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About Lenin peak 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rainer Fruhwirth   
Lenin Peak or this is not my mountain
Attempt to climb in summer 2012

Making plans
So, we decided to go to Elbrus – Elvira, me, and Elvira’s son. Though, it appeared that in 2011 Elbrus has been enormously popular, especially among climbers from Russia. We might uselessly wait for some time in Russia, or we might just return home. So, we decided to find another aim. And searches brought us to the |Lenin peak.  
I looked for all possible information I could find. We should have some idea of who is able to organize this trip. What technical difficulties we may face. How much time we will need and what kind of equipment will be necessary. I contacted the local company, via e-mail. The very next day I had an answer from Kyrgyzstan. With the whole trip logistics, including package of services; flight, hotels in the local cities, transport, an upscale guide, meals for the whole trip – absolutely everything was considered.
It was clear from the beginning that Elvira doesn’t intend to climb to the summit. But in order to reach at least one camp, we decided to buy two package of services – full package for me, and acclimatization in the base camp. All in all it appeared to be cheaper than the companies in Europe offered. All organization we decided to take in our hands. We did the correspondence through many months in English language. The company said that there is no direct flight from Vienna to Bishkek. That’s why we had to make a big way around; to use the Turkish Airlines, making change at Istanbul. Or via Aeroflot, making change in Moskow. Difference was only in price – tickets from Aeroflot were almost three times cheaper than ones from Turkish Airlines. Due to some reasons, as well as due to the difference in price, we didn’t regret our decision.
In the end the program looked as following: somewhere in Friday midnight we depart from Vienna to Moskow. We make change in Moskow and come to Bishkek on the middle of the day. We spend a night there and on the next day we depart to Osh, have a walk around the city, spend a night. On Sunday a car brings us to the base camp. Three weeks for climbing the mountain. Return to Osh, flight to Bishkek. Meals and alcohol drinks were included in the price. And we were had a strong wish for the program to go as we imagined.
Preparation.
As I already had an experience of climbing Kilimanjaro and Akonkagua, I could imagine what we may face. But for Elvira the highest mountain was Grosvenediger in the last yeart, which she climbed in order to prepare for ascend onto a high mountain. Despite she doesn’t plan to ascend to the summit, she needs to prepare to climb a real mountain. She needs equipment that isn’t necessary in the Alps; special shoes, clothes and a sleeping bag. Ad, at last, both of us had to prepare for climbing mentally and physically. We had to know if we were able to interact well enough to pass a glacier and to help each other to overcome a crack. We went to the country in autumn and spring, we went hiking with heavy rucksacks to get used to weight. We discussed the peculiarities of alpinism in high mountains and in the Alps. Especially – the risk of mountain disease and possibility to avoid it.
Elvira’s son, Julian, offered me to climb Grosglokne, after Grosvenediger. This trip we planned a week before departure to Kyrgyzstan. On one hand, in order to satisfy Julian’s wish, on the other hand, in order to get acclimatized at the height. We climbed the platforms – Shtudthutte (840 m) and Archduke Johann (1050 m). We got acclimatized on the height of the Lenin peak base camp (3600 m). This should have helped us against headache on the first few days. As we should spend one day in Osh, which is lower than the base camp at least for 800 m.
Weather forecast for the trip to Glokne has not been very good one. Bu during climbing the weather became better. In general, it was sunny almost all the time.
We met a mountain guide Ton, who suggested us to climb a summit in the afternoon. But it was enough for us. And we decided to postpone the ascent to the next morning.
Flight
Tired, we landed in Moscow in two days, in midnight. Shremetievo airport is described as modern one, but it can’t be compared with other largest airports of the world. It was unusual to wake up the customs official at the security control.
We departed to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, in three hours. Fortunately, this flight lasted five hours and we got an opportunity to sleep a bit. We were nervously waiting for landing at 15:00. what will we face? Will everything go as it was planned? The Visa-control became the first pleasant surprise; I suppose, this is the first country in the world, where customs official met me with a smile. Than we were suggested to get a group-Visa, as it was cheaper, that made me sympathize to this country for the first time. We were greeted at the customs with the words; “Welcome to Kyrgyzstan” and another smile. Customs control didn’t take a lot. A young lady was expecting us at the meeting area with a sign “Rainer and Elvira”. The lady greeted us on excellent English without accent.
Our driver, with a shining smile, claimed that he has everything in his car. We went to the city with a speed 150 km\h. A strange squeaking sounded from somewhere and the driver immediately lowered the speed. In some time I learned that the driver had a radar. We visited Top Asia office in Bishkek, where Alina, the director, met us. On the arrangement, we had to pay for the program. At first we were offered to have a walk around the city, but we refused, as we were very tired. We came to the hotel. This appeared to be a cozy small house, with rooms rather small for two people. But the rooms had everything we needed. There was even a TV-set. And a wonderful garden with a swimming-poll, which we immediately tried. Also we met two cyclers from Germany, who rode through the whole Central Asia on the bicycles. In the evening we went to German restaurant “Steinbräu” not far from the hotel.  

In the morning our guide came after us to bring us to the airport to depart to Osh – second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Mountain scenery to the ranges between Bishkek and Osh is very beautiful (mountains are about 5000 m. high, and can be seen on a horizon right from Bishkek).
Arrival to Osh appeared to be exiting. Everyone left the plane in one group. We found a nice young man who had to be our guide in Osh, but he couldn’t explain us where our luggage is. And all our equipment was there. So, we returned to the airport. No luggage. We went back again. There we saw a car with a pile of bags and everyone going there. So, we get right into the trailer and look for our bags. And, finally, after passing the customs control we return to our car. We came to our guest house. Its rooms also had everything necessary. Though, a swimming pool appeared to be a swimming pool for children with suspicious content. But, let’s forget about it.
Afterwards our guide shows us the sightseeings of Osh city. We see the famous Suleiman Throne – a small mountain in the city center. The legend tells that Suleiman lived there in a small cave. From the top all the surroundings can be seen and the mountain ranges. Then we go to bazaar. Guide tells us that he works as a teacher at local university and owns a place at bazaar. Apparently, he hires assistants for holidays. University salary can’t inspire. When we offer him to have a dinner with us, he brings us to a good café but explains that he can eat only in the evening because of Ramadan. He gives us an advice, where we can have lunch tomorrow. And says that next morning a car will come to bring us to the base camp. We return to the guest house afterwards.
We wait for transport after breakfast next morning. At first everything is quiet. Approximately at 11 o’clock a micro bus comes. We try to explain to the driver that we can’t fit into this car, because all seats are occupied and we also have a lot of luggage. We try to talk to our hostess. Unfortunately she can’t understand us well. As I could figure out, another car is to arrive in an hour. And, it comes in fact. There are also people inside, but two seats are still free. We go along with tourists from Russia, Belorussia and Sweden. Than it occurs that they want to buy something. After that we don not leave again, as one of them needs to buy solution for lenses. This is a big problem. Neither the first shop, nor fourth or fifth has the solution in store. It’s almost 14:00. As far as I know it takes 8 hours to get to the base camp. That means we aren’t coming there earlier that 10 o’clock in the night. Hmmm…
Fortunately it appeared that almost all road across two mountain passes on our way has been reconstructed. Except for a part 10 km. long. Thus, we come much faster before the nightfall, about 8 o’clock in the evening. The place is called Achyk-Tash (Edelweiss valley). Every company that organizes ascents to the mountain established a camp in there. Camps are scattered around the all area on a distance from each other. We come as the night guests, so we are the last to accommodate in the camp. Our host is very tired as it goes very late. But, all in all, this is not our fault. We learn that transport is the only regular problem in the whole trip. The matter is, as we were explained, that company doesn’t own transport in the South. Though is depends on number of people in group that comes here. Also there are many misunderstandings with the locals, and bad organization as a result.
On the mountain.
We are given a separate tent and we will get another one later. We are fully satisfied. However, we must pay for alcohol drinks, Koke and so on. Later we were introduced to the guide. Yaroslav is a young guy, about 25 years old and speaking very good English. He explains that tomorrow we get acclimatized, and the day after tomorrow we ascend to the next camp. The way won’t take much time and we will have another free day on a mountain. Well, why not. Though, I think we took the decision in a hurry and we should have spent another day in the base camp. Additional time on a height can make harm. In the  

morning we see our mountain for the first time. It’s 30 km. far. And its summit shines 3500 m. above us. For acclimatization we go to the Puteshestvennik pass (The Traveller pass). It is somewhere in the middle between the base camp and the camp on the height of 4200 m. first we pass the Meadow of Flowers and than – a meadow with huge number of marmots. The last part of the road, about 30 m. long, goes along the slope with talus. From there I and Yaroslav ascend a mountain that became my first at Pamir. Unfortunately it also became my last one. Elvira stayed behind, at the pass. Unfortunately I dropped my camera onto a stone and now it’s useless. My cameras often become victims of the mountain disease. And we fail to make pictures of everything we wanted.
The next morning was very important. Our luggage was put onto horses. The most necessary things we put into our rucksacks and we leave. The way to the pass is already familiar. From there we descend and come to the Lenin glacier. Yesterday Elvira didn’t go high enough and she doesn’t feel very good. 20 kilometers and 1000 m. of gained height can’t pass unnoticed. I discovered I drank too little water. Usually always check I drink about 3-4 liters in a day.
Today I neglected this rule. And only after I drank one liter I felt myself better. We continued our way by snow. We fought ourselves as we could to reach the camp. When we already were in the tent we were gladdened by supper.
The next day was decided to be a free day. In the morning the weather was bad, the northern slope of Lenin peak was right in front of us. And we saw that it was snowing there in the second part of the day. In the night we were awaken by a thundering noise of avalanche. It happened about 5 o’clock in the morning, on the height of 5000 m. Then I discovered that I have got a diarrhea. And there was no place I could go for a toilette. Soon came Yaroslav and said that because of the snowfall it’s not possible to continue the ascend today. It was snowing until the middle of the day. Than it stopped for a short time and started again. I had to go out, but it was snowing heavily outside. To carry over the diarrhea on the height isn’t an easy task. It weakens the body already debilitated more than usual. I try to drink as much boiled water as possible. Yaroslav is worried that we fall behind the schedule. But I tell him that we don’t intend to reach the summit at all hazards and he calms down. Not far from here there is another camp on the mountain Razdelnaya, 6100 m. I suggest to climb that peak instead. He replies, it’s not a problem.
It continues snowing through the whole night. We clean the tents from snow, so that not to be buried under it. In the morning we see the neighboring tent,that was unoccupied, torned under the snow weight. Also we see a huge avalanche on the northern slope, 2000 m. higher. The layer of snow might be of our growth. I started to worry. On that day we got acclimatized at last. And we had to climb to the height of 5000 m. Today, and tomorrow - to the camp on the height of 5300. There we spend a night.
We put on the climbing shoes, straps, pack our clothes, food and water into the rucksacks. And leave to the Lenin glacier. Some time we descended to the ice, and climbed as far as the ice’s surface allowed. When the slope became too steep, we took the crampons and ropes. It’s a wonderful weather today. The sun is shining brightly and no wind at all.
Dry air heats to 30 degrees. It feels like in hot sauna. Than we meet the first crack. We can only jump it over, no other ways.
We made a break on the height of 4800. Place was very beautiful but uncomfortable. From there almost all Lenin glacier could be seen. Fascinating view it was. We go back. By the evening it becomes cloudy again and starts snowing.  

Next morning I was awaken with a bright light in our tent. But a sight of the summit brought me back to Earth: two avalanches on the northern slope and broken trail. About five meters of the trail disappeared. I’m not going there! I discuss the situation with Elvira and she supports me. When Yaroslav came to tell we are leaving, I said we have to talk. We sit down and I explain him the situation. I’m really happy with what we achieved on the mountain. I was able to overcome the limit of my abilities. Avalanche will be a risk I can’t estimate and I would like not to run this risk if possible. Almost the same thing occurred in 1999 on this mountain. An accidental avalanche killed 42 people in the first camp. Yaroslav asks what we are going to do next. I answer that it would be splendid to stay in the first camp and go for one-day treks. It’s wonderful here but I don’t want to be buried under an avalanche, that’s why we decide to descent to the first camp. Yaroslav asks if I mind him to leave us from time to time. Of course, I don’t. He explains that there are many tourists this year and he can earn some more money helping them. “Without any problems”. In the next two days two big groups from Switzerland and Great Britain should arrive. They follow the same route. We can talk to them, explain our situation and reach our destination point. But I keep stick to my point of view.
We discussed some other routes for the next few days. We saw birds, butterflies, and flowers (blooming plants on the height of 4400 m. above the sea level!), picked beautiful stones. Elvira wanted to bring stones specially from Pamire to her son Julian. We also got rid of diarrhea. First – Elvira, and me - on the next day. Once, Yaroslav led us to the glacier for ice-climbing. He showed us the absolutely new method. At the end we climbed a short vertical slope. We went to the gorge, where melt water from glacier gathers and then flows down for 10 km. Amazing! Twice we went to the neighboring camp that had a satellite phone. I called home in there. It would be easier to do with my mobile phone, but who could know that there will be a network signal? Twice we used a luxury like hot shower.
A separate tent is put for shower, where one can boil water or ask for it at the kitchen. But you will get very little water. Less than 10 liters of hot water for two people to have a wash, and to wash clothes.
On the tenth day we decided to descend for 1500 meters. We talked with Yaroslav and he agreed. Also he promised to organize our depart from the base camp as we arrived there a day earlier.
We packed out luggage in the morning and left. Being tired, Elvira didn’t feel herself well. Especially, on the pass Puteshestvennik. From that place I noticed the talus coming to the very Lenin glacier and wondered how the Kyrgyz pass these places on a horseback. Anyway, we reached the base camp. There we met a group from Switzerland which also came down either because of the mountain decease, or because of the bad cold. And finally I can buy myself a beer!
Yaroslav came to us during the dinner and said we are leaving either this night or the next morning. We spent night in Osh and then depart to Bishkek, spend another night and go to Issykul for three days. This is the second largest mountainous lake in the world, after the Titikaka lake in the South America. This is a fantastic plan. Thanks to Yaroslav and Top Asia company. The only disadvantage is probable depart somewhere about midnight. Yaroslav promises to wake us up at half to twelve in the night. We go to sleep in our sleeping bags and try to fall asleep. At 10 o’clock Yaroslav came and said that we leave at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. And this is wonderful.
We started to pack things in the morning. We had to put on the top those we need in the city and to put those we used in the mountain to the bottom. Also we will travel by two different cars. So, we have to leave to Osh. We heartily thank for his efforts that is materially presented with tips.  

We return to civilization, to Osh by a familiar road. The previous guest house is occupied and we are brought to another one. An old woman meets us and offers tea with cakes and fruits. Than she goes to serve a table with her daughter-in-law. We get acquainted with grandpa and kids. With the help of Yaroslav we try to get tickets for tomorrow flight. And one girl among guests from Moscow, an interpreter, helps with understanding. Hosts laugh at question where the dinner will be and say that we will dine at 8 o’clock in the evening because of Ramadan. Meal is fantastic, we eat along with tourists from Russia and have laugh. We were given the hosts’ bedroom for overnight. All beds in the house are occupied and two young people are sleeping on the floor in the next room, someone took the bench and even space near TV-set is occupied. We have breakfast in the morning and get the promised tickets.
Having rest.
We departed from Osh as exiting as we arrived. No signs of registration, only the securities with significant looks are checking something. Elvira was stopped several times because of her bag. However, none were interested in its content but wanted to ask how we do like Kyrgyzstan. Everyone acts do friendly and hospitably. Than follows a short but impressive flight to Bishkek above the mountain ranges. This time we stay at another hotel. “Alpinist” is a good and cozy hotel, but not as wonderful as “Asia Mountains”.
The next part of our program with Issykul starts next morning from hotel „Asia Mountains“. In some places the road comes very close to border with Kazakhstan. Then we pass a steppe that gradually becomes more and more narrow and transforms into a gorge. Again we see that Kyrgyzstan is poor in forests. Probably, it’s because of dry climate. Otherwise the scenery would be different. Gorge becomes larger and goes into a valley and we almost came to the lake. It was the second popular place for rest after Crimea. It helped a lot to develop the infrastructure of the region. But now Kyrgyzstan needs help in modernizing the hotels to attract public from West to the lake. So, we accommodate in our rooms. The hotel is far from the lake. It was built during the Soviet times, from concrete slabs. But the rooms are big and have everything necessary for us, who just came from the mountains.
There are a lot of cottages around here. They are sold to families for private ownership. There is a restaurant, bar and game room in the hotel.
The lake itself looks like a fiord, framed with snow-white mountains on both sides. Water temperature is about 20 degrees and we go swimming twice a day. We feel excellent and return to normal after 14 days on the mountain in tents. We met two groups from Switzerland that had to descend from the mountains. The last day weather wasn’t very good one and I was afraid to chill my feet while walking. I didn’t reach the aim of my walk but anyway I had a good time.
Three days pass as one and we are back to Bishkek. Again “Asia Mountains” hotel. A walk around the city is planned for the next day. But it’s more a walk around its center. Bishkek doesn’t boast numerous monuments. As the traditional life-style of the Kyrgyz was nomadic one. And the first buildings appeared in the middle of 19th century. Most of representative buildings were created during the Soviet Union time. Guide showed us one interesting detail; Lenin statue pointing at American University with its hand.
Also we visited the Historical Museum, which expositions were dedicated to the Kyrgyz history from the ancient times till nowadays.
And again we see snow-white peaks on a horizon. We go to the shopping center after souvenirs. The last day we spend in a hotel, beside the swimming-pool. Than we fly to Vienna via Moscow. We didn\t meet any difficulties except that our luggage arrived a day later.  

Afterword
In any case Kyrgyzstan is worth to visit. We met nice people who did everything for our trip success. Fans of mountain sceneries will find something interesting for them, if they are ready to sacrifice the comfort. They will get all services in Africa and Europe but Kyrgyz people show just personal sympathy and heartiness for guests. It’s safe to travel. There are separations among the Kyrgyz and the Russians, the Northern and the Southern, that have more imprints of Islam. And Kyrgyzstan is comparatively cheap to travel for Europeans. I can say that Lenin peak is one of the easiest seven-thousand-high mountain to climb. It’s comfortable to come to the base camp and stay there, and spend only three weeks for ascend. But lack of conditions and regular avalanches are a big risk. In any case I wouldn’t agree to climb this mountain again. But price is worth staying at the base camp and other camps. Communication with climbers from other countries is a very interesting experience. Night talks and playing cards left positive imprint on us. the only minus is diarrhea. I suppose we didn’t boil the water good enough to kill all germs. One of Swiss guides told that the matter could be the bad-washed cutlery. Climbing a mountain next time we will use our own ones.