Three Climbers Pull Off 15-Peak Traverse in Kyrgyzstan

In modern alpinism, traverses have become one of the dominant ways of getting your name in the history books.

That’s what happened in Kyrgyzstan last month when a three-person team completed the first-ever traverse of the “Aksay horseshoe,” enchaining 15 peaks in the Tien Shan Mountains in a single, massive push.

The achievement was announced on the Russian climbing site Climbers Tikhon von Stackelberg and Roman Abildaev, led by Egor Matveenko, completed the traverse between Feb. 17 and Feb. 26.

They started with the ascent of Box Peak (4,240m) on the Mikhailov route and finished with the peak of Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky (4,875m).

Little-known jewel

Details were scant this week, but a guiding website said that the Aksay Glacier and its surrounding mountains offer some of Kyrgyzstan’s best hiking and climbing.

“The Ala-Archa Gorge, which is close to Bishkek, houses the majestic mountains of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too, which help make up the ‘Aksay horseshoe,’ mountains precisely curved to deny entrance to the southern winds that try to blow into the valley, leaving them encrusted in a huge shield of ice,” Silk Road Explore wrote.

According to, the horseshoe traverse completed last month includes the following peaks. The numbers correspond to a panoramic photo posted on the site and visible in the above Facebook post. (Russian climbing grade scale and explanation available here.)

1 – The slopes of the highest point of the district: the peak of Semenov Tien-Shansky (4,875m, 67 meters higher than Mont Blanc), 7 routes from 3A to 5B.
2,3,4 – Crown, an array with six peaks from 4,750m to 4,860m. About 15 routes from 2A to 6A.
5 – Peak Seeker (4,400m), 3 routes from 2A to 3B.
6 – Cosmonauts Peak (4,200m), one route 3B.
7 – Baylyan-Bashi (4,700m), 3 routes from 2B to 5A.
8 – Simagina (4,400m), 3 routes from 4B to 5B.
9 – Free Korea (4,740m), about 20 routes from 4B to 6A+.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.