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EWP News 1995

Hello from all of us here at EWP. If you are a past client then you probably have noticed that we have moved office! We are now based in South Wales just north of the A40 where it passes through Llandovery. If you are passing-by do drop in to chat about trips past or future - there is also good walking in the area so bring your boots!

New Address Haulfryn, Cilycwm, Llandovery, SA20 0SP 
Tel: 01550  721319      Fax:  01550 720053

One of the original principles of EWP was exploration of new areas, over the years we have gained much experience and developed many routes in wild mountain areas. Those who have shared in the our exploratory trips have almost always become hooked on the excitement involved - but there are prices to pay - nothing can be predicted, nothing can be quaranteed and the outcome is often unknown.

1995 was no exception in keeping to our policy to explore new routes and to find places when you can get away from the standard trekking routes. One EWP group climbed three virgin summits in the Tien Shan, another went climbing in the Fann Mountains, yet another group is soon to set off into the unknown corners of the Rwenzori to explore a new route. Early in the new year our first group will set out to heliski in the Ala Archa region of the Tien Shan, just south of Bishkek the capital of Kirgizstan.

and Future
One of our new destinations for 1996 is Georgia .
A few years ago I visited civil-war-torn Georgia. The country is exceptionally rich in its variety of landscapes and vegetation zone. It is very rich botanically and endowed with a superb climate being located between the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountains. It has been referred to as the Switzerland of the USSR - but that does not do it justice. When I was there I found people to be amazingly friendly and very keen to receive tourists. I was assured that if Georgians were shooting at each other they would always stop fighting if tourists where passing by. Well it would appear that they have stopped shooting each other and that at last an acceptable degree of stability has descended on the country for us to be able to offer (for the more adventurous) a trek into the Caucasus Mountains to the north of the capital, Tbilisi. We will take in some of magnificent mountain scenery: deep rugged, gorges; snowy mountains, high passes and flower-filled meadows. We will visit fortified mountain villages where often the horse is still the only form of transport. At all stages we will be passing and visiting historical monuments and enjoying the unique Georgian hospitality.

... Interested? ... then ask us for our trip information sheet.

Climb a virgin summit in the Pamirs
Following the success of the Tien Shan - Virgin Summits, we plan to climb two 6000m virgin summits in the Pamirs in 1996.

On a virgin summit the excitement of finding a suitable route, planning the climb, the elements of discovery and the unknown are all combine to make for a memorable experience. To the adventurous spirit the ascent of an unclimbed summit, knowing that no human has been there before, can provide the greatest mountain adventure.

The Pamir mountains cut off the Central Asian republic of Tadjikistan from the mountains of Afghanistan. At the heart of the Pamir flows the mighty Fedchenko Glacier - 70 kilometers long beside which lie the highest mountains of the former Soviet Union, the highest of these being Peak Communism, 7495m. The Eastern Pamir are composed of long, remote valleys bounded by high glaciated mountains many of which are still unclimbed.

Driving in from Osh we will establish an acclimatisation camp at about 4200m and, after a few days, we will cross a 5100m pass to reach the Muzkol valley and our base camp. Porters will carry all communal equipment over this pass. By this stage we will be well acclimatised to tackle the two main objectives of our trip.

....Interested? ... then ask us for our trip information sheet.

EWP/Sherpa Treks
Some of you prefer to benefit from our past experiences and many of you have enjoyed our more establishedtrekking favourites which we run jointly with Sherpa Expeditions: The High Tatra, Mount Elbrus, The Fann, Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, the Rwenzori. Equally enjoyed were two new trekking programmes: the Romanian Carpathians and the Celestial Mountains.

We eventually ran two successful Trailwalker Mt Elbrus trips along with our other departures to meet the demand for the ascent of Europe's highest summit.

As ever we have our mountain guides to thank for the summit successes, Chris Murithi on Kili, Mt Kenya and in the Rwenzori, Sergei Rukolaine and Gia Ksenashvili on Elbrus, Sergei Semiletkin with Andrew Wielochowski on Pik Lenin and on the Virgin Summits. Equally successful have been our trek leaders: Piotr Xieski in the Tatra, Andre Beleaua in Romania and Misha Samarski in Central Asia.

1995 trip reports
Virgin summits.
In the summer a group of past regulars and some new faces set off to the Tien Shan to climb and explore the summits just south of Merzbacher Glade itself located on the 50 km long Inylchek Glacier. The relatively short flight to Alma Aty in Kazakstan was followed first by a two day drive to the roadhead.

Some 150 km. to the south of Alma Aty lies Lake Issyk Kul (the name means warm water) whose crystal clear waters though surrounded by glaciated mountain chains and fed by icy rivers are still warm enough to bathe in comfortably in the summer. Alma Aty is cut off from the lake by the Kiungei Ala Too Mountain Range which has only two roads leading south to the lake over a distance of 500 km.

Our drive took us via the lake to Karakol and the roadhead. From there a 40 km. helicopter flight took us over awe-inspiring scenery to the Glade. Although the long journey was tiring it made one aware of how vast the Tien Shan mountains are.

By Moscow and Central Asian standards the journey went very smoothly, so much so that on arrival at Merzbacher Glade - an idyllic flower carpeted meadow set above the icy wastes of the Inylchek Glacier and beneath the intimidating north face of Glade Peak - the group were lulled into a confident complacency, unaware of what lay ahead.

In the subsequent days we soon realised that the mountains were big and that it was hard work to set up advanced camps and that it was much too comfortable at base! We first turned our attention to Glade Peak (4868m) and soon two new routes had been climbed up this very fine, though by local standards small, virgin peak. The summit itself provides a most magnificent view of the Inylchek Glacier, dominated to the east by the elegant Khan Tengri (6995m).

In the second half of the trip, after careful statistical calculations revolving around the frequency of ice falls and their location, a small group ventured up a rather active icefall to reach the glacier basin located at the heart of the Shokalski Glacier system. From a camp here, two fine virgin summits were climbed. Scimitar Peak (5330m) provided a long hard snow and ice climb, whereas the shapely Marmot Peak (5448m) proved to be easier than initially feared, it was named after a Marmot seen at over 5000m "living" in a bergshrund.

roger bannister

Marmot Peak

On the return journey things went far too well to start off with - the helicopter arrived on time to pick us up - the weather was perfect and our 4WD lorry was ready for us to move on a day earlier than expected - back to Issyk Kul. The next day was to be one of the highlights of the trip - a luxury resort on the shores of the lake. We arrived in a dusty, hot compound surrounded by barbed wire and walls - this was it. The manager was out but his assistant led us, staggering under the weights of our full luggage pack, to a concrete block, the smell repelled even the toughest - we refused to enter. She did not seem to understand why we all turned about and walked out again. The situation was saved when back at the dusty compound we met a beaming manager - "All a mistake . . . please come with me". Soon some were relaxing in deep leather armchairs, taking hot baths, drinking at the bar - this was the life. The more dynamic went for a swim in the swimming pool fed by a hot spring - and followed this with a run down to the sandy beach and a swim in the clear waters of the lake. Our guide informed us that in the Communist days this was a resort for members of the Ministry of Interior (KGB etc). But who were the concrete blocks for???

Romanian Carpathians
It is hard to imagine that real adventure can be found only two hours flying time from Heathrow. The first EWP trip to the Caucasus entered Russia via Romania. We flew in to Bucharest and took a train to the Russian border. We crossed in a bus which then took us to Kishiniov in Moldavia where we had a small hired jet waiting for us to take us to Nalchyk - the capital of the Kabardino-Balkarian republic in the northern Caucasus. During our stay in the mountains there was a coup attempt against Gorbachov. For days we watched the grey faces on the television screen telling us of all the clamp downs - the end of Pierestroika. Gloomy marshall music and speeches. But it all came to an end and soon we were in a bus pushing through a two day long queue of vehicles waiting to clear through the border controls. "We have a plane to catch to London, tomorrow." This did not seem to go down well with the masses of people camping by the roadside, but the border officials were more sympathetic and with the help of an armed guard we were rushed through the system - we had cleared the customs in only four hours - a record, but then we are British!
Things have changed a lot in Romania since the end of the old system. It is a country of great contrasts - modern roads, vehicles, services and industry but leave the main roads and you go back a hundred years, to horse drawn carts, men and women scything the hay, hand made clothes and real friendliness.

The Carpathians cover great tracts of the country, wild forests, rivers, lakes, Alpine meadows and rugged mountain ridges. Key passes are guarded by fairy tale castles such as Peles and Bran (once occupied by Count Dracula). The trip however owes a lot to the magnificent organisastion of Andre and Adi our Romanian guides. Nothing was too much trouble for them and after carrying out all their duties they would join in with the dancing, singing and card playing late into the night only to be up again first thing to get breakfast organised and get us all going again - often rather bleary eyed.

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