(MountEverest.net) It's the most important list in high altitude mountaineering - the exclusive record of the very few people who have summited ten or more of the world's tallest peaks - the 14, 8000ers. After ExWeb first published an update last week, a number of emails with proposed additions arrived. Most were close but no cigar - usually halted on the fore- summits of Broad Peak or Shisha Pangma. But two guys surfaced who definitely are entitled their place in the Himalayan hall of fame.
Barely 30 years old, they have already summited 10 out of the 14, 8000ers; Kazakh young guns Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov, regular climbing mates from the Central Sport Club of Kazakhstan Army are serious contenders in the battle for the highest peaks on Earth.
The nameless summiteers
Hardly anyone noticed when the two Kazakh warrior kids stood on their first 8000+ meter summit: The year was 2001 and the place was Hidden Peak. Seven days later, they summited GII.
The following year they reached the top of Kangchenjunga in spring and Shisha Pangma Main in fall, but still their names passed un-noticed, veiled by the rather anonymous Kazakh national team they belonged to.
Again in 2003, Maxut and Vassiliy were overshadowed when their group of Kazakhs accompanied the all-star team of Ed Viesturs, JC Lafaille, and Simone Moro on a Karakorum triple-header.
Led by the already well-known Denis Urubko; Maxut and Vassiliy were among the summiteers on Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak that summer only K2 resisted the expedition.
The way to independence
The Kazakh national team began to raise attention in 2004, when they summited Makalu via the west Pillar again, including Maxut and Vassiliy.
Last year though, something changed for Zhumayev and Pivtsov: the two showed up on Cho Oyu - alone. Their gear lost by the airline, the young guns borrowed stuff from a Russian team they met in Kathmandu and bagged the top on May 3 - in a season with very few summiteers on the peak.
Drama on K2
Summer came, and the Kazakhs returned to settle their pendant account with K2. Maxut was leading the team, which also included Vassiliy, Damir Molgachev and Serguey Brodsky.
Together with Polish and Hungarian climbers they launched a summit bid that was pushed back by an approaching storm. Everybody was forced back that is everyone but Max, Vassi and Damir.
As hours went by in silence, the entire climbing world was watching over the three bold kids trapped in a killer storm. Top mountaineers solicited ExWeb for news; Kazakh friends asked the world to join in prayers. Ironically, it was this drama rather than their previous achievements that finally made people familiar with the two shy mountaineers' faces.
Days later, the Kazakhs entered back in BC - alive and kicking after reaching 8400m on K2. Dead sat phone batteries had caused the silence. They launched another summit push, but aborted after finding their C1 robbed clean.
2006: A double-header, Kazakh way
In spring this year, Maxut and Vassiliy achieved a double-header many have tried lately in vain: Dhaulagiri and Annapurna.
Once again, the two young climbers did it their way: While other teams on Dhaula reach the mountain in a chopper, and then spend time to set up camps and acclimatize - Maxut and Vassiliy trekked to BC in deep snow and over high passes, breaking trail for their porters. Once at the base of the mountain, they went straight for the top in a single push - without giving too much thought to weather forecasts or snow conditions which happened to be very bad.
From Dhaula storms to Anna's deep snow
After four bivouacs and fixing all the rope they needed on the way, the two mountaineers went for the summit on May 2. As we reached the West ridge the storm broke loose around us, with thunder and very strong wind, they reported back then. We reached the top three hours later and returned to C4. When we got there, there was no tent to be seen it was completely buried in fresh snow. We had to dig it out; it was 9:00pm (21 hours after the pair started out) when we could finally enter the tent.
After that, the two trekked over to Annapurnas north side BC. The only team there, they broke trail in deep snow all the way up on Annas avalanche-prone slopes, and summited in alpine style, after a five day-long climb, on May 19.
Four to go
The Kazakhs still have K2, Everest, Lhotse and Manaslu to go. Usually on a tight budget, at least the two have plenty of time to finish: Vassiliy is 31; Maxut will turn 30 on New Years Day.
Maxut Zhumayev was born on January 1, 1977; Vassiliy Pivtsov was born on August 16, 1975. Before venturing in the Himalayas, both were experienced climbers, awarded several times for their climbing achievements in the ex-USSR.
They have both summited 10, 8000ers - they never used supplementary O2 or hired high altitude porters. They still have Everest, Lhotse, K2 and Manaslu to go, in order to complete all 14.
Maxut and Vassiliy are part of a National Army team coached by Ervand Iljinsky.
At this point, only 12 men and no woman have summited all 14 8000ers in the world. Italian Reinhold Messner was first with the summit of Lhotse in 1986; the latest to achieve the feat was American Ed Viesturs, on Annapurna. Only 5 men made it without O2: Messner, Viesturs, Swiss Erhard Loretan, and Spaniards Juan Oiarzabal and Alberto Iñurrategi.
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