Michael Karavanov, licensed under: CC BY-SA 3.0.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ak-Shiyrak_ridge_-_panoramio.jpg. Credit: Michael Karavanov, Shot on 2011-07-16 Photo taken in Kyrgyzstan. (c) Michael Karavanov, licensed under: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Western Tien Shan

General

Ranges forming Western Tien Shan rise to the north of extensive Fergana valley, mostly in the upper western fork of Kyrgyzstan, more or less along the border of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. By far the best known climbing destination of the area is Ala Archa valley located in Kyrgyzskiy range. It is also the highest part of Western Tien Shan with several peaks above 4500m and culminating at Semenov-Tien Shanskiy (4875m). In other parts of Western Tien Shan, Chatkal peak (4503m) in Chatkal range, Manas peak (4482m) in Talaskiy Alatau and Baubashata mountains (4427m) in the western part of the Fergansky ridge are the highest points of the main ranges.

Ala Archa lies close to Bishkek and is very accessible from there. The rest of the ranges are located closer to Tashkent. Alpine camp Chimgan is convenient base for some of the valleys.

  • Chatkalky range Westernmost part of Tien Shan. The range forms NW border of Fergana valley. Range highpoint is Chatkal (4503m).
  • Fergansky range NE border of Fergana valley. Range highpoint is Baubashata (4427m).
  • Talassky Alatau (Talas range). Located to the north of Chatkalky and Fergansky ranges. The highest peak is Manas Peak (4482m).
  • Kyrgyzskiy Westernmost group of Northern Tien Shan, sometimes considered to be part of Western Tien Shan instead of belonging to Northern Tien Shan. Kyrgyzskiy range is the most accessible part of Tien Shan, where well-known climbing area of Ala-Archa is located, just 40km away from Bishkek.
  • Maier pp.204-206; 211-215

Ala Archa

Good quality climbing and comfortable approaches make Ala-Archa valley the most frequented in the whole Tien Shan. The area has diverse routes ranging from entry-level routes (grade 1) up to serious big wall climbing (grade 6B) and involving ice, rock, or mixed ground. Rock is mainly granite and gneiss. As a rule it is solid, but shattered and rotten pitches are encountered as well. The highest peak in the region is Semyonov-Tien-Shan (4875m). Korona (4860m), Peak Free Korea (4740m) and Aktoo (4640m) are also popular among climbers.

The area is sheltered from warm southern winds, thus high mountains are excessively glaciated. Weather can be excellent from mid-June to mid-September with the best time for climbing on most routes being July-August while winter climbing is done in January and February (best time for some ice routes). Typical weather pattern is worsening in the afternoon and clearing in the evening. Several days of snowfalls and thick fog are possible, but then the three huts under the routes allow to sit it out.

Access to the valley is very easy. Ala-Archa Camp (2100m) can be reached from Bishkek by car (40km). It was onece the oldest and biggest of Soviet mountaineering camps. Nowadays it is run-down. From there there is a good path to Ratsek hut on the moraine of northern rand of Ak-Sai glacier at 3350m, 7km, 4-5h from Ala-Archa Camp. There are three other huts higher up the valley, one on Uchitel glacier under the north face first tower of Korona peak (and the spurs of Semyonov-Tien-Shan, 3-4h from Ratsek hut) and two at the junction of the Korona and Aksai glaciers (Korona Huts, ~3800m, 2-3h from Ratsek hut.

Northern Tien Shan

Northern Tien Shan covers areas north of Issyk Kul lake. The best known peak of the area is Pik Talgar (5020m). This part of Tien Shan is most commonly approached from Almaty in Kazakhstan.

  • Zailiysky Alatau Zailiysky Alatau range in northern Tien-Shan is extensive mountain system laying to north from the largest lake of Central Asia, Issyk-Kul, and to the south from Almaty city, which until recently was the capital of Kazakhstan. Here lies Zailiski Alatau range with popular Talgar Peak (5020m or 4937m). The range has several peaks between 4000 and 5000m high around Talgar valley. The area is mainly accessed from Kazakhstan.
  • Kungey-Ala-Too (Akam Kungey-Alatau). Kyungey Ala-Too is a parallel range to Trans-Ili Alatau, located to the north of Issyk Kul lake. Eastern continuation of Kyrgyz Ala-Too range.
  • Maier pp.206-220

Central Tien Shan

Central Tien Shan consists of the mountain ranges that go from south and east of Lake Issyk Kul. For climbers, this is the most fascinating area in Tien Shan. Eastern part of Central Tien Shan is home to highest peaks, dominated by giants Pobeda peak (7439m) and the fantastic pyramid of Khan-Tengri (7010m). These are the two most northerly located 7000-meter mountains in the world, and they attract mountain climbers from all over the world. But it is really surprising that most of the peaks around them have not even been given a name.

The weather of the area is bad. July and August are generally considered the best months for climbing but even then the weather is not very stable. September has more settled weather, but then the temperatures are lower. Access to these areas are usually either from Almaty or Bishkek (capital of Kyrgistan), both of which have international airports.

  • Terskey-Alatau In the western part of Central Tien Shan, immediately south of Issyk-Kul lake, lies Karakol - Djeti-Oguz region. Here the best known mountains are Karakol (5218m), Djety-Oguz (5118m) and Dzhigit (5020m). Most convenient access to most climbs is from Karakol alpine camp, which can be reached from the city of Karakol.
  • Kokshaal-Tau Kokshaal-Tau (or Kokshaal-Too) is a very large mountain range in SE of Kyrgyzstan, on the border between Kyrgyzstan and China. The range stretches for a length of 582 km and includes several peaks above 5000m. The highest and by far most famous peak of the range is Peak Pobeda (7439m), which is located in the eastern part, nor far from Khan Tengri of Internal Tien Shan. Kokshaal Too is often divided into two by Bedel pass (4284m).
  • Internal Tien Shan Internal Tien Shan is are around South and North Inylchek areas, where number of ranges join together. Most of the ranges run west to east and joing at north to south ridge of Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge along which the border between Kazakhstan and China in the north and Kyrgyzstan and China in the south runs. The area is home to highest peaks of entire Tien Shan, Pobeda peak (7439m) on Kokshaal-Too chain and the fantastic pyramid of Khan-Tengri (7010m). These aside, also Saridjaz range in Bayancol area in SW corner of Kazakhstan has several high peaks.

Eastern Tien Shan

Chinese and Russian parts of Tien Shan. Climbing potential of eastern Tien Shan is largely unexplored. The highest peaks of eastern Tien Shan are found on the Chinese groups, not far from 7000ers of Internal Tien Shan.

  • Xuelian Group Xuelian Massif in Chinese Tien Shan is a 15km ridge with at least six distinct summits over 6000m. It is located just across the border from Kyrgyzstan's 6995m Khan Tengri and Inylchek Glaciers. Jed Brown, Kyle Dempster and Bruce Normand's ascent of Xuelian West (6422m), via a hard technical line dubbed the Great White Jade Heist, gained them a prestigious Piolet d'Or in 2010.
  • Bodga range Bogda range is located immediately northeast of Tien Shan range in western China. The heavily glaciated range forms the northern border of Turpan Depression, where elevation is 150m below sea level. The valleys on southern side of the range are hot, dry, very windy, and comparatively treeless, while the northern side is densely covered in forests. The highest peak of the range is Bogda Peak (or Bogda Feng, 5445m). Its close proximity to the local capital of Urumqi makes it a popular mountain for Chinese mountaineers.
  • Altai Altai range is eastern continuation of Bogda range.

Mountains

Kyrgyzskiy

Westernmost group of Northern Tien Shan, sometimes considered to be part of Western Tien Shan instead of belonging to Northern Tien Shan. Kyrgyzskiy range is the most accessible part of Tien Shan, where well-known climbing area of Ala-Archa is located, just 40km away from Bishkek.

Kyrgyzskiy

Semionova Tienskanskogo42.5274.5727777784875
The highest mountain of Ala-Archa.
Korona (Crown Peak)42.509167 74.5663894860
  • 1st Tower (4810m)
  • 2nd Tower (4750m)
  • 3rd Tower
  • 4th Tower
  • 5th Tower (4860m)
  • 6th Tower (4860m42.509167 74.566389)
Korona is a group of six towers rising above the head of Korona glacier, at the end of Ala-Archa valley. Most climbed are 1st Tower (4810m), 5th Tower (4860m) and 6th Tower (4860m). NW side of first tower rises 750m from the glacier and has several difficult rock and ice routes. SW and W faces of 5th and 6th tower rise 800m from upper Ak-Sai glacier and have several very difficult routes.
West side
~3800m. Prominent Korona glacier (35-40) leads to the foot of short rock towers. First and Second towers are popular climbs, both of which start at the col between the two.
1st Tower, from west. Rus 3A/III AD; 4a, 40°; 910m, 5-7h. 1976-01-01First ascentE. Belobabchenko, 1976.
Normal route. From Korona Glacier along ice and snow slopes to the gap between the First and Second Towers (4500m, 3-4h). From the col along south ridge to the top (short sections of steep rock, 2-3h from the col). Descent 2-5h.
2nd Tower, From west. Rus 2A/I PD-; 30°; 1550m, 6-8h in ascent, 2-5h in descent.
Normal route. Easiest route to towers of Korona. Easy rock climb from the col between 1st and 2nd towers.
5th Tower, SW Face "Balezin". Rus 6A/ED2/3. 1994-01-01First ascentE. Balezin, Kokhanov, Obednin, Saveliev & Zakharov, 1994.
NW face
Main wall is very steep with some extremely difficult routes.
1st Tower, North Ridge. Rus 4A; 5.6; 6h.
From Uchitel glacier through steep snow to the col between 1st Tower of Corona and Semionova Tienshanskogo at 4000m (2-3h). From there rocky ridge to the summit (5.6).
Pic Svobodnaya Korea (Free Korea Peak)4740
Premiere mountaineering destination in Ala-Archa valley. Located in the southern end of Ak-Sai glacier, between Ak-Too and Dvurogaya. 900m high and 1000m wide north face has several classic ice and mixed climbs between grades 5A and 6B.
1974-01-01
Pic Svobodnaya Korea, North Face Triangle,
First ascent
North Face Triangle: Bagaev
1976-01-01
Pic Svobodnaya Korea, North Face Central Couloir,
First ascent
North Face Central Couloir: Henry Barber solo
1976-01-01
Pic Svobodnaya Korea, North Face North West Couloir,
First ascent
North Face North West Couloir: Jeff Lowe solo
North face
Classic climbing objective with loads of routes between grades 5A and 6B.
North Face Triangle (Bagaev). Rus 5B/TD+/ED1; 70°, 5.9,A2; 800m. 1974-01-01First ascentBagaev, 1974.
This route climbs the triangular rock buttress on the lower half of the North Face between the Myshliaev Route on the Right-Hand Pillar and the Central Couloir. The route has been climbed free at M6+.
North Face Central Couloir (Barber). Rus 5B/TD; 60-70°; 800m/22 pitches. 1976-01-01First ascentHenry Barber solo, 1976.
Classic ice climb through the obvious couloir in the center of north face. Descent by rappelling down the route. Best conditions between late fall and early March, possible also during the summer, but then stone fall danger.
North Face North West Couloir (Lowe). Rus 5A; 40-55°; 800m. 1976-01-01First ascentJeff Lowe solo, 1976.
Classic right slanting ice couloir to the right of Cenral couloir (Barber Route) and most frequented climb on the north face. From Korona Huts up the couloir up to west ridge (10h) and along the ridge to summit (further 2h). Lower part of the couloir is endangered by ice slides during the day, so early start is essential. Descent by rappelling down the route, over Aktoo and Teketor via Teketor Pass to Ratsek (5-6h) or down to Top-Karagoy valley (easiest, but bivouac necessary). Best conditions between late fall and early March, possible also during the summer, but then stone fall danger.
Uchitel (Teacher)4527
Scrambling on rock and snow (no glacier), accessible to hikers.
Bachichiki (Baychechekey, Baichichi Key)42.53050474.556574515
Located in Ala-Archa valley, to the east of Ratsek hut (3350m). North face has four rock pillars, classic Schwaba route giving seven pitches of rock climbing up to 5.9 (RUS 5A).
North face
Main rock wall around Ratsek hut.
Schwaba. Rock, Rus 5A/TD; IV 5.10a/b; 7 pitches.
Ice Couloir of 3rd Wall. Ice, Rus 5A/TD; 80°; 450m. 1989-01-01First ascentA. Iljushenko, 1989.
Prominent narrow ice couloir on the north face, dropping from the hanging glacier. Sustained ice climbing at 80°. Only climbed during the winter.
SE ridge
SE ridge. Rock, Rus 1B/PD-; 1315m, 1 day.
Normal route. Via Baychechekey Pass.
Teketor4441
Located in Ala-Archa valley, west of Ak-Sai glacier between Peak Boks and Ak-Too.
North ridge
North Ridge. Rus 3A; 5-7h. 1957-01-01First ascentE. Mukhamedova, 1957.
Via snow couloir to Teketor Pass between Teketor and Peak Boks (3900m, mixed at 2A CC, 1-2h from the glacier. From there along ridge to summit, 4-5h from Teketor Pass.
SE ridge
SE Ridge from Ak-Say.
Via broad ice/snow couloir to ridge between Ak-Too and Teketor, mostly 50-60° with final pitch before the ridge 70°). Traverse along the other side of the ridge to summit. Routefinding after reaching the ridge problematic.
Iziskatel (Researcher Peak, Pic Isyskatiel)42.50609874.5606654400
Located close to Korona on the junction of Korona and Ak-Sai glaciers. Fantastic viewpoint of Korona amphitheater and impressive north face of Peak Free Korea.
North side
NE Ridge. Rus 2A/III PD+; 50°; 1200m, 3-4,5h. 1982-01-01First ascentV. Bogoliubov, 1982.
Normal route. Along ice & snow slope to col between 6th Tower of Korona and Iziskatel (East Izyskatel Pass), 2-3h. Bergschrung below the col is the crux of the climb. From the col along mixed east ridge to summit, 1-1,5h from the col.
North Wall. Rus 3B; 4-8h. 1988-01-01First ascentRodicov, 1988.
Through the central part of ice wall (45-55°). There is a big bergschrund below the face, that may be difficult to pass.
From Korona Cirque by West Ridge. Rus 3B; 45°. 1967-01-01First ascentV. Glukhov, 1967.
To West Izyskatel Pass and along rocky west ridge to summit.
Peak Boks42.52297774.5237834240
Located in Ala-Archa valley, on the west side of Ak-Sai glacier opposite of Ratsek hut (3350m). Peak Boks is the northernmost peak on the western side of Ak-Sai.
North side
North Face Left-Hand Couloir. Rus 4A; 60-70°.
From Ratsek hut (3350m) via left hand of the two prominent couloirs on the right side of the face to NW Ridge and along it to summit. Descent to Teketor Pass between Boks and Teketor and down the broad couloir to Ak-Sai glacier (2B).
North Face Right-Hand Couloir. Rus 4A; 60-70°.
Longer and steeper of the couloirs. From Ratsek hut (3350m) via right hand of the two prominent couloirs on the right side of the face. Descent to Teketor Pass between Boks and Teketor and down the broad couloir to Ak-Sai glacier (2B).
South side side
From Teketor Pass. Rus 2A-2B; 3-5h.
Via snow couloir to Teketor Pass between Teketor and Peak Boks (3900m, mixed at 2A CC, 1-2h from the glacier. From there easy snow ridge to summit, 2-3h. Possibly corniced.
Normal route (South face). Rus 1B/F; 1040m, 3h in ascent, 1,5h in descent.
Normal route. Along the path on the left side of Ak-Sai glacier. Across the glacier and up the prominent gully (loose rock).

Zailiysky Alatau

Zailiysky Alatau range in northern Tien-Shan is extensive mountain system laying to north from the largest lake of Central Asia, Issyk-Kul, and to the south from Almaty city, which until recently was the capital of Kazakhstan. Here lies Zailiski Alatau range with popular Talgar Peak (5020m or 4937m). The range has several peaks between 4000 and 5000m high around Talgar valley. The area is mainly accessed from Kazakhstan.

Zailiysky Alatau

Peak Talgar5017
Located in Zailiski mountain range in Northern Tien Shan. It is located close to Kazakh city of Alma-Ata and due to its accessibility, is a popular mountaineering destination.
North side
Normal route. Rus 3A; 2400m.
Normal route. Via Zelionaya Poliana (3100m, Camp) and Surovyi pass (4300m, Camp), which lead to southern side, to summit.
Talgar Traverse. Rus 5A.
From the camp to the Kopr glacier, and along the glacier to the Rakhimova camping site (3600m, camp) and further along the ridge to the Priyut Piati (4500m, camp). From there to Mt. Intau (4850m) and North Talgar, from where traverse main peak (5017m) to south peak and descent by the Baranovski route to South Talgar glacier and down to the Sredni Talgar river valley.

Terskey-Alatau

In the western part of Central Tien Shan, immediately south of Issyk-Kul lake, lies Karakol - Djeti-Oguz region. Here the best known mountains are Karakol (5218m), Djety-Oguz (5118m) and Dzhigit (5020m). Most convenient access to most climbs is from Karakol alpine camp, which can be reached from the city of Karakol.

Karakol (Karakolsky)5218
  • Kopylov pp.124
North side
West side
West ridge. Rus 4B/D-; III, 45-50°; 2600m.
Normal route. Via Djety-Oguz col (4000m).
NW Spur. Rus 5B. 1978-01-01First ascentBelousov, 1978.
Dzhigit (Djigit, The Horseman)5170
  • West (5170m)
  • East (5080m)
Normal route along West ridge is 4A (V. Ratsek). There are several more difficult routes on the peak, particularly on the north face (5-6).
North side
East ridge. Rus 4A. 1939-01-01First ascentV. Ratsek, 1939.
Via Epiur col (4250m) between Albatross peak (4770m) and Djigit and Easp Peak to main summit.

Kokshaal-Tau

Kokshaal-Tau (or Kokshaal-Too) is a very large mountain range in SE of Kyrgyzstan, on the border between Kyrgyzstan and China. The range stretches for a length of 582 km and includes several peaks above 5000m. The highest and by far most famous peak of the range is Peak Pobeda (7439m), which is located in the eastern part, nor far from Khan Tengri of Internal Tien Shan. Kokshaal Too is often divided into two by Bedel pass (4284m).

  • Western Kokshaal-Too Western Kokshaal-Too around Kyzyl-Asker has piqued interest of many visiting climbers during the recent years, where several parties have been drawn to SE face of Kyzyl-Asker and the peaks around it. Also, Eastern part of the group with Pik Dankova (5982m), the highest peak of entire Western Kokshaal-Too. Central part of the range is least explored of the areas.
  • Eastern Kokshaal-Too Kokshaal-Too main ridge runs generally west to east some distance away from South Inylchek with numerous south-north branches reaching into the glacier, not far from South Inylchek Base camp. The main peak of the area is the massive Peak Pobeda (7439m), located on the main range. On its east side, at the junction of Kokshaal-Too main ridge and south-north Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge lies Peak of Military Topographers (6873m). On the northern side branches, Pik Pogrebetskiy (6527m) is the highest peak. Pik Pobeda is pretty much the only regularly climbed climbed objective in the area.

Peak Pobeda aside, generally not a lot is known about the climbing potential of the range. Kokshaal-Tau has nasty and unstable weather, even in the summer.

Western Kokshaal-Too

Western Kokshaal-Too around Kyzyl-Asker has piqued interest of many visiting climbers during the recent years, where several parties have been drawn to SE face of Kyzyl-Asker and the peaks around it. Also, Eastern part of the group with Pik Dankova (5982m), the highest peak of entire Western Kokshaal-Too. Central part of the range is least explored of the areas.

Kyzyl-Asker group

Central group

Dankova group

Internal Tien Shan

Internal Tien Shan is are around South and North Inylchek areas, where number of ranges join together. Most of the ranges run west to east and joing at north to south ridge of Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge along which the border between Kazakhstan and China in the north and Kyrgyzstan and China in the south runs. The area is home to highest peaks of entire Tien Shan, Pobeda peak (7439m) on Kokshaal-Too chain and the fantastic pyramid of Khan-Tengri (7010m). These aside, also Saridjaz range in Bayancol area in SW corner of Kazakhstan has several high peaks.

Khan Tengri is well known and attracts climbers from all over the world. But it is really surprising that most of the peaks around them have not even been given a name. The area is remote and extensively glaciated, virtually all access to base camps is done using the helicopters. July and August are generally considered the best months for climbing but even then the weather is not very stable. September has more settled weather, but then the temperatures are lower.

  • Kuyliu Located west of Saridjaz and south of Terskey Ala-Too. Some peaks rise to above 5000m but none of them is well known climbing objective.
  • Saridjaz Saridjaz chain of peaks is located to the north of Inylchek river and North Inylcheg glacier, not far north from Khan Tengri. The range runs from west to east, with the peaks furthest to the east being the highest of the range, culminating at stunning Mramornaya Stena (Marble Wall) (6400m). The other high peaks of the chain are Kazakhstan (5761m), Bayancol (5841m), Semionova (5816m), Karli-Tau (5450m), Pogranichnik (5258m). Many of the peaks being relatively easy. Several climbs have been done from Bayancol valley located to the north of the range. Some routes have also been climbed from North Inylchek glacier.
  • Tengri Tag Tengri Tag group consists of a single ridge running from west to east between North and South Inylchek glaciers. The range is dominated by fantastic pyramid of Khan-Tengri (7010m). Besides it, Gorky Peak (6050,) in the western part of the ridge and East Shatyor (the Marquee, East, 6637m) are the other main peaks of the range.
  • Engilchek Tau Located between Inychek river valley and South Inylchek glacier in the north and Kaindy glacier in the south. The highest peaks of the range is Nanseana Peak (5697m).
  • Kaindy-Jatta range Sqeuuzed between Engilchek Tau in the north and Kokshaal Tau in the south. Several summits well above 5000m.
  • Eastern Kokshaal-Too Kokshaal-Too main ridge runs generally west to east some distance away from South Inylchek with numerous south-north branches reaching into the glacier, not far from South Inylchek Base camp. The main peak of the area is the massive Peak Pobeda (7439m), located on the main range. On its east side, at the junction of Kokshaal-Too main ridge and south-north Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge lies Peak of Military Topographers (6873m). On the northern side branches, Pik Pogrebetskiy (6527m) is the highest peak. Pik Pobeda is pretty much the only regularly climbed climbed objective in the area.

Saridjaz

Saridjaz chain of peaks is located to the north of Inylchek river and North Inylcheg glacier, not far north from Khan Tengri. The range runs from west to east, with the peaks furthest to the east being the highest of the range, culminating at stunning Mramornaya Stena (Marble Wall) (6400m). The other high peaks of the chain are Kazakhstan (5761m), Bayancol (5841m), Semionova (5816m), Karli-Tau (5450m), Pogranichnik (5258m). Many of the peaks being relatively easy. Several climbs have been done from Bayancol valley located to the north of the range. Some routes have also been climbed from North Inylchek glacier.

Tengri Tag

Tengri Tag group consists of a single ridge running from west to east between North and South Inylchek glaciers. The range is dominated by fantastic pyramid of Khan-Tengri (7010m). Besides it, Gorky Peak (6050,) in the western part of the ridge and East Shatyor (the Marquee, East, 6637m) are the other main peaks of the range.

Eastern Kokshaal-Too

Eastern Kokshaal-Too is separated from the western part of the chain by Bedel pass (4284m). The highest and most famous peak of the range, Peak Pobeda (7439m), is located at the eastern end of the chain, just south of South Inylchek glacier. Here Kokshaal Too main ridge is some 15-20 km south of the glacier with several south-north side vranches reaching into glacier. Pik Pobeda is pretty much the only regularly climbed objective in Eastern Kokshaal-Too, although some peaks close by it have seen some ascents.

  • Engilchek Tau Located between Inychek river valley and South Inylchek glacier in the north and Kaindy glacier in the south. The highest peaks of the range is Nanseana Peak (5697m).
  • Kokshaal-Too main chain Kokshaal-Too main ridge runs generally west to east some distance away from South Inylchek with numerous south-north branches reaching into the glacier, not far from South Inylchek Base camp. The main peak of the area is the massive Peak Pobeda (7439m), located on the main range. On its east side, at the junction of Kokshaal-Too main ridge and south-north Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge lies Peak of Military Topographers (6873m). On the northern side branches, Pik Pogrebetskiy (6527m) is the highest peak. Pik Pobeda is pretty much the only regularly climbed climbed objective in the area.
  • Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge runs generally north to south, differing from all other main ridges. Saridjaz, Tengri-Tag and Koshaal-Too all join to Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge close to the end of Inylchek glaciers. The border between Kyrgyzstan and China in the south ans Kazakhstan and China further north follows more or less the ridge. The section of the ridge between Tengri Tag (East Shatyor aka East Marquee, 6637m) and Kokshal-Too (Peak of Military Topographers, 6873m) is very high with several summits well above 6000m such as Rapasova (6801m).

Kokshaal-Too main chain

Kokshaal-Too main ridge runs generally west to east some distance away from South Inylchek with numerous south-north branches reaching into the glacier, not far from South Inylchek Base camp. The main peak of the area is the massive Peak Pobeda (7439m), located on the main range. On its east side, at the junction of Kokshaal-Too main ridge and south-north Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge lies Peak of Military Topographers (6873m). On the northern side branches, Pik Pogrebetskiy (6527m) is the highest peak. Pik Pobeda is pretty much the only regularly climbed climbed objective in the area.

Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge

Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge runs generally north to south, differing from all other main ridges. Saridjaz, Tengri-Tag and Koshaal-Too all join to Meridionalniy Khrebit ridge close to the end of Inylchek glaciers. The border between Kyrgyzstan and China in the south ans Kazakhstan and China further north follows more or less the ridge. The section of the ridge between Tengri Tag (East Shatyor aka East Marquee, 6637m) and Kokshal-Too (Peak of Military Topographers, 6873m) is very high with several summits well above 6000m such as Rapasova (6801m).

Saridjaz

Mramornaya Stena (Marble Wall, Marble Peak)42.250780.22906400
The highest peak in Bayancol area and the northernmost six-thousand peak in Asia.
1946-01-01
Mramornaya Stena, via Pogranichnik mountain,
First ascent
via Pogranichnik mountain: V. Naumenko
1953-01-01
Mramornaya Stena, ,
First ascent
V. Shipilov
NE side
via Pogranichnik mountain. Rus 4B; 50°; 4200m. 1946-01-01First ascentV. Naumenko, 1946.
Normal route. By North-East ridge from Chinese pass (4000) through Uzlovaya (4900) and Pogranitchnik (5000) summits; further by the north ridge to Fore-summit (5900) and by long flat ridge (2 km) to the summit.
Bayancol5791
Located on Sary-djas ridge in the central Thien-shan between the Kazakhstan and the Odinnadzaty peak.
North side
North ridge. Rus 4B.
Normal route. Reportedly the easiest of three main peaks of Bayancol valley and comparable to Mont Blanc or Elbrus (~PD).
Karli-Tau5450
North side
Popov. Rus 4A. 1968-01-01First ascentV. Popov, 1968.

Tengri Tag

Khan Tengri (Khan Tangiri Shyngy)42.2180.1758333336995
Located in eastern part of Khan Tengri range. It is classic pyramid shape mountain. There are equipped camps (IMC) both on southern and northern Inylchek glaciers. Normal routes from both sides climb the west ridge from West Saddle (5900m) between Khan Tengri and Pik Chapaev (6371m). South side is possible slightly easier and has been more popular, but it is also more dangerous.
1931-01-01
Khan Tengri, Pogrebetsky,
First ascent
Pogrebetsky: M. Pogrebetsky
1973-01-01
Khan Tengri, SE ridge,
First ascent
SE ridge: V. Voronin
1974-01-01
Khan Tengri, Studenin,
First ascent
Studenin: B. Studenin
1974-01-01
Khan Tengri, West Ridge from North,
First ascent
West Ridge from North: Solomatov
1975-01-01
Khan Tengri, Belkin,
First ascent
Belkin: Belkin
1982-01-01
Khan Tengri, Sviridenko's Route,
First ascent
Sviridenko's Route: V. Sviridenko
1931-01-01
Khan Tengri, Pogrebetsky,
First ascent
Pogrebetsky: M. Pogrebetsky
1973-01-01
Khan Tengri, SE ridge,
First ascent
SE ridge: V. Voronin
1974-01-01
Khan Tengri, Studenin,
First ascent
Studenin: B. Studenin
1974-01-01
Khan Tengri, West Ridge from North,
First ascent
West Ridge from North: Solomatov
1975-01-01
Khan Tengri, Belkin,
First ascent
Belkin: Belkin
1982-01-01
Khan Tengri, Sviridenko's Route,
First ascent
Sviridenko's Route: V. Sviridenko
  • World Mountaineering pp.198-201
  • Forbidden Mountains pp.127-130
  • Maier pp.229-230
  • Mountain Info, #494 issue: 12, date: 2006-02.'Khan Tengri'
  • +Belles pp.157-158
North side
North face proper is very steep face almost 3000m high. All routes on the face are extremely difficult. The easiest route from the north side avoids the north face proper by climbing distinct north spur of Pik Chapaen, then descending to West col and finally climbing the West ridge.
Belkin (East Buttress to North ridge). Rus 5B; 3210m. 1975-01-01First ascentBelkin, 1975.
Almost mirror image of Solomatov route.
Studenin. Rus 6B; 2800m. 1974-01-01First ascentB. Studenin, 1974.
Direct central route.
  • World Mountaineering #9
West Ridge from North (Solomatov). Rus 5B/D; 50°; 3210m, 5 days. 1974-01-01First ascentSolomatov, 1974.
Normal route. Along the north ridge of Pik Chapaev (6371m) to its summit (III AD), from there down to West Col (5900m) and along West Ridge to summit.
  • World Mountaineering #1
South side
The actual south face is fairly small but steep triangular face. From its top prominent Marble rib (SW rib) leads to the summit.
Pogrebetsky (West Ridge). Rus 5A/D; Sco III; 3000m. 1931-01-01First ascentM. Pogrebetsky, 1931.
Normal route. Via West saddle (5900m) and West Ridge. Camp 1 at 4100m (2-4h), Camp 2 in the middle of highly dangerous Semenevskogo glacier ice fall at 5900m, Camp 3 in the saddle at 5900m and possibly Camp 4 at 6400m on West Ridge.
  • World Mountaineering #2
Sviridenko's Route (SSW and SW Rib). Rus 6B; 3000m. 1982-01-01First ascentV. Sviridenko, 1982.
From Camp at 4100m up SSW Rib to join SW Rib (Marble Rib) route.
  • World Mountaineering #4
SE ridge. 3000m. 1973-01-01First ascentV. Voronin, 1973.
Pik Maksim Gorky (Gorki)42.185980.08596050
1962-01-01
Pik Maksim Gorky, ,
First ascent
B. Gavrilov
2002-08-08
Pik Maksim Gorky, NW face,
First ascent
NW face: Yuri Ermachek, Vadim Popovich & Alexander Korobkov
NW face
NW face. Rus 6B/ED2; 1500m. 2002-08-08First ascentYuri Ermachek, Vadim Popovich & Alexander Korobkov, 2002-08-08.

Meridional

Pik Vojennich Topografov42.05194444480.2458333336873
Located at the junction of Kokshaal-Too and Meridionalniy Khrebit ridges, on the Kyrgyzstan-China border, to the east of Pik Pobeda. It is separated from Pobeda East by Chron Teren pass (5488m). Chinese south side is rockier and steeper than the north side. North side ascent via Zvezdochka glacier to Chon Teren pass (5500 m) then along NW spur to summit.
1965-08-15
Pik Vojennich Topografov, ,
First ascent
A. Vododokhov
Tailan Feng (NW) (Pik Rapasov (NW))42.06333333380.2827777786850
1990-08-13
Tailan Feng (NW), ,
First ascent
A. Novikov
Tailan Feng Central (Pik Rapasov Central)42.062580.2941666676814
1905-06-10
Tailan Feng Central, ,
First ascent
Party from Rus
Tugbelqi Feng (Pik Druzhba, Tugaibelychi Feng)42.12083333380.2669444446800
1953-09-07
Tugbelqi Feng, ,
First ascent
A. Nozdrjukhin
Pik Pogrebetskiy6527

Xuelian Group

Xuelian Massif in Chinese Tien Shan is a 15km ridge with at least six distinct summits over 6000m. It is located just across the border from Kyrgyzstan's 6995m Khan Tengri and Inylchek Glaciers. Jed Brown, Kyle Dempster and Bruce Normand's ascent of Xuelian West (6422m), via a hard technical line dubbed the Great White Jade Heist, gained them a prestigious Piolet d'Or in 2010.

Xuelian Feng (Xuelian Main, Snow Lotus Peak)42.26166780.896627
China, Xinjiang, Tien Shan, Xuelian Group.
1990-08-19
Xuelian Feng, ,
First ascent
Motochiro Fujita, Hideki Sakai, Mikio Suzuki, Etuo Nishikawa, Hiroshi Kojiri, Takuo Kato, Reiji Takahashi & Kazuo Tukushima from south via South ridge of Junction peak.
  • +Belles, pp.155
Xueling West6422
Xueling NE6249

Bodga range

Bogda range is located immediately northeast of Tien Shan range in western China. The heavily glaciated range forms the northern border of Turpan Depression, where elevation is 150m below sea level. The valleys on southern side of the range are hot, dry, very windy, and comparatively treeless, while the northern side is densely covered in forests. The highest peak of the range is Bogda Peak (or Bogda Feng, 5445m). Its close proximity to the local capital of Urumqi makes it a popular mountain for Chinese mountaineers.

Bogda Peak (Bogda Feng)5445
Highest peak in Bogda range. Access is reasonably easy, but all routes involve difficult climbing.
1981-06-10
Bogda Peak, NE Ridge,
First ascent
NE Ridge: K. Miyagawa, M. Nakazima, T. Fujibayashi, E. Ohno, S. Yamada, A. Mishima, H. Nose, S. Kaneko & Kyoko Endo
NE Ridge. Rus 5A/TD-; V; 1850m. 1981-06-10First ascentK. Miyagawa, M. Nakazima, T. Fujibayashi, E. Ohno, S. Yamada, A. Mishima, H. Nose, S. Kaneko & Kyoko Endo, 1981-06-10.
Normal route. Steep snow and ice. Base camp at 3600m and camps usually at 3850m, 4400m and 5500m, two high camps may be enough for fast parties.