Mountaineering in Tien-Shan & Pamir

Traditional Areas


Mountains 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  

The most popular and mostly visited region in Kyrgyz range is area of the Ak-Sai glacier in the Ala-Archa canyon, Karakol and Jety- Oguz and Western Kokshal-Too.

 Ala-Archa: More than 160 routes have been taken here. The routes are of different complexity from the easy ones to the most difficult walls up to 1100 meters high (Svobodnya Korea peak). Rocky ridge belts around the Ak- Sai, Nauka and Uchitel glaciers in a horseshoe shape. It includes the following summits: Box (4,200m), Teke-Tor (4,441m), Ak-Too (4,600m), Svobodnaya Korea (4,740m), Simagin (4,400m), Bailyan-Bashi (4,700m), Cosmonavtov (4,200m), Dvurogaya (4,380m), Corona (4,855m), Semenov-Tienshanskyi (4,895m), Skryabina (4,650m), Baichichekei (4,515m) and  Uchitel (4,527m)

Ala-Archa Nature Park is located only 42 km far from Bishkek and it is the biggest gorge of Kyrgyz Range. Summits there lift up to the altitude of 4895 m (the highest point of the Range is Semenov-Tien-Shanskiy Peak). Climbing routes are rock, combined, seldom ice and snow-ice. The rocks
consist of tough granite and granodiorite. Difference of altitudes is up to1100 m in the Gorge. The least amount of precipitation falls in August and
September while the largest one in May and June. Average temperature is -12° C in winter, -7° C in autumn, and +3° C spring

The most popular area among trekker, climbers and tourists in Kyrgyz Range is Ak-Sai Glacier. About 150 routes from the simplest to the most complicated walls lifting up to 1100 m have been explored there. There are four mountain huts in the area of the Glacier, three huts are small
(roughly 4X4 m) and one stone made hut is more comfortable and appropriate for tourists. 36 persons can be accommodated here at the same time. Usually it takes about 5 hours of walking from the road in Ala-Archa Park to, so called, Ratzek stop.

Lyalak and Karavsin:The canyons are located on the northern slopes of the Turkestanskyi range and administrated by Lyalakskyi raion of the Batken oblast.

This is “paradise” for climbers. Rocks of the region are similar to Southern Patagonia by its structure and composition. It’s sometimes referred as Kyrgyz Patagonia but unlike the original weather is much warmer here and extent of walls is much longer. For example, the northern wall of Ak-Suu peak is 2,000 m high. Rocks are composed with solid, monolith granites, limestones and sandstones.

Great opportunity for technical climbs on the known routes as well as first ascents and new routes are at climber’s disposal. Warm weather settles from mid June till September. Major precipitation is in autumn. The first climbers visited area in 1936 during geological expeditions. Their names are well-known: Vitalyi and Eugenie Abalakovi, Maleinov, Austrian mountaineer Lorenz Saladin and the others. Then they unsuccessfully endeavored
to ascent the highest peak of the region Piramidalnyi (5,509m). Since that time the region has been forgotten for almost 50 years. The modern exploration started in 1982 with the Russian expedition under leadership of Leonid Trochinenko to the Lyalak gorge. Later in 1986
Karavshin gorge was chosen as the ground for Climbing Championship of the USSR. This one region has more extremely difficult routes of grade B than in all Kyrgyzstan (more than 100).
There are more than 50 grade 2-5 routes in the area.

The region is accessed by road from Osh and Batken towns. Beside main road there is also air service connecting Bishkek with Osh and Batken. If you go to Laylak, you should first drive to Katran village and from there one day hike or horse riding to the climbing start. If going to Karavshin, you should drive to Vorukh village and from there one day walk or horse riding. The rout to Karavshin lies through Tadjik enclave Vorukh. For each crossing it’s required to have Tadjik visa (if your country has visa system with Tadjikistan). However, this issue can be “solved” right at the spot
though there is no guarantee. Usually to deliver loads from the end of the road to base camps horses are used and can be rented right in the villages. Fresh fruit and vegetables of good quality are available here and even cheaper than in Bishkek or Osh. Other supplies, petrol for primus stoves and gas is better to stock in Osh or Bishkek. 

Karakol and Jety- Oguz: The highest peaks, the most interesting itineraries and the highest walls of the Terskey Ala- Too range are located here. The highest peaks are Jigit (5,170m), Karakolskyi (5,256m) and Oguz- Bashi (5,120m). More than 150 routes have been developed here varying from the easiest to the very difficult ones. Mostly routes are rocky or combined, however ice-snow or snow routes are not frequently found. Elevation is 1,500 m. In the upper reaches of canyons, routes are mostly combined and in the middle area are mostly rocky.

The Karakol canyon is administrated by Aksuiskyi raion and Jety-Oguz canyon by Jetyoguzskyi raion of Issik-Kul oblast. Both canyons are located to the south of eastern edge of lake Issik-Kul on the northern slopes of Terskey Ala-Too range. The climate of the region is considerably milder then of the Central Tien-Shan much depending on true altitudes and proximity to lake Issik-Kul. Annual precipitation is quite heavy – up to 2000 millimeters. It mostly falls in the beginning of summer, however snow and thunder storms are common for July and August as well. The weather is more settled in September but autumn is much colder in mountains than summer. The best time for climbing is July – September.

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 raions. Territory to the east of Kotur canyon is Jetyoguzskyi raion of the Issikkulskay 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 is located to the center part of the range. Drawing imaginary line from the very center 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