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Tim Moss

Unclimbed Mountains in the Russian Altai

A first ascent with no climbing skill and not much cash.
I like Tim Moss’s attitude to adventure. I asked him to write something for Adventure1000. He’s busy cycling round the world, so he’s kept it short… Short, but gloriously effective to leave you thinking “what’s my excuse..?!”

21st Century Altai

The Altai is the best mountain range you’ve never heard of. I found it on Google (“world mountain ranges”) and the more I asked around, the more I realised that no one seemed to know much about them (at least not from a British mountaineering perspective).
The expedition was pretty standard in mountaineering terms: fly to an unfamiliar country, spend a few days cobbling supplies from whatever shops you can find, take a bus to a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, hike into the mountains with some pack horses, pitch your tents in a good spot and climb as many mountains as possible before it’s time to go home again.
My personal highlights were finding bear prints in the snow, tweeting from the top of a previously unclimbed mountain (something to be celebrated?) and the long evenings huddled around the stove beneath the stars in our big base camp tent.

But what I think is more interesting is:

  1. We recruited our team by just running an advert in the Royal Geographical Society’s Expedition Bulletin and soon grew from two to six. Not having anyone to go with is no excuse, you are not alone. Try also Explorers Connect and Escape the City.
  2. We made first and first-British ascents without undertaking technical climbing. In fact, one of our team had never even climbed before. These days, mountains are usually unclimbed not because they’re really hard but just because no one’s tried. Technicaly expertise need not be a barrier to a great expedition.
  3. We achieved this in two weeks’ holiday from work. I went a few days early and stayed a few days longer but most of the team were in and out within 15 days. Virgin peak glory and a Siberian summit photo without upsetting the boss.
  4. it cost £1,000 all in. A proper expedition, including flights to Russia, insurance, supplies and logistical support.
Read more about the trip here.

Altai Expedition Life

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Comments

  1. Cool stuff, I am not completely convinced about the “unclimbed” mountain idea. Someone could easily climb a mountain and not mention it online, or register it with an organization, and you would never know. I realize you allude to this a little in the article. but better to refer to it as “first documented ascent” or something.

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