Piotr Pustelnik might have retired from 8000ers climbing - but his sons are there to contiue the family legacy. Image of Piotr (left) by Karrar Haidri, ExplorersWeb Pakistan; image of Adam and Pawel on the summit of Slevsov courtesy of the expedition team /Wspinanie.pl (click to enlarge).
We tried to leave behind as little fixed protection as possible," said Pawel Pustelnik after opening Amba route. Image of his brother Adam under the west face of Ortotyubek, with the new in red, courtesy of the expedition team /Wspinanie.pl (click to enlarge).
Image of Adam Pustelnik on the 9th pitch (7c/c+) of "Amba", courtesy of the expedition team /Wspinanie.pl (click to enlarge).
Topo of Amba route, courtesy of the expedition team /Wspinanie.pl (click to enlarge).
Like father like sons: Piotr Pustelnik's kids open a new route in Ak-Su Valley

Posted: Sep 14, 2006 03:01 pm EDT
(K2Climb.net) Over his 16 years in the Himalayas, Piotr Pustelnik has always led by example. The first to follow is his own family. Adam and Pawel, Piotr's two sons, continue the family's mountaineering legacy - with cool results already. August, Adam and Pawel Pustelnik climbed Ak-Su peak, in Kyrgyzstan.

Polish action on Ak Su Valley

"We were the only expedition in the Ak-Su Valley, reported Pawel on Wspinanie website. We had all those beautiful, massive walls all to ourselves. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection the rock often turned out to be loose the walls definitely looked much better from a distance. The weather was also bombproof - it was warm and dry as a bone."

The brothers made a new route on the west face of Ortotyubek (also known as the Central Pyramid or Peak 3850). The resulting 1100 meter-long route was called Amba (VI, 7c/c+). They needed 1 day to fix ropes, and 4 more days to complete the climb.

Opening Amba, onsighting Perestroika

Most pitches have a degree of 6a to 6b difficulty, but there are also some 7th degree sections. The most difficult pitch (7c/c+) tackles a series of roofs in the middle of the route.

Most of the route follows new terrain; yet at some points the route intersects, and on at least one pitch follows an unidentified aid route, said Pawel. We tried to leave behind as little fixed protection as possible - we inserted a single belay bolt and on the key pitch through the roofs (7c/c+) we used 3 old bolts as protection. The rest of the climbing follows the rules of clean style."

Then, the Pustelniks moved to Slesov (also known as the Russian Tower, 4250m), where they teamed up with Slawek Cyndecki for an onsight ascent of Perestroika Crack (VI, 7b, 1000m). The route was originally freed by French team in 1993 and repeated in a single 28-hour push by Greg Child and Lynn Hill in 1995.

Slawek Cyndecki, Pawel Grenda and Marcin Szymelfenig also attempted to open a new route on an unnamed tower (approx. 4300m) on Peak 4810s SE side. The team climbed 22 pitches before retreating due to constant rock fall.

The team also comprised Slawek Cyndecki, Pawel Grenda, Bartek Malinowski, and Marcin Szymelfenig.

The Central Pyramid and the Russian Tower dominate the eastern side of the Ak Su Valley, Pamir-Alai, Kyrgyzstan. The area is filled with impressive rock towers along the Turkestan range, at the side of Laylayk Gorge. The highest altitude is reached by Ak-su peak (5355m). Its highly difficult north face, which rises up to 5217 m, is a big wall, 1500 meters tall. (Facts provided by Alexander Ruchkin).

Piotr Pustelniks 8000+m summits: Gasherbrum II - July 19th, 1990; Nanga Parbat - July 12th, 1992; Cho-Oyu - September 24th, 1993; Shisha Pangma - October 6th, 1993; Dhaulagiri - September 26th, 1994; Mount Everest - May 12th, 1995; K2 - August 14th, 1996; Gasherbrum I - July 15th, 1997; Lhotse May 15th, 2000; Kangchenjunga May 15th 2001; Makalu May 16th, 2002; Manaslu May 17th, 2003, Broad Peak July 8th, 2006.

All in all, Piotr has climbed 13 main summits and 8000m peaks 16 times. He reached Broad Peak's foresummit on July 21, 2005; Annapurna East summit on May 20, 2006; and Gasherbrum II main summit in a second ascent on July 21st, 1997.

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