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Bivouac: French for “Mistake” – Kyrgyzstan

Peak Alexandra (5290m) with the route, Bivouac: French for Mistake (D: 5.4 70 degrees, 700m), as climbed by Jim Broomhead and Kristoffer Szilas (notice the location of the bivy). Broomhead and Szilas were members of a mostly Danish expedition that recently visited the Djangart region of Kyrgyzstan. [Photo] Kristoffer Szilas

Between July 15 and August 3, an Anglo-Danish team of climbers explored the eastern part of the Djangart region of Kyrgyzstan. Inspired by a Mike Royer’s 2010 trip report in the American Alpine Journal on the western part of the Djangart, the team was excited to explore a region that offered the opportunity to make first ascents of unclimbed mountains.

Russian Roulette (AD: 60 degrees, 700m) on Peak Kathryn (4885m), as climbed by Carsten Cooper-Jensen and Simon Lund Jensen. [Photo] Kristoffer Szilas

The eastern Djangart has seen few climbing expeditions in recent years, and its remote location and abundance of untouched territory lent itself to the kind of adventure the team was seeking. The seven team members, Jim Broomhead of Britain, Sune Buur, Carsten Cooper-Jensen, Jakob Fisker, Simon Lund Jensen, Anders Hedeager Pedersen and Kristoffer Szilas, divided into three teams, and approached various peaks via four glaciers.

The expedition started with a scare. After being dropped off at base camp, the team realized that not only was their fuel missing, but the satellite phone was dead as well. The region only sees a handful of visits per year according to Szilas, but that day a Russian family was trekking in the area and lent their phone to the climbers, saving the expedition.

Peak Pernille (5190m), showing the route Waiting for the Tide (AD: 55 degrees, 700m) as climbed by Sune Buur, Jakob Fisker and Anders Hedeager Pedersen. [Photo] Kristoffer Szilas

Szilas and partner Jim Broomhead began their exploration with a first ascent of a 5290m peak, which they named after Jim’ s wife: Peak Alexandra. They completed their route, Bivouac: French for Mistake (D: 5.4 70 degrees, 700m), after one bivy at 5000m. They then hiked fifteen kilometers to the next valley only to discover that the warm weather would prevent them from attempting the highest peak in the region (5318m). They returned to base camp to set their sights to the next mountain. Peak 5318 remains unclimbed, despite multiple attempts.

They climbed the next peak in warm conditions and experienced a series of avalanches from above during their descent. “Luckily we were down-climbing over steep ice fields where we could put in good ice screws, so we were not swept off the mountain,” Szilas told Alpinist. The christened the mountain Peak Lea (4950m), named for Szilas’s girlfriend, and called their route Mermaid, with difficulties of (D: M4 70 degrees, 500m).

Szilas on the first ascent of Peak Alexandra (5290m). [Photo] Kristoffer Szilas

The other members of the group also claimed first ascents in the Djangart. Sune Buur, Jakob Fisker and Anders Hedeager Pedersen climbed their new route, Waiting for the Tide (AD: 55 degrees 700m), on Peak Pernille (5190m) while Carsten Cooper-Jensen and Simon Lund Jensen established “Russian Roulette” (AD: 60 degrees, 700m) on Peak Kathryn (4885m). More photos of the routes and a map of the region can be viewed on Szilas’ blog.

Source: Kristoffer Szilas.