The Altai

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

Dzaniktu as viewed from the opposite side of the valley.

Dzhaniktu (3942m) - PD+

Date: 21st August 2012
Climbers: G. Cave, C. Conlon, E. Dawson
Duration: 7 hours to summit, 5 hours return to valley
Status: First British ascent and probable first ever ascent

Route Description

From a bivy high up on the north side of the corrie, climb the N ridge along the left hand side of the glacier, following it round to traverse across the top of the glacier heading west. Continue on rock past the high point at 3581m to reach the snow. Continue south up the glacier (3 pitches of 40-50° ice, 50m+ each) to the summit plateau. Summit at 3942m is located on the far side (SE). Descent via SE ridge on rock over 3716m point.

Route Details

The bivy site is easily reached from the valley floor by climbing into the hanging valley and heading around to the right. Basecamp to bivy site was approximately a 5 hour walk. We were fortunate that a lack of rainfall in the preceeding week had made the river low enough to ford easily.


We left the bivy site at around 3:30am. The approach ridge was a little awkward to find in the dark, but easy enough to follow. The ridge becomes progressively harder, steeper and looser as it continues, the section around the 3581m being the worst in terms of rock quality. The glacier, by contrast, gave three fantastic pitches, which we moved together up as a 3 placing ice screws for protection (rock ridge was soloed).

The summit plateau was very large and reminiscent of the Cairngorms. GPS measured the height 20m higher than that marked on the map, giving 3942m. The descent is an arduous scree slope, gained by first dropping off the back of the glacier towards the 3716m peak marked on the map. Much of the walkout valley is filled with moraine.

The original plan to climb as two pairs was changed as Greg had a minor injury to his knee picked up earlier in the trip on a scree descent and he did not accompany us.

View back down the snow to the rocky approach ridge below.

Eleri and George setting off after gearing up at the start of the glacier.

Previous Known Ascents

We considered that our line up the mountain offered the most interesting line which did not cross the imposing NE face. The face has huge hanging seracs across both the top and bottom edges, however, we are aware of a Russian party who made an ascent of the left hand side of this face in May 2001 (when the approach to these is banked out with snow). Our Russian climbing contact Max Luchko is not aware of any other parties who have ever taken the same line as us. We know that the very top of our route was used as a descent (by abseil) by a Russian party, but they then continued to descend down a gully avoiding our approach ridge.

Summit photo!