In the summer of 2001 we organized and carried out five expeditions to Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus, Russia and two expeditions in the Kun-Lun Mountains, China. About 80 climbers and trekkers from South Africa, Finland, Holland and France were our clients and all of them achieved success in their climbs and treks.


We thank all our friends, colleagues and partners that helped us to do our expeditions - Mr. Sean Disney and Mr. David Ker (Adventure Dynamics, South Africa), Mr. Kenneth Nordstrom (Finland), Mrs. Gody Bekker (Edward Bekker Ski & Alpinisme, Holland), Mrs. Gerry Bouma (Holland), Mrs. Ulrike Kiefer and Mrs. Jenny Paterson (the Mountain Club of South Africa), Mr. Anatoly Moshnikov and Mr. Sergey Kalmykov (CET Neva, Russia), Mr. Nikolay Shchetnikov (Dostuck-Trekking, Kirghizstan), Mr. Sergey Dudashvili (Asia Mountains, Kirghizstan), Mr. Eduard Han (Club Vezdekhod, Kirghizstan), Mr. Kong Baocun (China Xinjiang Mountaineering Association).

Mt. Elbrus from Camp 4500
Mt. Elbrus from Camp 4500 m

Garabashi Station
Garabashi Station, 3750 m

Mt. Viatau, Mt. Trapezium and Mt. Gumachi in the Adylsu Valley
Mt. Viatau (3820 m), Mt. Trapezium (3740 m) and Mt. Gumachi (3805 m) in the Adylsu Valley


    Two groups of Adventure Dynamics, South Africa visited the Central Caucasus this summer. The first group included twelve climbers and worked from July 12 till July 22. Mr. David Ker was the team leader and Mrs. Marina Ershova worked with the group as a mountain guide of Ersh Travels. Mr. Vladimir Primenko was her assistant.

    The group had a very short climbing programme but in spite of not very good acclimatization 11 members with their guides summited Mt. Elbrus (5642 m) on July 17 - on the fourth day of their staying in the Baksan Valley! One member had a problem with his stomach and was forced to come down from the altitude about 5000 m.

    The second group included seven climbers and worked from August 2 till August 14. The group was led by Mr. Sean Disney and Mrs. Marina Ershova worked with the group as a mountain guide.

    This group used our standard 13-days programme and before the ascent of Mt. Elbrus the team members did several acclimatization hikes in the Baksan and Adylsu valleys. They climbed Mt. Cheget (3410 m) on August 4, hiked to the upper part of the Adylsu Valley and the Djankuat Glacier on August 5 and did snow-ice training on the Bashkara Glacier on August 6. Having good acclimatization all seven climbers with their guide successfully summited Mt. Elbrus (5642 m) on August 10.


Five Finnish climbers with their team leader Mr. Kenneth Nordstrom did their Elbrus trip from July 21 till August 8. They came to the Caucasus by train via St.Petersburg and were accommodated at the Wolfram Hotel in Terskol. Their expedition programme was very interesting and included several climbs in the Adylsu Valley and the ascent of Mt. Elbrus. They decided to work without our guide (we think that it was not very right decision) and as a result they had some problems during their climbs. But four of them could overcome all difficulties and summited Mt. Elbrus.


This group was organized by Edward Bekker Ski & Alpinisme, Holland, included nine climbers and worked from July 29 till August 12. Mr. Valery Ivanov and Mrs. Svetlana Ivanova were their mountain guides of Ersh Travels.

Before the ascent of Mt. Elbrus the group did several hikes and climbs in the area of the Baksan Valley for acclimatization. The team members climbed Mt. Cheget (3410 m) on July 31, Mt. Trapezium (3740 m) on August 3 and did ice training on the Kashkatash Glacier on August 4.

As other our groups this group did acclimatization on the slopes of Mt. Elbrus and set a camp on 4500 m. Started from that camp all members summited Mt. Elbrus (5642 m) on August 8. The group included very sporting persons with good acclimatization and it took only 5 hours for them to reach the top from their tents.


The expedition worked from September 1 till September 15 and included eight Dutch climbers. Mrs. Gerry Bouma was the team leader and Mr. Andrey Ershov worked with the expedition as a mountain guide.

Some of the team members were strong and experienced enough climbers and on the spot they decided to expand the expedition climbing programme. As a result they did three successful climbs in the Baksan and Adylsu valleys - they climbed Mt. Cheget (3410 m), Mt. Viatau (3820 m) and Mt. Gumachi (3805 m).

Before the ascent of Mt. Elbrus the expedition members did an acclimatization hike to the ruins of the Priyut-11 Hut (4200 m) and spent one night at Garabashi Station (3750 m). Then they pitched a tent camp on the altitude about 4500 m. Started from that camp 7 members with their guide reached the summit of Mt. Elbrus (5642 m) on September 11.


This expedition was organized by Ersh Travels mountaineering group and CET Neva travel agency and worked from July 15 till August 16. The expedition was led by Mr. Sergey Kalmykov and included six French, one British and two Russian climbers. In Kirghizstan and China the expedition was served by Asia Mountains (Mr. Sergey Dudashvili), Club Vezdekhod (Mr. Eduard Han) and China Xinjiang Mountaineering Association (Mr. Kong Baocun).

The expedition started from Bishkek, crossed the Kirghizstan-China border and via Kashgar arrived at the Muztagh-Ata Base Camp (4450 m) on July 17. For the ascent the expedition members used the normal route from the West and set three altitude camps on 5200 m, 6200 m and 6800 m. Muztagh-Ata is very skiable mountain and all members used ski for climbing and descending from the summit.

During 13 days the expedition members did several acclimatization ascents, set Camp 1 on 5200 m and Camp 2 on 6200 m and transported necessary equipment and food there. Several days of the bad weather with big snowfalls they spent in BC and altitude camps.

On July 31 they started the climb and spent a night in Camp 1. On August 1 they reached Camp 2 and on August 2 they pitched Camp 3 on 6800 m. On August 3 six climbers and Sergey Kalmykov started out at 09:00 and after a very long and hard way reached the summit of Muztagh-Ata (7546 m) between 15:00 and 16:00. The weather conditions were bad and during their descent to Camp 3 they several times used a GPS receiver.

Two Russian climbers started their ascent on July 27 but without good acclimatization they could reach the altitude of 6400 m only. Their second attempt was successful and they summited Muztagh-Ata on August 4.

MCSA climbing team
MCSA climbing team

MCSA trekking party
MCSA trekking party

brave camel riders
brave camel riders

with camels along the Kengxuwar River
with camels along the Kengxuwar River

Peak 5607 and Kala Peak
Peak 5607 m and Kala Peak, 5643 m

Peak 6355
Peak 6355 m

Peak 6841
Peak 6841 m

Koskulak Peak
Koskulak Peak, 7028 m

Muztagh-Ata and Kuksay Peak
Muztagh-Ata, 7546 m and Kuksay Peak, 7184 m

    The expedition was organized for the members of the Mountain Club of South Africa and worked from July 20 till August 24. It included a climbing team of 12 climbers and a trekking party of 15 trekkers. Mrs. Ulrike Kiefer was the expedition leader and Mrs. Jenny Paterson was the leader of the trekking party. Mr. Andrey Ershov and Mr. Alexey Shalaev of Ersh Travels accompanied the climbing team and the trekking party respectively. In Kirghizstan and China the expedition was served by Dostuck-Trekking (Mr. Nikolay Shchetnikov) and China Xinjiang Mountaineering Association (Mr. Kong Baocun).

    The main goal of the expedition was investigation of a very new mountain region near the Kuksay Glacier and climbing several unclimbed summits there. The Kuksay Glacier is located in the Western Kun-Lun on the eastern side of the Muztagh-Ata Massif and only a few small climbing teams were there before our expedition. That region is very interesting for climbers because a lot of unclimbed mountains surround the Kuksay Glacier and only two routes were climbed there.

    The climbing team started from Almaty and spent two days in the Tash-Rabat Valley, Kirghizstan for acclimatization. Then the team crossed the Torugart Pass on the Kirghizstan-China border and via Kashgar reached Kongtoyagz Village on the bank of Karakul Lake on July 24. From there with 16 camels we set off for the Kuksay Glacier.

    We rounded the northern slopes of the Muztagh-Ata Massif and after three days hiking along the Kengxuwar and Torbulung rivers reached the tongue of the Kuksay Glacier (about 4000 m) on July 27. The moraine of the glacier was too steep for camels and we were forced to hire local porters and donkeys to carry our luggage up to the place of Base Camp. The area near the Kuksay Glacier is very wild and we could find there only 6 donkeys, 1 horse and about 10 local porters.

    A good place for BC was found on the left side of the Kuksay Glacier on the altitude about 4500-4600 m. The weather conditions were not very good but in spite of snowfall and rain our porters transported our luggage to BC and on July 31 we were ready to start our climbing programme.

    More than ten beautiful peaks of 5300-5800 m are located on the eastern side of the Kuksay Glacier. Peak 6355 m is on the southern side. Peak 6841 m, Koskulak Peak (7028 m), Kalaxong Peak (7277 m), Muztagh-Ata (7546 m) and Kuksay Peak (7184 m) surround the western side. Tuyuk Peak (6161 m) is on the northern side of the glacier. All these peaks except Muztagh-Ata, Kuksay and Tuyuk were unclimbed and only two climbing routes were done there - the small team of Dan Mazur (USA) climbed Tuyuk Peak and Muztagh-Ata from the side of the Kuksay Glacier. So, a lot of amazing virgin mountains surround the glacier and the most part of them are very difficult for climbing - they have very steep snow and ice slopes with icefalls, steep ridges and vertical rock walls.

    To investigate the region our climbing team was divided into several small parties and each party chose its own objects for investigation and climbing: Ulrike Kiefer and her party did a reconnaissance of Peak 6355 m and Peak 6088 m, Pawel Wuzyk with his friends investigated the area near Tuyuk Peak, Andrew Kendall and others - the area near Kala Peak on the eastern side of the glacier.

    As a result we got a lot of very valuable information about that region including many good photos, did three first ascents of the unclimbed mountains about 5600 m and the second ascent of Tuyuk Peak:
    - Kala Peak, 5643 m - the first ascent was done on 02.08.2001 by Andrew Kendall, Janna Ball, Roland Magg, Andrey Ershov, Roy Kendall and Greig Stewart from the West.
    - Peak 5634 m - the first ascent was done on 04.08.2001 by Pawel Wuzyk, Martin Bruning and Ian Bailey from the South-West.
    - Tuyuk Peak, 6161 m - the second ascent was done on 10.08.2001 by Andrey Ershov, Pawel Wuzyk, Roy Kendall, Janna Ball and Ian Bailey from the South-West.
    - Peak 5607 m - the first ascent was done on 11.08.2001 by Andrew Kendall and Martin Bruning from the West.

    The trekking party started from Almaty on August 1 and spent a week in the mountains of Kirghizstan. They visited the mountains of Ala-Archa near Bishkek, Son-Kul Lake and the Tash-Rabat Valley on the ancient Silk Road. Then they did a trek from the Tash-Rabat Valley to Chatyr-Kul Lake over the Tash-Rabat Pass (3968 m), crossed the Kirghizstan-China border and via Kashgar reached Karakul Lake. With pack-camels and then with donkeys and local porters our trekkers came to the Kuksay Glacier and did several treks in the area of our BC. It was really interesting trekking because only climbers were there before them.

    Andrey Ershov
    November 20, 2001

photos: Viktor Ershov, Jenny Paterson, Andrey Ershov


address: Fontanka 64-63, 191002 St.Petersburg, Russia
phone/fax: (+7)-(812)-3153426
e-mail: ershov@mail.wplus.net