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The author: Michael Mihajlov, Bishkek

 

"6613". A virgin summit on Kurumdy peak

 

Mountains Kurumdy is situated to the east of Lenin peak and to the west of check point Erkishtam. Three States borders (China, Tadjikistan and Kyrghyzstan) converge on the next peak Zarya Vostoka (Dawn of the East)(6349), traverse ascended for the first time by a group of tourists (leader- Alexander Novik, Moscow) in the summer of 2000. There were some unsuccessful attempts to climb Kurumdy peak earlier, however all of them were failed.

For last three years a popularity of this area increased especially among Englishmen. In 90 year English expedition during 40 days tried to subdue the peak but unsuccessfully, the last year the Russian and Uzbek expeditions ended with the same result. And in the Soviet years, I think, this area was much less popular by comparison with such adjoining areas as Lenina Peak and Communism Peak. There are a lot of rumours that this area is very dangerous. But we personally did not meet any obstacles on the side of frontier guards. There were a lot of expeditions and trekking tours in those areas (Lenin, Kurumdy) all the summer long. Any there were not any menacing situations


Map of the area

 

Kurumdy Peak (6613 m), Pamiro-Alai range, Chon-Alaisky ridge. For a long time it drew attention of many climbers, towering above a valley a huge white massif. But all of the expeditions working in this area did not manage to summit the top. But after 2000 the mountain was really attacked. Two English, Polish and Czech teams couldn't catch a good fortune. The autumn in Bishkek is time when all our command gathers in city after a rough summer season. Alexander just arrived from "south" and brought news about failure of the last expedition on Kurumdy peak. They managed to ascend only up to the altitude of 6300 m. and he suggested to organize new expedition. Having a little conferred, we came to a conclusion, that the autumn is the most successful season because the previous expeditions complained of a plenty of a snow and strongly destroyed rocky breed on a summit ridge on which the most logical way to top passed. It is much less snow in the autumn and a rock is frozen. The one minus is low temperatures. Having prepared for two weeks we moved forward.

The ancient city of Osh met us with hospitality and abundance of fruit. As against in summer, the crowd on a market did not dazzle people with backpacks any more: the season on Pamir was finished. Without any adventures we got in the Base camp (3600 m) and settled a small, but cosy camp which included inhabited tents, kitchen, a dining room and, certainly a broadcasting center, whence we could to transfer and receive greetings from house.

Next day in two groups we went for investigation to define where the most logical route to the advanced base camp, which we planned to set directly under the ridge, passed.

Day appeared successful, we found a place for the camp, and moreover we climbed a mountain (4730). From here I took on video an excellent panorama of all Kurumdy massif and peak Zarya Vostoka. In the first climbing we settled ABC camp (3900 m). A snow -ice "knife" we climbed for a day and settled the Camp I (4900 m) at the basis of the destroyed rocky ridge. Next day we started to fixed the ropes on the basic, most complex part of the route. Rocky sites (4A - 4B) are strongly destroyed, sites of ice came across.

We meet traces of previous climbers (rope loops, bolts and other things). This day we fixed 300 m of the rope. Then we had a day of rest, the auxiliary group brought ropes. Next day we fixed 350 m of the rope more and settled the Camp II (5400 m). After a dinner the weather sharply worsened. All the night long it was snowing. It was windy in the morning, but the sky was clear.

We decided not to fix the rope further and to climb the ice-snow ridge with seldom rocks straight off without preliminary processing. We descended to the BC to have a rest. The route was fixed; condition of the participants was normal. There was only one open question: could the young climbers independently climb above camp 2 in winter conditions. We solved that the experience of high-altitude ascents was better to get in the summer and on more simple routes. Therefore the final push we were going to make four together, the other group leaded by Popov F.E. would leave together with an assault group in the Camp II for support.

On October 10 we left the Camp 2 (5400 m) in two two-men teams: Alexander - Oleg and Vitalik and I. The weather did not please to us. All the night it was snowing. And in the morning the situation did not change: visibility was no more 50m.

We removed one tent and took it for summit push and left the second for descent. The condition of snow was excellent - firn, but on abrupt sites it crumbled and opened ice. In places we met short hard-destroyed sites of rocks. The ridge practically everywhere breaks snow cornices on the East side. By five o'clock our altimeter showed the altitude of 6080 m.

A visibility hardly improved, and it became clear, that we climbed on the basic ridge leading to the top, there still left about 600 more meters on height, and it was not known, how many meters on distance left (from the base it was looked very far). We built a platform and we settled a tent. The amplified gusts of a wind cleaned the sky, and opened stars. We went to night with hope for good weather and a tomorrow's summit.

All the night long a wind stormed, driving fresh snow on slopes. Snow powder could percolate a fabric of our tent. And the effect was amazing - the tent inside did not strongly differ from the street. We made an attempt to leave on the final push, but the wind forced down a snow, and we couldn't see anything through a drifting snow. We crept back in the tent, we directed it in "order" and we waited, when the wind would calm down a little. Periodically we crept out to dig out the tent. So we stayed there all the day but in any way we still had one chance. If weather did not improve, we had to wait a day more. And in that case we would run of food and gas. We went to bed under a crash and slapping of the tent.

On October, 12 the Morning met us with all the same wind, but without gusts. It was a few drifting snow, but all the snow was blown off for the previous day. It gave us any hope. We quickly had breakfast, packed and left our "kennel". The wind was still strong but we could to move.

"After some more meters and in some minutes and we were going to reach the top We needed to take breath, evading from strong gusts of a wind. But no, there was not the top. We were mistaken. The ridge turned round sharply on the West, smoothly, with ascent. As the wind blew directly to face with sharp impulses it drove crusted snow. My heart was beating whether of sensation of the high altitude or of presentiment of affinity of a victory.

The summit ridge appeared rather short. And in 10 minutes at 1.43 I and Vitaliy Akimov summited the top. After a two-daily roar a silence suddenly came in ears. There was the blue-black sky without any cloud above and a tremendous panorama was around: Lenina peak, Communism peak -to the West and Korzheneva peak - to the southwest. On the east, right before us there towers peak Zarya Vostoka (Dawn of the East), and to the south - two Chinese giants Kongur-Tag and Mustag-Ata grew directly from fulvous desert. We took a photo and went in quest of the cairn (Had anybody been here before?). Our searches were unsuccessful. We built the cairn of rocky bars in twenty meters to the south and began descending quickly. Hardly below we met Alexander Gubarev and Oleg Turaev climbing upwards. Having taken a photo we wished them of good luck and we continued to descend up to the camp II (5400 m). After spending two nights at 6100 at a gale-force wind and in the ice covered tent we felt ourselves like in a resort here. We drank tea without any sweet left putting by our last package of soup for a tomorrow breakfast. It was going to be a heavy day of descent. And in the morning, having waited Alexander and Oleg, who spent the night at 6100, together with group of support we took off the ropes and descended to the ABC Camp..."

 

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