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Dutch in Kyrgyzstan

Dutch climbers Bas van der Smeede, Saskia Groen, Bas Visscher and Vincent van Beek recently finished an expedition to the Oibala mountains of Kyrgyzstan were they climbed six previously unclimbed peaks. [Photo]

The rock was limestone and mostly not so good quality, but the mountains were steep and beautiful.-Bas van der Smeede

From July 9 – August 14, Dutch climbers Bas van der Smeede, Saskia Groen, Bas Visscher and Vincent van Beek pioneered six previously unnamed and unclimbed peaks in an expedition to Kyrgyzstan’s Pamir-Alai Mountains. Just north of the Chinese border, the team discovered steep 4,000 – 5,000 meter peaks in the Oibala range. “As far as we could find,” said Smeede, “the area has never been visited by climbers.” Smeede also noted that this area has potential for many more first ascents.

The team atop Chamakchay Tower. [Photo]

The team was initially turned on to the possibilities of climbing in this area by photos they received from their Russian trekking agent. “They noticed the mountains during a trekking in this mountain range and were impressed of the size and steepness the walls,” said Smeede. “We were enthusiastic about the beauty and immediately organized an expedition to Kyrgyzstan.”

Once they established base camp on July 15, the team began climbing. The first of their climbs, “Yellow Submarine” (TD+, VII-), stretches 900 meters up the south Camakchay Tower (4,215m). They completed this route in two days on July 25, topping out at noon after a night bivouacking. “Before we could reach the mountain,” said Smeede, “we had to cross a small but wild river named the Camakchay.” They named the tower after this river and the route after their favorite Beatles song.

Towards the end of the expedition, the team climbed Pik Brokkel Tower (4,750m) via “Guns of Navarone” (D, IV, 60 degrees). During the climb, rock fall struck Visscher in the leg. In an effort to descend rapidly, they left numerous cams. The other four climbs were “Electro Shock Blues” (700m, TD-, AI3/75 degrees) on Pik Oibala (4,830m) climbed by Groen and Smeede, “Northwest Face” (785m, D+/TD-, VI-, 50 degrees) up Pik BasBas (4,785m) by Smeede and Visscher, “South Ridge” (PD) on Pik Pewi (4,310m) by Smeede and Beek and “West Face/North Ridge” (AD, 55 degrees) on Pik Marian (4,450m) by Beek and Visscher; the last peak of which was named in memory of a friend who died recently in the alps.

“For all of us, it was the first time we climbed in Kyrgyzstan,” said Smeede. “We were surprised that there are so few climbers in this region because there is so much potential for technical climbing.” For more photos check out the team’s blog at

Bas van der Smeede leads an icy crack on the Northwest Face of Pik Basbas (D+/TD-, VI-,50 degrees, 780m). [Photo]

Source: Bas van der Smeede