K2 - Kazakhs: Its over Our gear has been stolen!

Posted: Aug 24, 2005 11:15 am EDT

Someone stole the young guns' dream. The boldest K2 team this season was ready to face cold, isolation, exposure, avalanches and high winds but there was one thing they weren't prepared for: All their gear stolen from a lonely tent in one of the most desolate places on Earth.

High altitude thieves

At their arrival in ABC, the guys found out, that someone has stolen all their equipment, including crampons," reported Russianclimb earlier today. The final summit push is not happening. Maxut and Vassily will remove camps.

Back in Kazakhstan Ervand Iljinsky, the teams coach, has suggested the equipment could have been snatched from the tents by porters hired by leaving expeditions. They could have entered the tents as they dismantle other teams higher camps.

In this case, the MOL Hungarian expedition was the last large outfit on the mountain and should check with their porters. Also the Polish and American Fabrizzio should raise hell with their staff. So should the trekking agencies, and the porters between them. The important part is to send a message that this is not OK - no matter if you are Pakistan porter, Nepali Sherpa or international climber.

A serious issue

This kind of tent-burglary have increased in later years, on all the 8000ers. The robbed are usually independent climbers or small teams, and they only notice the missing gear when they reach the high camps.

It is a very serious offence - going further than money. Robbing high camps could lead to death. A sleeping bag, fuel, oxygen bottles, or any other essential stuff missing from a tent during a summit push wrecks summit dreams and can easily kill. It's the equivalent of robbing fire fighters, emergency rooms or stranded sailors - it is the lowest of all crimes and in the old days such thieves were shot on the spot.

Alone

In the Kazakhs' case, the theft was especially cruel. All alone on the mountain, there was no one to ask for help, or borrow gear from. It is also unclear, how Maxut and Vassily will retrieve the high camps without basic climbing equipment.

The Kazakh Army' young guns on K2 are Maxut (Zhuma) Zhumayev (leader), Vassiliy (Vaso) Pivtsov (Maxut's regular climbing buddy), Damir Molgachev and Serguey (Serg) Brodsky. Yesterday, they departed BC on their second summit push through the Abruzzi Spur route.

They are the only reported team on the mountain. Nobody has summited K2 this year.

The Kazakh's are as usual coached by Ervand Iljinsky. The climbers are part of a national team of Kazakhstan climbers with the intent to summit all fourteen 8,000m peaks in time to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union, coming up in December 2006.


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This is how we first got to know them, in 2005: Maxut Zhumayev, Vassiliy Pivtsov, Damir Molgachev and Serguey Brodsky were forced to abort their lonely summit bid on K2's Abruzzi ridge not due to mountain conditions - but theft - a new risk to be added to the list of dangers on Himalayan expeditions. Image of the climbers courtesy of RussianClimb.

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