Peak Lenin 2012

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Peak Lenin (7134m) - Pamirs

I will be attempting Peak Lenin on the Kyrgyz/Tajik border in the weeks to come. Hopefully I will be able to update this page from time to time!

 

Sunday, July 29, 2012 - Base camp.

In the past days I've managed to reach the high camp at 6100m as part of my acclimatization process. Impressive mountain, and tougher than I thought it would be. I'm waiting for the weather to look its best and then I will be giving the summit a try, probably in the next 4-6 days. Take care and I'll update you after the next round on the mountain!

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Me and my shadow at camp 3, looking into lonely Tajikistan...

Peak Lenin - Summit - August 2, 2012

I had a wonderful and intense few days summiting Peak Lenin. After a few rest days in base camp, during which I fretted and wrung my hands in consideration of the weather forecasts I headed back to C1. There I bunked with a Ukrainian climber Ihor, with whom I had a long discussion about the weather. The forecast predicted very high winds on the 2nd of August, with colder temperatures, but lower wind and snow coming on the 3rd. Ihor's argument was that the wind chill would be the same both days, but fresh snow and cloud would happen on the 3rd, making the 2nd the better day. His argument won me over. Unfortunately that meant I would have to climb from camp 1 directly to camp 3 the next day. I left very early and arrived at camp 2 in the late morning. I had to take down my tent I had left there. Unfortunately someone had occupied my tent in my absence and spilled piles of goopy food all over the floor. I was fuming as I tried to scrape it off the inside of the tent. After reloading my pack (which was now pretty dang heavy) I set off in the blazing sun toward camp 3. It wound up being a pretty brutal slog and it took me quite some time to set up my tent in the wind once I reached camp 3 at 6100m. I was feeling fairly well acclimatized thankfully. I eventually went to sleep in an increasing wind, feeling very alone and far from home.

I had my alarm set for 4am and gradually got things rolling. My stove was running slowly and melting snow was taking forever. I definitely did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. It was freezing cold and the wind was pretty severe, causing lots of ice crystals to circulate inside the tent and down my collar. The thought of heading for the summit was quite horrible. I was feeling reluctant and nervous. Eventually I was ready to go. I was just finishing putting on my boots when a group of 4 Russians passed my tent. I noticed my movements sped up a bit. By the time I got moving they were well up the slope above me. The wind was intense. I had everything on and had battened down the hatches and was just warm enough. Within seconds I was wondering whether I would be able to get very far in the wind. I had honestly not been out in wind that strong before. I slowly made my way up the slope with my back to the wind tearing out of Tajikistan. As I climbed higher the sun rose above the bank of clouds below that I was continually looking out at, all the while being battered by the gale coming from behind. The roaring noise was incredible. It turned out there was a certain kind of magic happening. Suddenly there was the feeling of knowing why it is you do these things. At times I would get pushed around by the wind, and was almost knocked down once. I had to crouch down once in a while to keep my footing when the gusts would intensify. The wind and cold must have been causing me to climb quickly because after an hour or so I could see I was catching the Russian group. I passed them a short time later and continued up alone toward the top.

I noticed through the day that a party of two had also passed the Russians and seemed to be trying to catch me. That kept me moving fast. Eventually I found myself below the summit plateau, and not quite sure where the summit was. I waited for the two behind me to catch up and about 45 minutes later the three of us reached the summit. The two turned out to be Ihor and his Russian guide. We spent about 1 minute on the summit due to the feriocious wind. Three hours later I reached my tent and decided to spend the night there. The following day I descended all the way back to base camp - a bloody long way. I was very pleased with the result.

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Yours truly on the summit of Peak Lenin