The Altai

Exploration in Southern Siberia, 9th-28th August 2012

George looking for reception at 3900m in the Altai. Fortunately there was plenty on the summits.


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Common Questions

We get asked a few questions quite a lot, so hopefully this list will help...

1) How do you know if a mountain hasn't been climbed?

The simple answer is that you don't. We've got a number of lists of every route attempted and climbed within the Altai from several Russian sources. They seem to correlate fairly closely and list first ascent dates and climbers. The best information we have is that Russian climbers rarely stray off of established lines, and in any event our list is pretty small compared to the number of actual summits in the region.

Having said that, we believe the likelyhood of claiming the world first ascent of a mountain will be very low, and we don't plan on doing so unless we have good reason to believe we have. On the otherhand, claiming the first Western/European/British ascent will be comparatively easier since catalogues of previous trips can be sourced and read. But it can be quite easy to get too tied up in defining a unique first for a trip. This is an exploratory mountaineering trip, looking for new and exciting routes up mountains which have probably been climbed just a handful of times before. We will document with photos and descriptions every route climbed, along with our best understanding of whether it has previously been attempted.

2) Why did you pick the Altai?

The credit for the location idea should go to an adventurer called Tim Moss. In November 2011 he first mentioned the location as a possible mountaineering target to some of the group at the RGS Explore conference. From that seed grew this trip.

3) Can you speak Russian?

We can't, beyond a few basics which we have been learning recently. For research online and e-mail communication, Google Translate has been quite the saviour. To help with some of the logistics in Barnaul and for transportation to/from basecamp we plan to hire some local support.

4) Who on earth is Greg?

You are probably asking this because you know George, Clay and Eleri already. Greg also went to Bristol University, a year or so ahead of George, but climbed mostly with UBMC rather than UBES.

5) Is Clay his real name?

Yes it is. Clay Conlon is a great name for a mountaineer we think. A bit like Kenton Cool.