Slovenian climbers made the first ascent of a major summit in the Western Kokshaal-too of Kyrgyzstan this season. Pik Byeliy (5697m) was the highest unclimbed peak in the Western Kokshaal-too and has been the objective of many expeditions to the area over the past decade.
The Western Kokshaal-too forms part of the Tien Shan range along the border of China and Kyrgyzstan. Americans Jerry Dodrill, Mike Libecki, Doug and Jed Workman made the first major attempt at Peak Byeliy in 2000 from the southwest ridge on the Chinese side. A New Zealand expedition in 2005 searched for lines from the Fersmana Glacier; however, the team, made up of Paul Knott, Grant Piper and Graham Rowbotham, saw no probable route up the northeast, east or southern faces from the glacier. Pat Littlejohn did much exploring in the region and his expeditions summitted nearby peaks but were turned away from Byeliy due to weather or dangerous routes. In 2008 Arne Jeglic and Jaka Ortar of Slovenia made an attempt from the Fersmana Glacier, discovering a promising line up the south ridge; they were turned back by the threat of avalanches.
This year a team of Slovenians included Peter Bajac, Ursa Erman, Alenka Klemencic, Miha Lapanja, Tina Leskosek, Tajek Golob and Blas Grapar. The large group made a number of ascents in the valley. Golob and Graspar, two of the more experienced members of the group, climbed Peak Lyev (4710m) to acclimate while the rest of the party climbed peaks Alpini (4578m) and Lvitsa (4631m).
Then Klemencic and Lapanja established a camp at the base of Obzhorny (5156 m) with the intention of climbing the east flank from the Nalivkin Glacier. Bajac, Erman and Leskosek set up camp on the west side of Obzhorny and members of the team summitted peaks Obzhorny, Greta (4725m), and Lencka (4621m) as well as a new route, Arbuz (60, 450m) up Pik Oleg (4859m). They made ski descents when possible.
Golob and Grapar headed toward the Chinese border via the Fersmana Glacier to camp at 4900m along the southern base of Byeliy for their climb up the south ridge. They summitted the peak the next day, ascending the line attempted in 2008. The south ridge (V, 600m) required two pitches of belaying.
Weather instability prevented the team from any other significant ascents before their return to Bishkek, though they report some excellent bouldering in valley.