2011 AAJ cover

It's May already, which means your AAJ team is in the final throes of distilling a year's worth of new routes from around the world into 400 tight pages that go to the printer in June. This year we have a special treat: a major article on an exquisite basin in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, whose identity shall remain nameless for another month.
We've also made a little video of the AAJ editorial process in action (from initial emails to final layout). If you've never seen editorial sausage-making in action, you may find it mildly amusing. Check out the video on Inclined, the AAC blog.
First, though, please enjoy this little world tour of climbs where the hand of man had never set foot--until now.
John Harlin III

Nepal: Athahra Saya Khola Himal (6,767m), southeast ridge over Hindu Himal (6,306m) and Lilia Peak (6,435m).

By Paulo Grobel, France, translated by Todd Miller

Athahra Saya Khola Himal (Mountain of 1,800 Rivers) is a bizarre name, one that evokes the feeling of a faraway place, a mythical wonderland of Buddhist culture, exotic. This is the name we gave to a previously unclimbed 6,767m summit on the Tibetan border, just north of Panbari (6,905m), in the region between Samdo and Phu, north of the Manaslu massif. Athahra Saya Khola is the Nepali name for the river that flows from the foot of the mountain and is the ancient name of the region now known as Nubri...(read more)

Photo: Looking east up Athahra Saya Khola Valley. (A) Pt. 6,621m. (B) Fukan Glacier. (C) Hindu Himal. (D) Panbari. (E) Lilia Peak. (F) Athahra Saya Khola Himal. (G) Athahra Saya Glacier. Paulo Grobel
Nepal: Kyajo Ri (6,186m), northeast face, attempt; Kusum Kanguru (6,370m), southwest rib and northwest ridge, attempt.

By Ben Dare, New Zealand

In March Steven Fortune, Mike Rowe, and I arrived in the Solu Khumbu and established base camp at 5,050m, below our first objective, the northeast face of Kyajo Ri. Initially we attempted the standard route up the southwest ridge, starting from a high camp at 5,500m below the unclimbed south face. We retreated at just over 6,000m in deteriorating weather, when I was struck on the hand by falling ice and unable to continue climbing.

There followed a rest period at base camp, where we waited in vain for the weather and my injured hand to improve, ultimately leaving Steven and Mike to attempt our proposed new direct line up the northeast face...(read more)

Photo: Kyajo Ri seen from high on ridge above Machermo to northeast. (1) Southeast ridge (Americans, 2005). (2) 2011 New Zealand attempt. (3) 2009 Italian attempt. Ben Dare

Mongolia: Naran (3,884m), north face.

By Jeff Reynolds

Circumstances were not optimal. The face was very dry and much of it exposed to rockfall. This was not solely due to a dry season in the Altai. Locals have noted how far the Potanina Glacier has dropped below the lateral moraine that the trail to base camp follows, and it is also evident that the toe of the glacier has receded far beyond the lake. During our week in the area conditions changed dramatically. It snowed a little on our arrival, but warm weather then toasted the fresh snow and a 30cm more below. Reports indicate that earlier in the year a group of ski mountaineers rejected skiing Naran due to icy conditions. Perhaps this was prudent...(read more)

Photo: Changing snow cover in Mongolian Altai. North face of Naran in June 1992. 1992 Anglo-American route to left, 2011 Direct Route to right. Lindsay Griffin

Kyrgyzstan: Oibala Range, first ascents.

By Bas van der Smeede, Holland

Their reconnaissance trek revealed few signs of human visitation, just tracks from shepherds. It is known that the area was inspected by Soviet geologists in the 1930s, but extensive research showed no previous visit by climbers.

We accessed the mountains through Osh, though we first had trouble with our border permit and had to wait two days before the army eventually gave us permission to access the border zone...(read more)

Photo: Camakchay Tower from south, with the line of Yellow Submarine. Bas van der Smeede

Kyrgyzstan: Pik Vernyi (5,250m), north summit, Cztery Pory Roku.

By Michel Krol, Poland

In 2011 we traveled as before from Bishkek, but when seven km from base camp, the vehicle got stuck in a river. After extracting it the driver stated there was not enough fuel to go farther, so we lost a day carrying gear to base camp. After a rest we established an advanced base on the Kyzyl Asker Glacier and the next day climbed the first three pitches of our proposed line, to check conditions and acclimatize. The ice was good. We rappelled and returned to base.

Three days later we started up the face...(read more)

Photo: Looking south-southeast over Kyzyl Asker Glacier. (A) Pik Unmarked Soldier (5,352m). (B) Pik Vernyi (ca 5,250m). (C) Pik Panfilovski Division (5,290m). (1) North ridge (600m, TD+ Scottish 6, Crampton-Fyffe, 2002, repeated in 2003). (2) 2009 Krol- SokoĊ‚owski attempt. (3) Cztery Pory Roku (direct start). (4) No Shachlik (700m, 6c A3 M6, Christie-Gal-Gal-Gottefrey, 2010). (5) Belorussian-Russian Route (750m, Russian 6B, Bandelet-Malakhovskiy-Mikhailov-Nilov, 2009). (6) Original 1988 Soviet route—northwest face and south ridge. Maria Gal

Kyrgyzstan: Khan Tengri (6,995m), southeast ridge integral.

By Aleksey Ivanov and Vladimir Petlitsky, Russia, supplied by Anna Piunova, mountain.ru, and William Smitt, translated by Ekaterina Vorotnikova

Looking through descriptions of routes on Khan Tengri, we two were surprised to find that the southeast ridge, the longest of the four ridges of this fine pyramid, was still unclimbed. Had no one tried this logical, alluring line?

The ridge had been climbed in parts in the early 1970s...(read more)

Photo: Crossing one of many cornices on southeast ridge. Supplied by Anna Piunova.

India: Raru Valley, various ascents.

By Virgil Scott, UK

With so many of us, we split into two teams of four and approached R6 from opposite flanks. One team would go up a steep gully on the east side, while the other would climb the icy and rocky slopes of the southwest side...(read more)

Photo: Peak 5,985m, with (1) Bhaio aur bheno ki khushi, and (2) descent route. Virgil Scott

India: Miyar Valley, various ascents.

By Gerhard Schaar, Austria

As on previous expeditions, we were stunned by the beauty of the approach, and the dignity with which the local people lead their lives had a great impact on me. Be friendly and respect everyone, but make your point and fear no one. We took three days to reach base camp...(read more)

Photo: Castle Peak (ca 5,470m) from northwest, showing Four Seasons in One Day on west ridge of Iris Peak. Higher summit to left is Stefano Zvaka Peak (ca 5,300m). Main summit of Castle (Tivoli Peak) is hidden behind. Gerhard Schaar

India: Lenak and Giabul Valleys, exploration.

By Kimikazu Sakamoto, Japan

In 2009 our group explored the Raru Valley, taking photographs of virgin peaks and producing a sketch map (AAJ 2010). We presumed there were other hidden valleys in this region, where no mountaineers had explored. I contacted Harish Kapadia about the Lenak and Giabul Valleys, southeast of the Raru. He told me he had never heard of exploration in either...(read more)

Photo: L11 (6,045m), north of Lenak Nala. Kimikazu Sakamoto

A lot more reports are online!

Click the “New” button at aaj.AmericanAlpineClub.org and scroll down to see which reports are from your favorite part of the world.

Please Submit Your New Routes to the AAJ!

If you have climbed or attempted a new mountain or big wall route, please report it to us soon after your success (or glorious failure). While the printed American Alpine Journal only comes out once a year (in July or August), the AAJ Online publishes all year round. Your report will later be published in the famous annual book for the permanent record-and you will receive a copy as a token of our appreciation.

The AAJ strives to be complete-to publish ALL the big new routes-but we can only do this with your help. Please have mercy on your poor editors and send us your report early so that we can keep the world up to date in a timely fashion. The complete Submissions Guidelines are available here, including specific contact names and email addresses. But you can always reach us at aaj@americanalpineclub.org.

A big THANKS! from your editors,
Kelly Cordes
Lindsay Griffin
John Harlin III

What we publish:

The AAJ tries to be the world's "journal of record" for documenting significant new climbs. We seek reports on all new long routes worldwide ("long" typically means a full day or more on the climb itself). We sometimes report a repeat ascent if the peak or route has not been climbed in many years; if there have been major changes in conditions on the mountain; if the style is new (example: first free ascent); if the ascent was exceptionally fast; if it was the first winter ascent (but only of major routes); or if the report supplies vital information for future climbers. We do not publish reports on first "national" ascents (for example, the first American or Italian or Japanese ascent). We also don't cover first women's ascents, handicapped climbs, or other special recognitions. Sometimes, however, we break our own "rules."

How to write a report:

Reports for the Climbs & Expedition section of the AAJ are typically 250-500 words long. The prime goals are to document history and to provide information that helps future climbers in this region, but we enjoy a good story, too! Here is a simple way to remember what should be included in the report: tell the story of your trip ... very briefly!

Be sure to include:

What?-name of peak and route.
Where?-exactly where is it? Country, mountain range, route line.
When?-dates of the expedition.
Who?-names of climbers.
Why?-why did this climb interest
How hard?-difficulty of the climb, using whichever grading system you prefer.

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