There are lots of mountains that draw climbers to Kyrgyzstan like Korona Peak (4,860 m) that sits atop Ak Sai Glacier, Oguz Bashi Peak (5,170 m) that resembles a pair of bull horns, and Manas Peak (4,488 m) named after Kyrgyzstan’s legendary hero that contains several challenging rock faces. However, if you want to summit one of the highest mountains in Kyrgyzstan, you will have to visit the Tien Shan Mountains in the Issyk Kul Province or the Pamir Alai Mountains that are the dominating mountain range of southwest Kyrgyzstan.
THE 2 HIGHEST MOUNTAIN PEAKS IN KYRGYZSTAN’S TIEN SHAN MOUNTAINS
Two of the most famous mountains in Kyrgyzstan (and the highest) are located in the Tien Shan east of Lake Issyk Kul. If you look at a map with Kyrgyzstan’s mountain peaks labeled on it, you will be able to see these two peaks practically hugging the Chinese border: Khan Tengri and Pobeda Peaks.
Khan Tengri (7,010 m)
Khan Tengri is one of the most famous mountains in Kyrgyzstan because of its gorgeous color and pyramid-like shape. During sunset, Khan Tengri practically glows red. The most common routes approach the peak from the south via Inylcheck Glacier and these are several base camps set up for climbers along the way including Karkara and South Inylcheck Base Camps. If you plan on climbing Khan Tengri, the third highest mountain in Kyrgyzstan, plan on roughly 3 weeks in country.
Pobeda Peak (7,439 m)
Pobeda Peak (also known as Victory Peak) is the highest of Kyrgyzstan’s mountain peaks. Looking at a Kyrgyzstan map, this mountain looks like it is sitting right smack on the Chinese border. Pobeda Peak is difficult to summit because of its harsh weather conditions; notorious cold winds known as the Thousand Devils assault the mountain. Another challenge to summiting the peak is the 3 km vertical headwall. A number of ascents are made each year, but previous extensive mountaineering experience is definitely a must.
THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN PEAK IN KYRGYZSTAN’S PAMIR-ALAI MOUNTAINS
The Pamir-Alai Mountains in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are known for their breathtaking beauty and unreal height. They are often called “the Roof of the World.” The start of the Pamir-Alai mountain range can be found in the southwest of Kyrgyzstan and contains one of the most famous mountains in Kyrgyzstan for climbers: Lenin Peak.
Lenin Peak (7,134 m)
Lenin Peak is the one of most accessible of all the 7,000+ meter peaks in the world and is certainly the most accessible of all the mountains in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Climbers need little to no experience with technical climbing in order to summit Lenin Peak. There are 16 trails that lead up to the summit and a well-established base camp (Achyk Tash) that is open in July and August. This is the best peak for climbers with a bit less experience.
CONSIDERING A CLIMB?
If one of these 3 peaks sparks your interest, know that getting into the country is also relatively easy depending on which country you are coming from. Kyrgyzstan is currently visa-free for citizens of 44 countries (most of the EU, the USA, etc.) for up to 60 days, making it the easiest of the Central Asian countries to enter.
As far as the climbing itself, guided tours are available for each of these peaks that range from 3-4 weeks long. In fact, there are pre-scheduled trips available if you would like to join a group in July or August of 2015. Of course, individually guided trips are available as well. Just take a look at some tours and see which peak is the one you want to tackle next!
Photos by Sergey Kalachov, Andrey Osianin, Andrey Lebedev