landscape image - Tien Shan
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  • Fly to: Almaty Kazakhstan

  • Internal Transfer: Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Karakol (Kyrgyzstan) in minibus (9hrs 30mins)

  • Karakol, Kyrgyzstan - Inylchek (9hrs) in an Ex-Soviet off road Military Truck

  • Ex-Soviet military helicopter flight up the Inylchek glacier (35mins)

  • Visa required: Yes if British for both Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan

  • Currency:Tenge (Kazakhstan) & Som (Kyrgyzstan)

  • Time Zone:+6hrs GMT

  • Journal:Click here

Day 19, 06/08/08: Tien Shan

Up & ready to leave camp 2 at 8:00am because the 'unclimbed' Adventure Peaks team were following us up the mountain it meant that we could leave all our tents pitched (a great help since I'd dug the snow-shutes in pretty deep!). I was on fire today, absolutely flying down the mountain...then we hit 'shit tower' (named because quite frankly stank of shit).

A vertical ice/rock wall which proved the hardest section of the whole mountain! I was feeling pretty composed until half way down the tower my crampon fell clean-off! Oh F*ck, everything went in slow motion except my heart! I could feel it pounding through my whole body; 'think girl think' - after informing my fellow climber (in a rather wobbly high pitched voice) I clipped on my safety & quickly tied off my belay plate, the whole time whilst trying to keep enough pressure on my foot to keep hold of my crampon. I eventually gave myself enough slack to sit back in my harness & reach down to reattach it. As I was trying to clip up the back, it kept pushing the crampon further out; after a very nervous 5 minute fumble it was on - I don't think I took a breath during the whole incident.

It was a long, hot slog down to camp 1 & we were greeted by the 'unclimbed' peaks team. They kindly offered us a hot cup of tea, with tea bags & real milk - wow it was good! They were telling us that as they were coming up the Russian girl from the rope snapping incident on shit tower was being taken down; apparently she suffered severe abdominal & rib injuries but they were optimistic that she would survive - thankfully. The other team also informed us how unstable the route down had become since the snow fall; the morning they climbed up 5 avalanches had occurred & the snow still hadn't had time to properly consolidate.

We waited for all our team to arrive & then we set off for the moraine, then the glacier & finally base camp. Coming down it was obvious that the fixed lines had been destroyed by the avalanches; huge crevasses had opened up where previously there had been no signs. Once we reached the morraine it was quite relaxing to sit at the bottom chatting, knowing that we had now fully accomplished our mountain. Crossing the glacier proved extremely difficult, especially route finding due to the melt. Massive water ways had opened up, some so big they were impossible to cross; the power of the turquoise gushing water was immense. So surreal it almost looked like a water theme park.

When we reached base camp Mischa was waiting to congratulate us with freshly cut water melon - in the heat of the day it tasted fantastic! Looking back up at Peak Chapayev whilst eating water melon was great, just knowing we'd done it! We then moved onto a Pringles feast & whilst sat in the base camp tent we heard what sounded like a massive plane crash. The roar sent us & the locals running out of the tent; the whole slope from camp 1 had avalanched; I've never seen or heard anything like it. As we stood watching the avalanche cloud came rushing towards us from the other side of the glacier, the snow spray hitting us was surreal in its immediacy (bearing in mind it took us approx 1.5 hrs to cross). So glad we were off that mountain. Mischa also informed us that the helicopter may be unable to collect us tomorrow as a light aircraft had crashed into the mountains & there was a recovery team looking for 5 bodies.