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Expedition of Koskulak(7028)

label:Expedition,Koskulak,7028,Kosku Release time:2016-03-16 10:35
 Koskulak Peak(7028m)

                      Expedition of Koskulak(7028)
Koskulak Peak (7028 m) is located not far from Muztagh-Ata. The easiest climbing routes are from the West along the snow slopes that are very similar to the western slopes of Muztagh-Ata. The first ascent of Koskulak Peak was done by a Russian team of M. Volkov along the North-West Ridge on 12.08.2005. Two Russians - A. Petrov and V. Odokhovskiy - climbed Koskulak along the South-West Ridge on 19.08.2005. Then the team of M. Volkov summited Koskulak along the very difficult North Ridge on 27.08.2005. Also in August 2005 two Russian climbers - V. Shamalo and A. Gorbatenkov - successfully climbed the North Wall of Koskulak.
As there are so many rumors about Muztagh Ata being the easiest 7000 m peak, I must say Koskulak is in many ways easier. First, it's about 500 meters lower and that makes a big difference. The route (NW ridge) is more direct and you don't have to deal with a lot of navigation in ice falls. There are fewer crevasses. Shorter, easier, lower and more direct!

The normal route has a crux though and it may change from year to year. At about 6200-6300 meters there's a ridge, which you have to traverse. It's about 45 degrees at the steepest. seasoned mountaineers just walk straight to the other side without thinking much about it if the snow conditions are fine. On the northern side of this traverse there's cornices and a huge drop down to the Kalaxong glacier. Don't get too close to the edge of it!
Some may want to fix ropes on this stretch or rope up with your climbing partner(s).
On the far side of the traverse there are two huge crevasses, but it's (at least in 2007) easy to navigate around them. From there on it's a straight walk to the summit.

There's one more alternative on Koskulak which can be considered even if you're not a super-technical climber - the SW ridge. It's much longer though and there's a passage which looked like it could be tricky from my viewpoint on the NW ridge. All other routes are hard and you have to bring a lot of gear to climb them.

That's the good news, but here are some things to consider before heading there bagging an "easy peak":
·  NO peak over say 6000-6500m is easy. You have to acclimatize well and spend a lot of time just getting used to the lower oxygen levels. When over 7000m it's hard to breath and your energy levels will go low quickly. Be careful with all symptoms of altitude reletad illnesses.
·  It's cold up there. First because of the altitude itself. Count on a drop of about 7 Celsius for every 1000m ascent. On top of that, frostbite has easier to set in as your blood is getting thicker on altitude. Be careful when you choose gear for Koskulak. On neighboring Muztagh Ata there are many cases of frostbite every year, of which some result in amputations.
·  The peak's slopes are gentle and you have to spend a long time on high altitude. You are very exposed to the high winds all the way from C2 to the summit.
·  The snow can be deep on Koskulak. To use snowshoes is probably the best option. Skis also works fine, but to attempt the peak without neither is a very hard task. Some people do make it to the summit with only crampons (or even without), but they sometimes have to deal with meter deep snow.
·  The logistical part on a mountain of Koskulak's size also makes it hard. Most teams make a lot of carries to the different camps and it's tough work on altitude.
·  Many climbers have problems to eat in the higher camps and this results in tiredness and the motivation can drop quickly.
·  The temperatures can be very high and the sunlight strong during the day. It can be hard to rest even during the day if the temperature goes up to +40 Celsius in the tent. Sunburn is common and even sunstrokes do occur.

All the above mentioned points applies to any mountain of Koskulak's elevation, but take all this into consideration before regarding it as a walk-over or easy peak.

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