Mountaineering of Kazakhstan: a starting point to the world fame

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Residents of Alma -Ata take a permanent view of snow-covered peaks outside their windows for granted. Mountains as mountains. But newcomers admire Alma-Ata landscape, especially those, who understand at least something in mountaineering.

"You are sitting on the gold!" - So Sherpa Norgay Tenzing, with his usual temperament,spoke ofthe Ile Alatau; he isone of the first conquerors of Everest (8848 m). What made patriot of Himalayan Mountainsadmire mountains that are far away from famous eight-thousanders? Experienced look of climber covered all the benefits of the mountain system at once: diversity of terrain,easy access, proximity to Alma- Ata, many interesting peaks and routes are concentrated in one place and their beauty.

The main height of mountain ridge is Talgar Peak (4973 m); it is clearly visible from the southern capital of Kazakhstan. If you get to Talgar Peak in a fair weather you can see the highest mountains of the Central Tien Shan, headed by giant pyramid Khan Tengri (6997 m) - the main peak of the republic. Thus, almost the whole arena can be seen from one point; herepre-war Kazakhstan mountaineering developed, grew and gained experience. Together with the mass sport(result of which were the annual alpiniads to the Alma-Ata tops),elite “high-altitude mountaineering" began to grow rapidly in Kazakhstan.

The starting point was 1935, when a group of "Dynamo" people (“Dynamo”was the sports community that unified employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs inUSSR) conducted an exploration of approaches and climbing routes to the highest peak of the country- Khan Tengri, which is located on the border with Kyrgyzstan.

... Khan Tengri area looked likea big white spot on maps, and peak itself was just an altitude chartand still considered the greatest peak in the Tien Shan Mountains (time of Victory peak had not come yet). The only expedition that had already conquered the giant marble pyramid was a group of Ukrainian climbers led by the famous climber Pogrebetsky M.T. in 1931. After that, nobody disturbed menacing peace of the "Lord of Heaven" for five years

Kazakhstan expedition, which included climbers Maslennikov,Protsenko, Bekmetov, Gangayev, Rakhimov, Salanov, Kamolov,Kuznetsov,Tyutyunnikov, Kibardin and the leader YevgeniyKolokolnikov, left Alma-Ata in order to try to reconquer the peakon July 25, 1936.

Back then any trip even a tourist one started right after the threshold of thehouse;and the way to the location where climbingto the peak actually began (modern climbers use helicopter, so it takes just a few hours to get there) took weeks and was slightly easier than climb itself. And communication with the outside world stopped immediately,the radio came later to the mountaineering. But a mandatory element of theoutfit forthose who went to Central Tien Shan, was the personal weapon, because a meeting with armed smugglers, wading through secret paths from Xinjiang, was quite real.

Although,there were enough difficulties and risks, white spots never painted themselves. Expedition had enough of mountain sickness, breaking even the strongest,tremendous temperature drops, horses falling into a chasm and falls of the participants. But they overcame Khan Tengri.

Just three people: Kolokolnikov, Tyutyunnikov and Kibardinascended to the peak (6997 m). It happened on August 24 at 2pm. From there, they tried to give a signal of their victory using smoke bombs, but the bad weather did not allow doing this. And the hardest part was waiting on the descent, when Khan Tengriwas already conquered, no strength left, and a long, exhausting way down through the deep snow lied ahead.

Exhausted by mountain sickness Kibardin lost faith in return home and began busily consider himself a liabilityfor his comrades. Sohe slipped on the iceand pulled Kolokolnikov off, he was next to him. Fortunately, their third companion had miraculously managed to gain a foothold and prevented a catastrophe.

When strength left them completely, they saw their comrades – Rakhimov, Kamolov and Protsenkofighting through waist-deep snow. Five long days they were waiting for return of the team in a tiny, draughty by winds tent at altitude 6000 meters. None of them thought about the descent. They knew that the departed to the top rely on them...

Victory over Khan Tengri raised Kazakhstan mountaineering to a new level; people learned and started talking about it.

“Ascent of Kolokolnikov’sgroup was the first major ascent of young climbers. Members of the group had little experience, organization of ascent was insufficiently considered. Worsening of weather conditions during the descent could lead to disaster. But along with this, ascent gave a lot of valuableknowledge for the further improvement of Soviet high-altitude tactic” - so was written later in the book, devoted to the 25th anniversary of the Soviet mountaineering.

Members of the expedition of 1937: I.Tyutyunnikov, A.Bekmetovand K.Protsenko, using the experience of Khan Tengri, made the first ascent to the neighboring peak Chapaev, without many difficulties. They "opened" this peak (6371 meters) of the Central Tien Shan.

... Alpine sports in the country rose on a qualitatively new level after the organization of alpcamps and schools, preparing qualified instructors, in 1935. Among the first of graduates were D.Tuganbaev, I.Tyutyunnikov, T.Rossova, P.Popkov, A.Bekmetov, B.Marechek and others. And two years later Central Asian instructors’ school opened in a beautiful gorge of Left Talgar. It was led by A. Aristov,one of peaks of Alatau is named after him. Four climbing camps, which operated in the prewar years near Alma -Ata, very quickly gained popularity among climbers of The Soviet Union.

…Modern Kazakhstan climbers consider themselves heirs of those who paved the mountain trails in the 30s; they managed to climb not only on all eight-thousandersof the planet, but also enter into the world elite of this unique sport.

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