Before I became an expeditionary mountaineer I had a certain disdain for difficult climbing objectives. They have their place, of course, and I nodded approvingly whenever I read of some thirteen-day spin-drifted, single-cramponed ascent of an untouched Alaskan face accomplished on a week’s food and fuel. I was glad they did it, and not me.
Instead, I announce to the readership of Harvard Mountaineering, which is to say most of its editors, my part in an expedition of a different sort. Oh sure, the expedition claims the first recorded ascents of nine peaks in the Borkoldoy range of the Kyrgyz Tien Shan1. But I write to share my subversive strategy of making the expedition laborious and complicated enough to merit the title without undue resort to the risks and discomforts of hard climbing. A sneakier path to glory. Continue reading Kyrgyzstan The Hard Way→
The Harvard Mountaineering Club, celebrating its 80th anniversary, sent a team of 8 climbers to the northwestern region of the Borkoldoy.
Read the original [pdf] or read the story behind the story here…
This was the formal blurb summarizing the expeditions results for the American Alpine Journal. My teammates and I posted a more complete record at borkoldoy.harvardmountaineering.org and I also wrote a more personal narrative [pdf] about the expedition for Harvard Mountaineering.
It was the watermelons that finally did it. The suspicious border guard accepted the proffered bags of beer, cigarettes, and watermelons and agreed to negotiate with his supervisor at the Karasai military outpost one last time.