Chinese Tien Shan
The Xuelian range lies in Xinjiang Province close to the borders of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and although it forms a major part of the Chinese Tien Shan, it is little visited. The prime objective of this trip was to make the first ascent of the NW Ridge of Xuelian East (c.6400m), but bad weather with heavy snow prevented the team getting within 25 km of the glacier, so they concentrated on their back-up, Sulamar (5380m). On this, despite regular thunderstorms and more snow, in a 6-day round trip Fowler and Ramsden were successful in making a traverse with the first ascent of the North Face and descent via the unclimbed South Ridge at a grade of TD sup. (This was the second ascent of the peak, which was originally climbed in 2008 by Bruce Normand’s team: they had named the peak Khanalak 2, but the locals know it as Sulamar.) Fowler & Ramsden went on to investigate the climbing potential of the Chulebos Peaks, while Morrison and Smith explored the previously unvisited side glaciers feeding the Muzart Glacier.