First Ascent of Eggmendueluek

Posted on: October 10, 2011


Charlie Evans below the summit serac of Eggmendueluek (5210m). Formerly referred to as Fers III Eggmendueluek was climbed for the first time in August by Brits Charlie Evans, Edward Lemon and Gareth Mottram with Swede Hannes Granberg in August 2011. [Photo] Gareth Mottram

Sarychat Valley, Wester Kokshall Too, Kyrgyzstan. British and Swedish climbers made a series of first ascents in the Kyrgyzstan during August of this year. Charlie Evans (UK), Hannes Granberg (SE) Edward Lemon (UK) and Gareth Mottram (UK) climbed three previously unclimbed peaks between 4631m and 5201m in height and made the second ascent of Pik Lyell (4864m).

Mottram and the Union Jack on the summit of Eggmendueluek. [Photo] Gareth Mottram

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In 2009 Lemon and Mottram visited the region but were mistakenly dropped off twenty-five kilometers from their planned base-camp. After moving all their gear by foot the team was left with only a small weather window. They made a few first ascents but their major goal, a peak referred to as Fers III by a 2007 Slovenian expedition, eluded them. The following year Mottram was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis an auto-immune disease affecting his lungs and vision. After recovering from the disease Mottram writes he was "doubly motivated" to return to Kyrgyzstan for another attempt at Fers III and to try and climb the unclimbed Pik Byeliy (5697 m).

Joined by Evans and Granberg, Lemon and Mottram returned to the Sarychat at the end of July and began hauling supplies to their base camp where they met a Slovenian team returning to their own camp on the Kotur glacier. The Slovenians, Peter Bajac, Ursa Erman, Tajic Golob, Blas Grapar, Alenka Klemencic, Miha Lapanja and Tina Leskosek, informed Granberg and the Brits that there was very soft snow conditions and unstable snow bridges on the glaciers and that they had just made the first ascent of Pik Byeliy. Known to some Americans as Grand Poobah, after the 2000 Dodrill-Libecki-Workman-Workman expedition, the peak was ascended via its southern ridge which allowed for mostly unroped climbing and was graded V/4.

Evans nearing the summit headwall. [Photo] Gareth Mottram

Edward Lemon climbing through the second ice field just below the summit ridge. [Photo] Gareth Mottram

With their second objective climbed, the Brits and their Swedish partner turned their attention to Fers III. In 2009 Mottram and Lemon had followed a ridge over peaks Sylvia (4910m) and Hillary (4920m) towards Fers III but turned back when night and weather threatened them. On August 5 the climbers left their camp at early in the morning as two separate rope teams. Evans and Lemon hugging the rock buttress and Granberg and Mottram navigated a series of AI3/+ ramps well clear of the other's fall line. The two teams reconnected below a thirty meter overhanging rock band, both teams bypassed it on the climber's left. The four then met again at the base of an AI4/M5 chimney, circa 5000m. The foursome separated above this chimney with each team continuing on through AI4 trending to M5 terrain in order to reach the narrow ridge line approach to the summit headwall. Approximately 300m in length the summit ridge headwall consisted of good quality 50-60 degree snow protectable by snow pickets. The sun had set and the four had all been climbing for roughly sixteen hours by the time they descended from the summit back onto the main ridge line. Here they began rappelling the M5 terrain encountered on the ascent. After reaching the top of initial ice ramps, and loosing a stuck rope, the four traversed to Evans-Lemon's route of ascent and rappelled on pitons to the base. Twenty-eight hours later the four climbers returned to their tents. Both routes were given a grade of ED1 as most of the difficulties were encountered over 5000m and due to the remoteness and significant rockfall the four encountered during the climb. Granberg and Mottram named their ascent route "Twenty-Eight Hours Later". Evans and Lemon chose to call theirs "The Brothers Chechel" after the smoked cheese Evans carried to the summit. The four decided to name the peak Eggmendueluek, Kyrgyz to for independence, in honor of the August 31, 2011, tenth anniversary of Kyrgyzstan's independence.

The route of the team's ascent of Eggmendueluek. Mottram and Granberg ascended the green line of "Twenty-Eight Hours Later" while Evans and Lemon ascended the red line of the "The Brothers Chechel." Both parties descended via "The Brothers Chechel." [Photo] Gareth Mottram

In addition to making the first ascent of Eggmendueluek, the team also completed the second ascent of Pik Lyell as a warm-up. Before departing the region Granberg and Mottram climbed two 4000m peaks above their base-camp naming them peak Georgina (4631m) and Annika (4685m) for their girlfriends.

Sources: The 2009 American Alpine Journal, TheBMC.co.uk, Gareth Mottram



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