(By Andrey Verkhovod/Tina Sjogren intro) A group of climbers are attempting a repeat of the only Pobeda winter ascent accomplished to date. The original climb included Anatoli Boukreev, took place in 1990 and was mentioned in mountaineer Chris Bonington’s Great Climbs four years later.
Only 15 years ago Kazakh climbers were enigmatic legends to a few initiated mountaineers but unknown to most mainstream climbers in the west.
Kazakh star mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev had made some headlines; more for "appearing" in Krakauer's Into thin Air than for his climbing though. His own The Climb, written in response to Krakauer's book was sadly released only shortly before his 1997 death on Christmas day at Annapurna's south face.
Fast, strong, and determined, new generations of Kazakh climbers continued to take to the big hills. Known to be outstanding when it came to climbing at high altitude, their success was not by chance. Often trained by an Army coach, the climbers practiced as if they were going to war: Routines involved three daily ascents on local peaks, extended and monitored gym sessions, and speed climbs in Boukreev's honor that attracted foreign climbers such as the late Chad Kellogg.
These days, climbers such as Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov are household names in the mountaineering community - and some even know of climbing priest Father Alexander watching over them.
Here's about the current Pobeda climb straight from the horse's mouth by long time Explorersweb contributor Andrey Verkhovod.
2015 Peak Pobeda winter attempt
By Andrey Verkhovod
Not many climbers would try Pobeda in summer, and there were very few who did it in winter.
The international expedition, Pobeda 2015, started in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 17 February 2015. It's aim is a winter ascent of of Peak Pobeda, 7439m, Central Tian Shan.
If successful, it will be only the second lucky attempt ever, after the first (and – so far – the only) ascent made by a group of five mountaineers lead by Valery Khrischatyi on February 2nd in 1990. It was one of four groups that composed a very strong team of 21climbers that participated in now famous Winter Pobeda 1990 Expedition. The leaders of the other three groups were such veterans as V. Balyberdin, A. Boukreev, V. Suviga. No wonder that soon after the expedition, the account of the ascent was included in Chris Bonington’s Great Climbs anthology in 1994.
At first glance, given the current winter enthusiasm in Himalaya and Karakoram, it looks strange that such prestigious target as Peak Pobeda has such a short list of winter attempts.
The first successful winter expedition in1990 was, in fact, the first attempt at winter Pobeda at all. Since then, there was only one recorded attempt undertaken in 2003. There may be various explanations of such “short” statistics but definitely one of the reasons is commonly accepted fact/fear that winter Pobeda is a place for ultimate test of endurance – in one of the most horrible weather conditions on the planet. Not many climbers would try Pobeda in summer, and there were very few that did it in winter.
Further details related to the mountain and the current expedition will follow.
So far, brief data on the started project:
1) It is planned to be conducted during approximately a one month period, starting February 17 (that is, formally, in winter season). The base camp is planned to be organized at standard position, where South Inylchek BC is placed in summer.
2) The expedition is organized by Public Foundation “Kazakhstan Mountain Club”.
3) The team includes 11 active climbers, a doctor and two BC service members. As it was in many previous Kazakh high mountains projects, the head of the expedition is Ervand Iljinsky.
4) The core of the team consists of seasoned climbers having winter and 8K+ experience. It includes Vassiliy (Vaso) Pivtsov, Dmitry Muravjev, Alex Safrygin, Ildar Gabassov ( all Kazakhstan), Sergey Seliverstov (Kyrgyzstan), Artyom Braun (Russia).
5) The team plans to climb via the Abalakov route.
6) The expedition starts from Almaty to Bishkek by car. Then, to economize on logistics, it splits into two parts. Both would be transferred to BC by helicopters, but one part directly from Bishkek while another part from regional city of Karakol.
7) Main sponsors – Almaty Akimat (Almaty City Administration), Astana Motors, RedFox.
8) The expedition is dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War (Peak Pobeda is named in honor of the Victory).
Latest development and current status of the project:
1) Expedition started late evening February 17 from Almaty.
2) Bad weather (fog) has prevented planned transfer to the glacier during the entire day of February 18.
3) Early morning 19 February: according to Vaso’s report, both parts of the team (in Bishkek and Karakol) were still waiting for good weather window.
4) Afternoon 19 February, Vaso reported that they have been eventually airlifted to the South Inylchek glacier. Then the team started to settle their BC. Though it is planned to be placed on the normal spot of the standard summer BC, it needs some time and work to be “re-activated” in winter conditions.
5) According to Vaso, 21 Feb.: Stayed at 4441 for the night. [At morning] 2 groups (10 men) left BC. [Now] Cloudy. At morning, it was -18°.
6) SMS from Vaso, 23 Feb.: Set camp at 4600. Worked up 7 ropes [pitches] above [the camp site]. Tomorrow [we] are going to climb farther up.
Previous by Andrey Verkhovod:
Previous on Explorersweb:
Visit our new website