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News 1998/99 

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Virgin Summits | Rwenzori | Kilimanjaro | Mt Kenya | Fann | Elbrus | Bulgaria | Romania | Trips 1999/2000 | News 98 | News 97 Once again we come to the end of our EWP year and it is time to look back on this last twelve months . . . and to look to the future.

Tragedy in the Muzkol Pamir
Our fourth trip to the Muzkol sadly ended in a fatality. Ulf Carlsson, former chairman of the Mountain Club of Kenya, a very active mountaineer and one of our EWP representatives in Kenya was killed in an abseiling accident after an unsuccessful attempt on the north face of Zartosh (6106m unclimbed).

The trip had started quite well with one group walking across the Depshe Pass to view the world famous Lake Saryz whilst others explored access routes to the west summit of Soviet Officers Peak and the unclimbed Peak Frunze.

On the 23rd of July, after a 15km walk up the wild Bozbaital valley, Sasha Bolotov and Giles Cornah camped at about 4000m below Soviet Officers Peak. The next day they scrambled higher and finally carved out a ledge from the screes to bivouac at about 5200m before the steep upper sections of the mountain. On the 25th of July the pair started early and climbed steep ice couloirs for several pitches that led through a rock wall barrier to a glacier above. This led to the steep, frozen, and partly snow covered, scree and rock outcrops of the upper pyramid and hence the summit which they reached in the afternoon in poor weather. This was the first ascent of Soviet Officers Peak West (circa 6100m). The climb was graded Russian 5b.

On the 26th July, in perfect weather, Malcolm Churches and Andrew Wielochowski made the first ascent of Peak Frunze. This turned out to be an uncomplicated ascent (Russian 3b) up easy snow / ice couloirs and then a snow ridge. On the same day Colin Sprange, Valery Rezhnik and Sergei Semiletkin climbed a minor point on the ridge of Frunze.

At this point base camp was transferred to the Zartoshkol Valley. Ulf, who had previously suffered from bad blisters after 40 km of walking in his brand new boots, went up to the Zartosh Glacier advance camp at 5100m. From here on the 30th July he soloed the central couloir of Fay's Peak (6116m). He discovered a plaque left by a Tadjik expedition in 1984. This discovery indicates that not all ascents in the Soviet era were adequately documented and reported in the Soviet mountaineering literature. The ascent was graded 3a.

On the 2nd of August, in rather mixed weather, Colin Sprange and Valery Rezhnik climbed Fay's Peak from the south up easy scree and snow slopes (Russian 3a). Giles Cornah and Ulf Carlsson set off on the same day to climb the beautiful, icy, north face of Zartosh. Rather poor weather delayed their start and slowed their ascent. 100m from the summit, at 8pm, they decided to turn back. At about 11pm, whilst abseiling, Ulf placed a piton which pulled out under his weight. He fell 500m and died instantly. In the morning Giles continued descending unroped and was met by a rescue party as he approached the bergschrund beneath the ice face.

Ulf was buried on moraines not far from the 5100m advanced camp on the Zartosh Glacier.

There will be a small expedition to Muzkol in late July / August of 2000, further information. See also Eastern Sunrise 2000
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Eastern Sunrise Peak 6346m. (Zaalaiski Pamir)
This beautiful peak lies on the borders of Tadjikistan, Kirgystan and China in the northernmost range of the Pamir - the Zaalaiski Ridge. It is one of the highest 6000m peaks still unclimbed in the former Soviet Union. This year a small group of EWP guides explored access to the Eastern Sunrise Peak. Near our proposed base camp they met a Motorola sponsored trip from England led by Paul Deegan.

This group had visited the area and explored access routes to both Eastern Sunrise and neighbouring Karumdy, 6613m, which probably has been climbed but no report on the ascent has so far been discovered. Their exploration resulted in the ascent of several lower peaks in the area. The highest summit gained was a 4850m.

In 2000 EWP are organising and expedition to attempt Eastern Sunrise Peak. This will be a demanding climb requiring Himalayan tactics. The ascent will be mainly on steep glaciated terrain.
Detailed account of 1998 expedition to Muzkol | Eastern Sunrise 2000
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Caucasus and Elbrus
Many foreign tour operators this year were put off from running their trips to the Elbrus area as a result of the bad publicity associated with the continuing crisis in Chechnya and the recent conflict in Dagestan. There was little evidence that the Elbrus area was affected by any of these problems and certainly the number of climbers from the CIS and Eastern Europe visiting the area this year has grown. The weather this year was again excellent and our groups enjoyed a high success rate. One of our groups witnessed the first ascent by a horse of the western summit of Elbrus - the horse had horseshoes attached with crampon like spikes. Last year the same horses had been taken to the slightly easier and lower east summit.

At the same time a filming team from Warren Miller Films under the direction of Chris Patterson was on the mountain with EWP making a documentary on a ski and snowboard descent of Elbrus. Even in this rather lean year the snowboarders and skiers enjoyed pleasant conditions in late August. The best run was straight down the steep slope from the summit plateau to the saddle refuge ruins. The weather was perfect with a few centimetres of fresh snow on a hard smooth surface. The 47 minute ducumentary will be shown early next year - details to follow.
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A small EWP groupcompleted the traverse of the Fagaras Ridge for the second year in succession. The trip was highly successful - a combination of the thoroughness of our main guide - Andrei Belaua - and the magnificent wilderness of this 80km long ridge.

We now have established good contacts with the four star Samokov Hotel in Borovets which provides excellent accommodation and superb facilities at very competitive costs. This is a perfect base for beginners or intermediate skiers and there is access to some quite attractive alpine touring country. In summer this is an fine base for a relaxing mountain holiday. Further information. Top of page

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of one of our EWP representatives in Kenya - Ulf Carlsson - see first section of this news letter. He was one of the driving forces behind the organisation of the Centenary celebrations of the first ascent of Batian (Mt Kenya) by Halford Mackinder. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Look out if you are planning to go to Kilimanjaro over the new year. The park entry fees for this period have been doubled and bookings will only be honoured if paid in full, in advance. Most routes are now fully booked. We still have two places available on our Millennium Mt Kenya - Kilimanjaro expedition (due to a recent cancellation). Trip information.

Our base hotel in Moshi has undergone a major expansion. It now has a swimming pool and a the accommodation has been extended so that even the biggest of our groups will be able to fit in the hotel with space to spare. Laurence the hotel forest guide has established himself an excellent reputation for his monkey and bird walks from the hotel.

Sadly the Rwenzori are still closed. See the last annual news letter - news '98.
Mount Elgon - no problems here on the Ugandan side. Access for walkers approaching from the Kenyan side may be prevented for "security reasons".
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Western and Central Pamir
This year we ran two trips for the Geographical magazine readers (official magazine of the Royal Geographic Society) to the Fann Mountains. Both were highly successful, as usual some participants worried about the bad press given to Tadjikistan, this was as usual exacerbated by the Foreign Office advising people to avoid visiting Tadjikistan - unofficially those in the know in the Foreign Office admit that the only really dangerous area is Dushanbe but they have to cover themselves by a blanket ban.

This year no trips went to Peak Lenin. Other groups visiting the mountain encountered rather poorer than usual weather. We will be offering a Peak Lenin trip in 2000.
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ALW 16/6/05