Annapurna: Kazakhs Maxut and Vassiliy on the SUMMIT!

Posted: May 19, 2006 09:24 am EDT

( Maxut Zhumayev (29) & Vassiliy Pivtsov (30) summited Annapurna today at 9:20 am, Moscow time. They have climbed Annapurnas normal French route (North side) in alpine style, in five days," reported Russian Climb.

The two set off from C4 at 7315 m last midnight in great weather conditions. However, the route was overloaded with snow they had to break trail in deep snow all the way up to the summit.

By summiting Annapurna, the Kazakhs have completed a successful spring double-header: They previously summited Dhaulagiri in full storm conditions on May 2. Anna is also the 10th 8000er for Max and Vassiliy.

Weather changed in 24 hours

Whilst the Kazakhs reported good weather today, they had placed a strong bet: Yesterday they reached C4 in very bad conditions. "We started at 5:00 am from Camp 3," they reported on Thursday. "We climbed one pitch on ice and proceeded to the upper icefall. At 7:00 am a strong wind arrived; then came the snow, clouds and low (20 m) visibility. We set Camp 4 at 7315 m after breaking trail in the snow. We're fine and hope for fine weather tomorrow."

The same high winds swept the East ridge, forcing Polish Piotr Pustelnik's team back. "We are on the ridge since Wednesday," reported Piotr yesterday. "We have established a camp, we planned to go to the east summit, but ... [the connection interrupted by weather conditions]..." Artur Hajzer (HiMountain Team), coaching the team from home reported that heavy winds had forced the team back to camp.

Two teams, two routes, one dangerous mountain

The Polish mBank Lotto Himalayan Trilogy team is following the line opened by legendary Polish climbers Artur Hajzer (now advising the climbers) and Jerzy Kukuczka in 1988 - a route reaching the East ridge from the South side of the mountain. The French, classic route which the Kazakhs have climbed, is on Annapurna's north side. No other teams have been reported this season on Annapurna.

Maxut Zhumayev,was born on January 1, 1977. His regular climbing buddy Vassiliy Pivtsov was born on August 16, 1975. Despite their young age, theyve now summited ten 8000ers (including Kangchenjunga and Makalus West ridge) - all of them without supplementary O2.

This season, the pair previously summited Dhaulagiri after a single push, reaching the top in full storm conditions.

Already in 2003, the Kazakh National 3 in 1 team, with Maxut and Vassiliy as members, managed to accomplish 2 out of 3 peaks in one summer, Nanga Parbat and Broad; the first of which they ascended in a scant 15 or 16 days. By then, the young pair had already summited both Gasherbrums (2001), Shisha Pangma (2002) and the highly difficult Kangchenjunga (2002).

In 2004, the Kazaks ascended Makalu's West Pillar. In spring 2005, Maxut and Vassiliy showed up on Cho Oyu (despite the air company losing some of their gear) and accomplished one of the first summits of the season. In summer they went for K2 and launched two amazingly bold attempts in very bad conditions. Finally they had to call the expedition off - not because the mountain won them over - but because someone stole much of their equipment in the peak's lower camps.

Annapurna - the most dangerous of all the 8000ers, with a summit/fatality rate exceeding 40%.


The 'Nameless summiteers' in their early days.
Capture the pain, the doubt, the fear - and the triumph. Image of Maxut on the summit of Dhaulagiri, courtesy of Russian Climb (click to enlarge).

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