Central Tien Shan. Khan Tengri peak (7010 m) climbing from North side.

Pass hopping (heavy trekking) and climbing fotoreport.

Tien Shan - "The Celestial Mountains" is one of the world's biggest and highest (up to 7,439 m - Peak Pobeda) mountain land on the south of Central Asia where virtually all kinds of mountain outdoors are possible - from easy trekking to extremely difficult mountaineering. The entire area keeps ecological purity and untouched wild nature so far.

The marble pyramid of Khan Tengri (7,010 m high) attracts the people's attention for thousands years - it is seen from the ancient Silk Road (exactly the North Face is visible!), which is crossing so-called "Junghar's Gate" on the present-time Kazakh - Chinese border. The climbing of Khan Tengri from North Inilchek glacier via Western Col (5B CC mountaineering) is perfect adventure and requires good physical conditions of participants, previous climbing skill is also strongly recommended.

You can also climb some other interesting peaks at the area (as solely objective or as acclimatization ascent for Khan Tengri) - Semenov Peak (5816 m), Bayankol Peak (5841 m), Marble Wall (6400 m) and some others.

There are 5 different approaches to North Inilchek glacier BC covered here:

  1. From Almaty using helicopter: Transfer to Akkol intermediate camp (about 360 km, 7 hrs, by truck, overnight there in tents), then helicopter flight to BC;
  2. Direct hely flight from Almaty to BC (not recommended in terms of acclimatization and money);
  3. From Almaty w/climbing Marble Wall: transfer to Akkol intermediate camp (about 360 km, 7 hrs, by truck, overnight there in tents), then acclimatization ascent on Peak Pogranichnik, then ascent on Marble wall with descent to North Inilchek BC- see here;
  4. From Almaty via high passes: same trip to Akkol then hike up via either Bayankolskiy Pass (1B CD, 4400 m) and Opasniy Pass (3A CD, 5200 m)- here you can also climb Peak Semenova (5816 m) from the Opasniy Pass saddle- or via the "Pass of 11th" (3A CD, 4850 m);
  5. You can also fly by helicopter from South Inilchek BC (Khan Tengri South and Peak Pobeda) to North Inilchek BC (about 15 min). See Khan Tengri South chapter. In this case, you can also arrive from Bishkek.

Take a look also: the places worth to visit in and near Almaty; near Bishkek and Karakol.

See related pages: Khan Tengri South and Peak Pobeda approaches trekking and climbing fotoreport; Peak Pobeda (7439 m) climbing fotoreport; Khan Tengri North climbing route.

Slides by: Nikolay Gonenko. Scanning, image processing and comments: Igor Fedyaev.

to enlarge picture click on thumbnail image

If you starts from Almaty (the former capital of Kazakhstan), after long (about 7 hrs) army truck driving you get in the Akkol BC site in Bayancol gorge on the China border. Your papers should be checked at the border checkpoint (on the photo)...
Central Tien Shan. Bayankol border checkpoint.
It is recommended to stay in Akkol BC at least for 1 day to obtain proper acclimatization. You can make simple above 4,000 m climbing out there.
Tien Shan. Akkol BC. Truck.
This is how Khan Tengri marble pyramid is seen for thousands years from the Silk Road (and Akkol BC of course ;-)...
Tien Shan. Khan Tengri from Akkol BC.
Then, you go aboard helicopter (powerful Mi-8MTV) and in approx. half an hour you get to one of South Inilchek BCs - jump to next step.
Tien Shan. Akkol BC. Helicopter.
If you decide go on foot, be prepare for heavy trekking (pass hopping). There are 2 basic approaches there: via Opasniy pass ("Dangerous", 3A CD, 5200 m, ice)- recommended because you can relatively easy climb Peak Semenova (Semenov Peak, 5816 m) from the pass's col, and via The Pass of 11s (Pereval Odinnadtsati, 3A CD, 4850 m, ice). The common part for both passes begins in Bayankol river gorge (you go 1st near old mines). The 1st serious obstacle en route could be the crossing of Bayankol river- follow the "Tadjik way" of river crossing as shown on the photos!
Central Tien Shan. Trekking to North Inilchek BC. Crossing Bayankol river.
Central Tien Shan. Trekking to North Inilchek BC. Crossing Bayankol river.
Next, you begin gentle climb up to the Bayancol glacier with the Bayancol and Semenov peaks in front of you...
Central Tien Shan. Trekking to North Inilchek BC. Bayankolsky glacier. Bayankol and Semenov peaks.
The glacier itself is relatively flat with few only crevasses. Keep right before walk on the glacier! The author is sitting at the left corner (editorial note ;-)
Central Tien Shan. Trekking to North Inilchek BC. Bayankol West glacier.
Then, you go straight forward to the Bayankol Pass (Pereval Bayankolskiy, 1B CD, 4400 m, ice) if your goal is Opasniy Pass or turn left to the Pass of 11s. The Semenov Peak's ridge is seen on the background, at the left corner.
Central Tien Shan. Trekking to North Inilchek BC. Bayankol West glacier near Bayankol pass.
The Bayankol Pass is seen as the clearly defined saddle on the glacial hill. The ascent is relatively easy with the only obstacle - small bergshrund near the saddle.
Central Tien Shan. Trekking to North Inilchek BC. Bayankol West glacier close to Bayankol pass.
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