Pearls of Russia
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Mysterious, majestic, wild mountain system of Pamiro-Alai, investigated only in a few, is situated in the Middle Asia to south from Ferganskaya valley between Dushanbe and Samarkand towns. With its name to be translated from Percian as "The World's roof Paradise", it's composed of a lot of rock huge bastions, stretching for 800 km between Pamir itself and Tien-Shan along five main ranges: Alaiskiy, Turkestanskiy, Zeravshanskiy, Gissarskiy and Karateginskiy and conventionally divided in four regions such as: Fanskie Mountains together with Zamin-Karor group, Aksu & Sabakh regions, Asan-Usen & Matcha region and finally High Alai (Kok-Su and Dugoba regions), where there are a lot of summits higher 4000 meters and not less then thirty ones are even above 5000 meter.
All this vest region of rock cliffs bastions is similar and reminding in a forms, outlines and in fitures of climbing sometimes even excels other not less popular regions such as Fitz Roy peak in South Patagonia and even its Honour Trango Tower in Karakoram. There are still a lot of unclimbed, untouched and untrodden rock faces and even summits.
The highest point of Pamiro-Alai system is Mt. Skalistiy - 5,621 m above sea level. Mysterious, wild, hardly explored because of the lengthy and difficult approach, this region has many faces and even some summits that to this day have not been climbed. Only less than half of the Turkestanskiy range, one of the five main sectors of the Pamiro-Alai system, has been explored. By moving westwards one can find totally unknown mountains that have been sighted only by helicopters during reconnaissance flights. There are no organised alpine camp facilities; the roads are few and far between as well as narrow and steep, and have no regular connecting service. You can organise bus or truck transportation, but the guide must be an expert from the area because it is easy to get lost here. It is much simpler and safer to use a helicopter at the nearest airport, at Khodzhent (formerly Lenindabad), which is also the ideal starting point for a tour of the lovely Fergana valley.
Extremely dificult climbings in all this region coming sometimes beyond the limit are enduring in souls for a long time after.
Fanskie Mountain Region
This range consists of about 100 beautiful peaks situated at the western end of the Pamiro- Alai system. Ten mountains are over 5,000 meters high and have faces over 2,000 m high. Among the loveliest and most interesting from a mountaineering standpoint are Mt. Chapdara (5,050 m), Mt. Bodkhona (5,138 m), Mt. Zamok (Castle, 5,070m ) and Mt. Zindon (4,800 m). The highest point in the region is Chimtarga peak (5,487 m), which has routes of varying degrees of difficulty. The normal one, which is not interesting, skirts the mountain from the southeast and reaches the summit from the north, while the more difficult routes that wind up along the southern and western faces are beautiful. The area can be reached either by helicopter from Samarkand or Dushanbe, or by travelling from twelve to fourteen hours on a road cut out of the rock that winds up precipices hundreds of meters high. Often the road is so narrow that only one vehicle can pass, so that mountain climbers have to "regulate" traffic from the camp: in the morning vehicles can go up and in the late afternoon they can descend. The good season is short; the sun shines every day only in August. The region is rich in water, rivers and lakes. Expeditions coming from the north usually set up the base camp near the splendid Alaudinskie lakes, in the Chapdara river valley, about an hour and a half walk from the end of the road.
Aksu region in Pamiro-Alai
Situated about 120 km south of the city of Khodzhent, the Aksu region is truly extraordinary with its beautiful unspoiled nature and exceptional mountains. These are vertical rock peaks of compact granite, with faces more than 1,500 meters high that are often more than 5,000 meters above sea level: Mt. Aksu (5,355 m), first climbed by Leonid Troshchinenko in 1982 along the northern face; Mt. Alexander Blok (5,239 m), where Sergei Efimov opened a new 6-rated route in 1983 up the northern face; Petrogradets (5,163 m), lskander (5,120 m) and Admiralteets (5,090 m). The area was first explored in 1982, when, during a helicopter reconnaissance made to determine the conditions of the glaciers and snowficids, it was decided to examine the highest mountains in the Turkestanskiy range more closely. On passing over the Liayliak river valley, the mountaineers were amazed by the sheer verticality of the northern face of the barren Aksu triangle that dominated the other 5,000 meter peaks in the region. This area was therefore chosen as the site of the 1983 Soviet Alpinist Championship, which led to its becoming well-known as an extremely interesting mountaineering region. Most of the routes, which have been opened in the last ten years, follow cracks and chimneys that are often blocked by ice. At times the difficulty of the climbs reduces the average pace to 80-100 meters per day, and this is aggravated by the fact that you must take along the bivouac gear and food for ten to fifteen days up to the top.
In 1983 the Alai alpine camp was established along the green banks of the Aksu river (in Kyrgyz "Aksu" means "pure waters") at 2,800 m above sea level; it is connected to the town of Khodzhent by means of a practicable road. The lovely valleys and easily accessible passes in this region make it an ideal spot for hiking and horseback riding as well. A very pleasant route, from which you can admire the barren faces of Mt. Aksu, starts at the base camp. Head east and go up the Aksu valley through a thick forest (I hour 30 minutes); after arriving at the moraine (30 minutes), continue on the Aksu glacier for about two hours. Here you are rewarded with a magnificent view of the northern face of northern Aksu. Keep to the left and in less than an hour you will reach an easy rock slope that leads to the summit of a mountain (1-2 hours) 4,200 meters high from which you can see the eastern slope of Mt. Alexander Blok, the northern part of Mt. Aksu, and Mt. lskander.