New Routes in Kyrgyzstan

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A team of six British climbers put up three big routes on the granite spires of the Karavashin area of Kyrgyzstan, infamous as the place where Americans Tommy Caldwell, John Dickey, Beth Rodden and Jason Smith were kidnapped by militants in 2000. Niall Grimes and Donnie O’Sullivan established Amazing Graze, a 3,000-foot E4 (5.11) up the right arête of the Wall of Dykes. Ian Parnell and Mark Pretty climbed a 1,600-foot E4 (5.11R) on the previously unclimbed wall to the right of the Wall of Dykes. And Dave Pickford and Sam Whittaker climbed From Russia with Love, a 10-pitch E7 (5.12X) up the pillar on the right edge of the Black Magic wall on Central Pyramid. Whittaker onsighted the crux 5.12 slab with massive runouts above poor gear.

Kept close to the ground by unsettled July weather, the team also established numerous single-pitch routes and boulder problems in the area. All of the new routes were climbed onsight without bolts.

Parnell said the six Brits experienced “no hint of any terrorist or rebel activities, although we did have continuous ‘issues’ with the local military and bureaucrats in the area. We tried to treat each ludicrous bribe and upset as an ‘interesting experience.’ It became known to us as the Kyrgyz Way.”

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