The highest peaks of Tien-Shan are Pobeda Peak (7439 m) and a legendary Khan Tengri (7010 m). The latter wears the title of the north most seven thousander in the world. And it is the title - the greatness of this giant that turns a formal geographical definition into fanfare. The Khan Tengri peak climbing is considered to be an extreme tourism. All the routes are different (there are more than 10 routes): rocky, snowy and icy, combined. Every year bravehearts storm the Central Tien-Shan in search of fame of Khan Tengri conquerors and even though not everyone returns back with victory one thing is for sure - every participant takes home a piece of height with him.
The Central Tien Shan as a sleeping dragon is located at the interface of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China boarders. The latter gave this dragon the great name of “Sky mountains” (Tien Shan, Chinese). They extend from the West to the East for 2500 kilometers and are filled with lots of beautiful places suit any taste - with a though unique beauty and unyielding challenging landscapes.
This is a special excitement to have a chance to overcome not only yourself but go beyond human abilities and get to the places where only the most brave and bold people could get.
The Central Tien Shan - well deserved “veteran” of the world alpinism. Its landscape belongs to the Alpine type: sharp “dragon” knaps, grey and turquoise severe gletchers and sharply white snow patches, alpine meadows with variety of colors and awash with flowers and typical for Tien Shan coniferous forests.
Khan Tengri is not only “the North most” peak it is also famous for its form of tetrahedron pyramid one side of which is a perfect wall of pink marble.
We first heard of this giant mountain in Chinese chronicles 1200 years ago. And a written description of a beauty of this peak may be found in records of Semyonov Tein Shansky a famous traveler and explorer of “unknown lands” who observed it from the upper river of Karkara.
Almaty – the South capital of Kazakhstan and the nearest megacity where you can start your journey to the famous top (from its North-West part). You can easily find in the city itself (and in the internet first) travel agents who would offer as an affective experience a trip to Khan Tengri.
And don’t think that it’s easy – seven thousander is severe and demanding to those who want to observe its saint peak (saint in the truest sense of the word – as in former times Khan Tengri considered to be a holy mountain for confessing Tengriism turkomen ) that is why one needs a good physical training and climbing experience in order to gain the very top.
The way to the top runs through big glaciers – North Inylchek glacier and South Inylchek (it is located in Kyrgyzstan). The North side of Khan Tengri peak goes below to North Inylchek and mostly has no glaciations because the slope is too steep.
The way to the glacier up to the midsummer is spanned by Mertsbaher glacier lake (3400 m) that usually goes dry in august.
Groups of alpinists from Kazakhstan, Russia, England, France, Turkey, Spain and other countries get together to climb Khan Tengri peak. The beauty and splendor attracts people from all over the world. And it is not always total success that matters. Even those who in transitional mountaineering camps decide to “fall out of the distance” - got more than they expected on their way to the “Prince of Spirits”.
They got to know cold and sublime beauty of the real mountain giant, saw the serenity that is peculiar to such height and also became one friendly team with people from different countries that they otherwise might have never seen.
Psychologists confirm that people who go through difficulties and extreme circumstances become good and steady friends.
There are a lot of mountaineering camps at the peak’s foothill where most tourists can get by helicopter.
“Khan Tengri” - an International Mountaineering camp is also located at the peak’s foothill. It accepts alpinists and tourists. International festivals usually take place at the premises of the IMC and under a patronage of mountaineering club and regional administration.
The climbing itself is possible only in groups as individual climbing to such severe mountain is not very reasonable. Alpinists need not less than 14 days to conquer the mountain and about 20 days if taking into consideration the fact that they need a period of preliminary acclimatization. The thing is that many alpinists just before Khan Tengti climbing need to climb one of the neighbor mountains such as Karlytau peak (5450 m), Bayankol (5791 m) Kazakhstan peak (5761 m) . That helps to acclimate to Tien Shan and get ready to the victory.
Michail Pogrebetcky, Boris Turin and Franz Zauberer were the first Tien Shan conquerors, they climbed the South side of the great pyramid in 1931. Nowadays this route is considered to be the classical, but “the North route” followers (those who prefer climbing from the north side) remind that from the year 1931 more than 30 people died on this avalanche south slope.
The north route has meaningful advantages: a good line of sight for radio contact, avalanche protection.
Climbing takes place nonstop, but there are still the most suitable periods for climbing. Optimal period for Khan Tengri climbing in 2014, taking into account the condition of the before mentioned glacier lake, is considered to be summer, from the middle of July up to the end of August.