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Author: Oleg Khvostenko, Krasnoyarsk
NEW ROUTE ON POBEDA PEAK (VIA PEAK ARMENIA), NORT FACE
In August of this year the team from Siberia within the framework of the Championship of Russia went a route via the North Face of Pobeda Peak through Armenia Peak and with further traverse through the main top 7439m. The team consisted of two climbers from Novosibirsk and six climbers from Krasnoyarsk.
The editorial note. This ascent on Pobeda Peak went on a new route - through Armenia peak (earlier known as Soviet Armenia peak). Armenia peak, 7100m, is a small eminence in a ridge between Main (7349 ì) and East (7048 ì) tops of Pobeda Peak. Earlier on Armenia peak there were no independent routes (it was passed either at an ascent on Pobeda Peak from the east (through East Summit of Pobeda) or at traverse whole Pobeda-massif from the West to the East.
TRUTHFUL HISTORY of ascent
For the first time Gleb Sokolov contemplated the idea of the first ascent of Pobeda Peak in 2002 during his staying on Southern Enylchek. After a year, due to financial support of the International Mountaineering Club, he got the opportunity to carry out this project. The members of the team leaded by Gleb, were the Krasnoyarians: Peter Kuznetsov, Vladimir Arhipov, Jack Bakalejnikov, Sergey Cherezov, Alexander Mikhalitsin, Oleg Khvostenko and a Novosiberian Sergey Filatov. In the base camp a support was provided by a doctor Andrey Osadchy and assistants Alexey Komissarov and Ekaterina Roerich. Later operator Jury Bajkovsky and Olga Zubkova joined us.
We were transferred to Enylchek in the end of July. We settled the base camp between the camps Asia - Tour and Aksay-Travel. And we were pleasantly struck by the quantity of people on the glacier and especially percentage ratio between national and foreign climbers.
1st stage. An acclimatization ascent of Khan Tengry via the classical route. The first going out - ascent up to the ridge at 5900m, having a rest in the base camp, the second going out - summit the top. Four climbers: Arhipov, Cherezov, Khvostenko, Mikhalitsin, not hoping for their poor high-altitude experience, arranged the acclimatization under the strengthened aspects to themselves. In the second going out we spent night at 6100m, and the next night - right at the top of Khan.
The night at seven-thousandth altitude blown by all winds was painful, however it positively affected our physical form. Further we had to spend night at top of Pobeda Peak without any problems. You should listen sometimes to the theorists of high-altitude ascents.
2nd stage. It began from setting up of the advanced camp on Zvyozdochka (Asterisk) glacier.
The bottom bastion exceeded all our expectations. The steepness of some sites came nearer to 80 degrees, the relief was uneasy with overhangs above. Permanently something came down from each side. On a head it did not fall yet, but all the same it was very terrible. We didn't manage to rush to the balcony-ledge. We named the process of working up on the Wall "fighting start" and after descending from the Wall we put an asterisk on a fuselage like pilots in Second World War. We were working by three by turns. For four days we made 13 pitches and went out to the ice-fall.
On August 12 we made a push, climbed 3 pitches more on the ice-fall and left the zone of bombardment. The bastion was subjugated. After that we could sigh more easily. We spent the night on a flat snow site.
The next morning we are examined and carried reconnoitring out. Where did we appear? And we found out that we stayed on a balcony-ledge of the Northern Face. The wide ledge was stretching along the whole Wall. We would take a walk under the east top or to pass under the main top via Zhuravlyov's route. But we didn't have any time to walk about, after a dinner we continued to clear our own staircase to the heaven.
The weather was established ideal. We, certainly, expected a dirty trick, therefore we moved ahead with the maximal speed. The top part of the Wall looked not so terribly. First nothing was hanging above our heads, second there was not so abruptly, thirdly, generally, our route passed on firn, only sometimes crossed by rocky sites. However, in case of a snowfall all our way would turn in an avalanche receptacle, about that fact avalanche cones on which were approaching to the Wall eloquently spoke. If the weather absolutely deteriorated, It would be too uneasy to escape from there. Nobody wanted to rappel via the route of the ascent. There weren't the route backwards. Let move forward, to the zone of death!
On August 14 we come off a ledge and we installed a camp II at about 6000 meters. On a small crest we managed to cut out a platform for two tents. So we spent the night with comfort. On our calculations we had to make about 20 pitches (approximately 800m) to reach the ridge. Suitable places for installing out tent was not looked through. We had only 10 ropes to fix up, and sedentary spending the night was not included into our tactical plans, so we had to climb that site for one day.
On August 15 we were working on the route. On August 16 we made a powerful push, for a day we climbed about 700 meters on a vertical and we reached, at last, the ridge. We stood at 6700m. It was not the top of Pobeda Peak yet, but it was already a half of victory! At least, from there we was able to descend through the east top on Chonteren Col. To breathe began more easy (figuratively).
On August 17. The ridge of Pobeda was not an ideal place for the pedestrian walks. We fixed 7 ropes up to ascend Armenia Peak. With your will you could fall down both to the north, and to the south. The top of Armenia met us a strong wind. But and the panorama developed before our eyes was fantastic. The main top on east face fell a wide slope: we could see the top part of the mythical southern face on the left and on the right - Abalakov's dim and an ice-fall on the center. And we could see unknown ranges and peaks of Kun-Lun stretching to the south from the east face of peak of Military Topographers, in the northern side of Khan-Tengri. We spent the night at the bottom of the main top.
On August 18. Pobeda Peak, all this time was such far and unattainable, became, at last, tangible. We ascended on the east slope. There was a strong wind to our faces and a snowstorm, the visibility was about one hundred meters. There was a knee-deep snow carpet, and we slowly trampled down by turns. The space stood, the time stopped, we didn't see any prospect. At last Peter Kusnetsov and I crept out the place that very strongly reminded the maximum top of Tien Shan. There appeared breaks in a fog. The ridge extended further without increases and we couldn't see the end of it. We stood near a small rocky pyramid and found out that it was the top of Pobeda Peak. Somewhere here there should be a cairn , we searched for it without any result. But nearby from a snow we could see a body - somebody had not had enough forces to descend. The topmost stone became a gravestone to him. You can seldom meet people there, the majority of climbers stop near the cairn from the western side of top - but it is hardly lower. Up to the maximum top, at east extremity you have to move one and a half more kilometer at 7400m, but then in fact you have to come back. In our case it was not necessary to us to come back, we made traverse the top from the East to the West.
Gleb approached and tried to make some photographs. The visibility was gradually improving. The others were a little backward - the speed of our moving was rather low. As the time already approached by the evening, we decided to go further on the ridge, looking for a suitable place for a camp. It would be better to stop for spending the night earlier, than to appear overtaken by a darkness in an inconvenient place. We didn't have any desire to wander along in the darkness.
The topmost ridge of Pobeda Peak was in places rather sharp. We stood one leg in China, another in Kirghizia. To fall from there seemed to be a long way. At last we fond a convenient flexure. While the others were approaching, we were engaged in construction of a wind-shelter wall. The iron shovel with a wooden handle served us faithfully all these days. And here on a topmost ridge of Pobeda Peak, at the altitude 7430 meters, there was its benefit performance. We weren't going to carry a shovel down, here it found its own eternal haven. Perhaps it would serve to somebody, but it seemed hardly.
Other guys moved up. We settled two tents. We spent the night at the top with comfort - platforms for the tents were equal. It was a romantic night. The wind abated towards evening. We slept with interrupted but strong dream. Good acclimatization bears the fruits.
On August 19. It was dazzling clear morning. From idea of that business we made, and there was ahead a descent to the camp, it appeared easy on our souls. We moved slowly. Jack Bakalejnikov strongly laged behind, he had a sore throat and complicated breath for some days. At such altitude it was fraught, but Jack kept the good fellow. We unload him on a maximum. In one hour we reached a flat stone with a cairn. We found a lot of traces of stay of human being there. Sergey Cherezov at once started reading Playboy. The others were engaged in photo- and video- shooting. We had one video- and four photo-cameras. Whose guys who was without any camera could admire the panorama. The weather was excellent. There was the cleanest sky and a full calm. All the same we were devilly luc
We considered a descent as a delicate business. On some places we had to fix the rope. Our co-ordination was rather bad, the collected weariness made itself felt, and by the way our backpacks appeared not easy too. At last, we reached an obelisk there we met alive people. We had noticed them from the top when they were ascending from Vazha Pshavel peak, going together. They were two climbers from St-Petersburg. They settled a tent under the obelisk and kindly treated us to hot tea. We wished them of good luck and continued demobilization. The ridge was in an excellent condition covered by firn. That fact made our descent easier, however when we were approaching to Vazha the weather sharply spoiled, a wind rose, and clouds covered the sky. It seemed the Big Mountain was tired to suffer from our presence. The visibility was narrowed up to a limit. On morning traces of climbers we met we somehow shuffled about up to Vazha.
We had to spend night right here. We settled the tent and we went to meet others detached from the group. It was getting dark. Search and rescue works in such conditions threatened to be prolonged for all night. To the big our relief we met the guys in two hundred meters from tent. It was good, that they managed to keep a stock of forces by the end of our ascent.ìì
We eight together got into one tent. The second tent "fell a precipice" in the morning. We took seats on our backpacks. One night it was possible to sleep in a sitting posture. We boiled tea and had a bite of dry food. There was almost no sweet left, we shared into all two snickers. In our thoughts we were already below. Despite of bending pose we managed to be had a sleep. The wind raging all the night long abated only to the morning. We got out of the tent in twilight. While we turned off our camp, it was already light.
On August 20 - our last day. The weather obviously started to deteriorate, the horizons were tightened. We descended by fast goods train, after us clouds fell and a small snow strewed. The mountain softly showed the door us. We could see points on the glacier. They were our meeting friends. We reached Wild col. It was warm there, it was possible to go in one sweatshirt. To descend the ice-fall we made steep rappel. The last meters of descent we slipped almost run, because of huge blocks of ice unpleasantly hanging above. That was All! There was equal ice under our foots, we took off crampons away! On a glacier the joyful meeting was waiting us with hot tea and tasty meal. We would be able to relax, take off boots, at last. Last push. To the base camp we approached in the darkness. The native joyful people met us there, and a celebratory supper smelt good on a table. Soft New Year's snow was covering Southern Enylchek glacier, the tents of the base camp, peaks of mountains. The cyclone was coming.
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