Slovenian climbs in Central Tien Shan
Last summer Ales Holc, Matej Smrkolj e Tadej Kriselj carried out the first ascent of Slovenian birthday party (TD+, 1000m) on the North Face of Pik Parashutny 5360m. Tine Marence and Andrej Magajne carried out the probabile first repeat of thee Slovenian Route on Pik Troglav and a quick ascent of Khan Tengry (7010m).
Reports from the magnificent Central Tien Shan are few and far between and usually concentrate around Pik Pobeda (7439m). This summer two Slovenian expeditions headed to this area and while they believe their climbs are not cutting edge, they are nevertheless unusual and thus noteworthy. The two teams operated independently above the South Engilchek glacier in Central Tien Shan. Ales Holc, Matej Smrkolj and Tadej Kriseljcarried out the first ascent of the N face of Pik Parashutny (5360 m), while Tine Marence and Andrej Magajne managed the second ascent of the Slovenian route on the N Face of northern Pik Troglav (5200 m) and a one day ascent of Khan Tengry (7010 m).
Pik Parashutny, Slovenian birthday party TD+, 1000m
On 27/07/2008 Ales Holc, Matej Smrkolj and Tadej Kriselj ascended the hitherto unclimbed 1000m m high North Face of Pik Parashutny 5360m. They three took a direct line to the summit and poor conditions on the upper section (read very dry snow and loose ice) forced them to traverse right onto the NE ridge circa 150m below the summit. Difficulties in the lower part of the climb were mostly good snow and ice up to 70°, while climbing through the upper barrier became steeper and objectively dangerous. After 10 hours and 30 cm of fresh snow they decided not to go for the summit but opted to descend the western couloir before the risk of avalanches became even higher. They reached the Zvezdochka glacier at nightfall and from there walked for a further hour to reach their tent, located in the third valley to the East from South Engilchek base camp.
Slovenian route – Pik Troglav, ED- (V/4+, rock up to V UIAA, M5), 1000 m
On 26/07/08 another team from Slovenia comprised of Tine Marence and Andrej Magajne arrived at South Engilchek base camp after a mere two day journey (Ljubljana located at 200m to base camp (4000 m) using plane, jeep and helicopter). Just a week after arriving they chose to acclimatise by climbing the 1000 m North Face of Pik Troglav (5200m) which had probably only been climbed twice before from the north. In 1980 a Russian team spent 5 days climbing the rocky NE Ridge, while in 1995 Tomaz Jakofcic, Peter Meznar and Blaz Stres first ascended the Slovenian route (ED-). On 30th July Marence and Magajne carried out what is thought to be the first repeat of the Slovenian route, finding changeable conditions which worsened in the upper part of the climb. The headwall was loaded with fresh snow and the two spent the night without any bivy gear on the exposed ridge just below the north summit of Troglav, which they reached early next morning after 18 hours of effective climbing. On both days they enjoyed perfect weather.
The two then continued their acclimatisation process for their main objective, the south face of Pik Chapaev, 6371m with an extremely quick ascent of nearby Khan Tengry. Andrej Magajne knew this well as in 2007 he had turned back 50 m shy of the summit due to storm conditions, while Italian climbing partner Luca Vuerich reached the summit. This year Magajne and Marence set off at 6.00 p.m. on 09/08/08 and Camp 3 (5800m) at 1.00 am where they took a 3 hour break. They reached the summit 18 hours after leaving BC, and once again the two enjoyed perfect weather and excellent views onto the Tien Shan mountain range. Due to exhaustion and difficult terrain in the bottleneck between Han and Chapaev they stopped for the night in camp 3 and returned to BC for breakfast.
At this point all was now set for their main objective, the south face of Pik Chapaev 6371m. But as so often happens their luck ran out and bad weather set in. After waiting for a week in BC for conditions to improve, Tine Marence and Andrej Magajne were forced to give up and flew back to civilisation.