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Pobeda Peak.

Special excursion in Bishkek.

“And if these mountains had eyes, they would wake to find two strangers in their fences, standing in admiration as a breathing red pours its tinge upon earth's shore. These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, long to thunder praise but stand reverent, silent so that man's weak praise should be

Donald Miller. «Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road».

Junket in Kyrgyzstan.

Pobeda Peak is a tough mountain. Firstly, it is world’s ultimate northern mountain of seven-odd thousand metres high (seventhousander). Secondly, meteorological conditions of the region are so unpredictable and severe that it deservingly gave a peak a nick-name of “Treacherous Corner”.
Even in the summer time, as a bolt from the blue, a snow storm may burst out here - with the winds blowing at 150km/h and nil visibility - and then, again all of a sudden, it may stop. Up to the late 1930s Khan Tengri was thought to be the highest peak in Tien Shan.
The ice mass that constitutes Pobeda Peak, which is almost always hidden behind thick clouds, had escaped the notice of mountaineers and explorers such as Semionov, Cesare Borghese and Gottfried Merzbacher.
Even in those rare days when it was visible, Pobeda seemed to be smaller than Khan Tengri because it is more northerly, hence farther from the valleys that afford access to this region, as can be seen in the panoramic photographs that Merzbacher took at the beginning of this century.
And yet the local inhabitants' accounts and stories speak of two very high, splendid and terrifying mountains - Khan Tengri and Khan-tau. Semionov had no precise indications con-rerning the location of the two mountains, so he identified Khan-Tengri with the fantastic icy pyramid he saw during his second expedition.
But the natives most probably identified Khan Tengri, the "Lord of the Spirits," as the roof of the Celestial Mountains, while the mountain we now call Khan-Tengri was called Khantau in Kyrgyz - "Blood Mountain," because the pyramid becomes red at dusk.
The first persons to attempt to climb up Pobeda were a three-man team of mountaineers led by L. Gutman. They went up the northern side of the Zviozdochka (Little Star) glacier in September 1938, when the temperature was -30 °C.
To this day there are serious doubts as to whether they really succeeded in conquering the peak. In any case, the three alpinists were not aware they were trying to climb up the tallest peak in the Tien Shan system.
The true geographic "discovery" of the peak was made only in 1943. The first successful climb dates from 1956, when an expedition headed by V. Abalakov reached the summit after a 30-day climb. Abalakov called it Peak Pobeda, or Victory Peak, as a tribute to the Red Army's triumph in the war against the Nazis.
Many mountaineers had attempted to climb the forbidding peak before Abalakov and the outcome was often tragic, as in the case of the 1955 Kazakh expedition: eleven of the twelve members of the team died in their tent at 6,900 meters during a violent snowstorm.
In 1958, I. Erokhins expedition made the first climb via the Chon-Teren glacier. The complete crossing of the massif from east to west was made in 1970 by A. Riabukhin's expedition. Set amidst the Kokshaal-Tau (Forbidding Mountains) chain, Pobeda Peak is the northernmost peak over 7,000 meters high in the world.
The weather conditions during climbs are extremely rough. The rare days with good weather are separated by long periods of bad weather in which the icy wind from the Takla Makan desert - significantly called "Thousand Devils" - often buffets the mountain, making it impossible to climb.
In winter this region is even more severe. And there is nothing for mountaineer to do here in the winter time. Only once, over nearly 70-years long history of exploration, in 1990, mountaineers got to the top of Pobeda in winter, after which event half of the expedition members had to spend quite a time at Sklifasovsky hospital in Moscow, and, as you can guess, not at all for having a rest there.
Till up to 1969, the number of those who succeeded and stayed alive and those who died on the peak was nearly equal. Only after 1969 mountaineers have outscored the deadly statistics. But it does not mean that the mountain has become easier to climb.
It is all just about better tactics and some other novelties that helped the case. Of course, more advanced contemporary gear contributed to that, too. Nonetheless, it happens nearly every season that somebody dies in the area – either of falling down or of altitude sickness or of hypothermia.
Most often it happens due to human mistakes and stupidity. Still such objective hazards as avalanches and bad weather should not be discarded, too. But, as Russians say: ”It is not God, who makes pottery”, - people went to Pobeda before, they keep going there now and, surely, will keep going there in the future.
The only wish is: God forbid them of dead on the mountain. Good mountaineer is a live mountaineer.

Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.Mountains of the Central Tien-Shan and environs of peak Pobeda.

Authority:
http://mountains.tos.ru/clmb.htm

Photos by
Alexander Petrov and Vladimir Serbenko.