Tiüz pass is more serious than the other passes we crossed earlier. It is 4001 meters (13,100 feet) high and steep on both sides, with some patches of permanent snow. The terrain is a glacier-left desolation of small stones with nothing growing. We could only think of one place in the Sierras that is similarly desolate: the hard-to-reach Ionian Basin.
Since we camped high, the final steep climb took only a couple hours even at our stately pace. The view was remarkable, and I accepted our guide's suggestion to climb a small peak for an even better perspective. From there, we could see the entire Inylchek valley and the 60-kilometer-long glacier where we will spend most of the next 10 days. Peaks Khan-Tengri and Pobiedy towered over the top of the glacier. Straight across the valley was the 3000-meter (10,000 foot) face of 5700-meter Nansen peak.
The 1200-meter (4000 foot) descent was difficult, especially for Marcia, who continues to favor the knee she hurt many years ago in a skiing accident. I too went slowly to avoid reinjuring my recently sprained ankle. We both made it down without incident.
We camped at a place called Chon-Tash (“big rock”) not far from the foot of the glacier. It had been a long but wonderful day.