First Ascent on the West Face of Trud Peak in Kazakhstan

Kirill Belotserkovskiy and Grigory Chshukin opened a new line on Trud Peak, completing a round-trip of the 1,200 meter line in 23 hours.
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On May 28, Kazakh alpinists Kirill Belotserkovskiy and Grigory Chshukin opened a new route on the West Face of Trud Peak in their home country of Kazakhstan. The 1,200-meter route was graded WI6, M5, 6b (5.10+) by the team. They climbed in a single 23 hour push tent-to-tent. There are a few existing routes on the monolithic feature, though no new routes have gone up since 1984. For Belotserkovskiy, this was an objective five years in the making.

Trud—which translates to Labor in Russian—is located in Southeastern Kazakhstan in the Tian-Shan mountain range. A 40-kilometer approach to the remote peak took the climbers two days, in which they overcame two mountain passes. According to a first-hand account from Belotserkovskiy, “Long approaches, lack of information, bureaucracy, and a bit of corruption keep most climbers away from the area.”

Belotserkovskiy attempted the line in 2015 [use Google Translate for English] with Tursunali Aubakirov, but hard weather, physical exhaustion, and a psychological beating refuted their efforts. They bailed with only a half pitch of steep climbing remaining. Belotserkovskiy was resolute and returned five years later to complete the line.

This year, Belotserkovskiy and Chshukin departed from their tent at 3 a.m. They worked up the first 300 meters of a right-leaning snow gully, then veered left onto the face and technical climbing. They climbed mostly ice. Some pitches the ice was thick and solid, over which they moved quickly, while others were soft and rotten, requiring more delicate work.

“I found myself in a chimney, blocked by a chock of ice,” Belotserkovskiy wrote. “I scratched the tips of my tools into it, as hitting the feature was too scary. Grisha [Grigory] wisely jumared this pitch.”

He continued: “The regular overhanging loose chimney brought us to my previous top point. Last time I had aided here off the pitons driven into the choss. This time I brought my climbing shoes. Stemming between the polished monolith on the one side and loose blocks on the other, I got to the single piton off which I had rappelled five years previously. After a few hard moves I reached easier ground.”

After this pitch, the steepness of the route eased, and the team began moving quickly once again, until Belotserkovskiy was hit in the face by a falling rock, breaking his glasses and bloodying his face. He rappelled to his partner and they tried to bandage the wound on his eyebrow to no avail. They continued upward, periodically stopping to wipe the blood from Belotserkovskiy's eye.

They reached the summit at 7:30 p.m., 16-and-a-half hours after leaving camp. They spent five hours rappelling the face, then "swam (and silently swore) through waist-deep snow" on the southwest ridge, and descended a scree slope before returning to camp. Watch a video from the team's ascent below.

Note: Turn on closed captions for English subtitles.