For a long time Khan Tengri was thought to be the highest summit in the Tien Shan.
In 1936 the members of an expedition to Khan Tengri saw an unknown peak which towered above the surrounding ridges. Surprising though it was, the peak seemed much higher than Khan Tengri. They failed to find the peak on any map.How were people to get to it? It was not until 1943 that the mystery was solved.Like hunters trapping a wild beast topographers gradually surrounded the mountain.
At last, through the efforts of scientists, topographers and mountaineers, the new peak was located and its size measured. It was 24,571 feet high, that is 1,600 feet higher than Khan Tengri, and the second highest mountain in the U.S.S.R. They called it Pobeda Peak.Who would have thought then that it would take thirteen years to conquer this giant?
Among the climbers who attempted to reach Pobeda Peak was Ural Usenov, whose ambition was to conquer the mountain. Hetook part in all the expeditions to the summit. Many climbers gave up after the first failure, but not he. He was the only one to survive the disaster of 1955 when eleven climbers caughi in a blizzard were buried alive under the snow in their ient. Suffering from lack of oxygen they cut open their tent in despair and were seen no more. Usenov was found hafl-frozen in a deep water-hole where he had fallen wandering in the blizzard. This, however, did not stop him from joining a new expedition to Pobeda Peak the following year.
The expedition of 1956, headed by a most experienced mountaineer, Vitali Abalakhov, numbered eleven climbers.
Abalakhov remembered the lesson of the previous expedition: he persuaded his companions to build caves instead of tents a!l the way up (o the summit.
After two months of long and weary climbing they reached the height of 22,150 feet above sea level, where they built a really strong cave—a perfect shelter. It was not long before they had the opportunity of testing it.
At 23,000 feet they set about to build their last camp when suddenly the order was given to go down. Down! After all their efforts?! Without a word Abalakhov pointed to the threatening clouds advancing rapidly from the west.
No sooner had they reached the cave below than the storm broke out. Another 15 minutes and it would have been too late; the storm would have swept them away.
When it cleared they set off again, tightly roped to one another. For hours they continued their way up overcoming high ridges and deep precipices. With every foot up the air became thinner and thinner. The lack of oxygen was a great strain on their lungs. Another effort and all eleven stood on the summit.The victory was won not by one or two “stars” with the assistance of hundreds of porters and a dozen guides, but by a team of eleven. At that moment of heir triumph they could not help thinking of those who had failed the year before. It was their experience that made the success of this expedition possible.
Posted in Stories