Benjamin Erdmann, September 26th, 2015
I’m a week into decompressing, landing and calibrating from a wild adventure in Kyrgyzstan. Local Alaskan hardman and scholar Samuel Johnson and I went into a remote nook of the Kookshall-Too range, approaching from Bishkek on an old russian tank truck 4WD vehicle, we pulled into the boulder strewn terminal moraine of the Komarova glacier and set into hauling loads.
On ski and with sled we hauled through crevassed ice for a week and a half, moving up and over a narrow mountain pass that dropped us down and into China, where we established basecamp and spent the next 4 weeks.
The storm cycles were relentless and daily, depositing fresh snow and flushing features in frozen waterfalls of spindrift … our small tent slowly sank into the ice as the snow piled up and we melted in. During an early break in the cycles Sammy and I made our way back up and around to an adjacent glaciated arm where the twin headed granite towers of Panfilovski East rose above with a tiered ice feature going up and turning the high corner into a narrow runnel. Straight rock terrain was above that, and over two thousand feet steeply above us.
We fluently swapped leads through ice runnels and mixed rock steps till the final crux rock pitch was sent solidly and gracefully by Sammy, nice!
Super technical and steep the pitch kicked back beyond vertical and opened into thick off-width, the moves leaning back and over the expansive exposure below.
The storm cycles continued and our attempts on another line, the big one, were thwarted by atrocious avalanche conditions. Our final attempt found us 3/4 the way up the 5 thousand foot ice line and 3 days into the attempt.
Climbing in bursts and ducking away to the side to sit out the deposition. The spindrift avalanches were triggering with increasing frequency as moisture freight trained through the cirque.
Our choice to retreat was confirmed with an apocalyptic wind event the next day.
Loading up base camp and skiing back over the pass and into Kyrgyzstan, we both felt strong inspiration to return. It was a harsh area, and so darn difficult to get to, the storms crushed the land and made climbing impossible at times, but some moments in those small windows of weather it all comes together and crux moves are floated.
We sent the first ascent of the granite tower Panfilovski East by “Flight of the Zephyr” at AI4R M7.