Horses on the Kazakh steppe with the Tien Shan mou...
Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country by land area and the ninth largest country in the world. This massive area contains a variety of landscapes and climates. Some of the most stunning being the majestic Kazakh steppe, which occupies 1/3 of the country, and the rugged Tien Shan mountain range that lines the southern boarder. With plenty of climbing yet to be discovered, several lifetimes of adventure can be found here.
FYI… This is a Russian speaking country but I frequently meet english speaking locals while climbing. There are very different climbing practices here. People are not shy about throwing an anchor on top of yours. I have seen 10 ropes put up on 4 TR anchors. I have had climbers fall and swing into me, knocking me off the wall. They rarely warn climbers before throwing a rope. A common way to belay is for the belayer to tie into the rope and simply walk backwards as the climber goes up and walk forwards to lower the climber. I have even seen someone tie a rope to a car bumper and drive back as the climber went up and drive forward to lower. People have told me that my 8 mm cordelette or Dynex slings are "too weak" for an anchor as they're using what looks like a 30 year old, 1" hemp rope. I don't mean to cast a negative light but you should know what to expect!
If you can read Russian (or, like me, just use the images) here is my friend Kirill Belotserkovskiy's website. steelinside.com/ If you run into him, and you will if you climb in the area regularly, he speaks excellent english, has a wealth of knowledge and is a strong climber! He is also a guide if you need those services.
Being relatively new to the area, I have limited information on the history of the crags and route names. All the names that I use have been learned from the ex-pat community or made-up by me. Feel free to notify me if you have any corrections.
The easiest way to get to Kazakhstan is to fly into Almaty or Astana. Almaty is a modern city with breathtaking mountains to the South. Astana is also a modern city but I have never visited. Even though Astana is located in the middle of the Kazakh steppe, I have read about climbing areas in the area. You must obtain a visa to enter into KZ.
This 5-pitch sport route (climb #3 on the Okytbrenok Peak topos) includes a variety of climbing styles, a sense of adventure and great views of the valley. It comes into the sun around noon and can be very cold in the morning. I forget the exact number of bolts for each pitch but I think the 5th pitch had 13 or 14 (max), maybe carry 15 draws to be on the safe side. At least 3/4 (if not all) the rack should be alpine draws because of the zig-zaging nature of the bolts. Pitch 1- 5....[more]Browse More Classics in International