Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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The biography of Khan–Tengri

by V. Biryukov / E. Kolokolnikov

In the Central Tien-Shan situated a wonderfully beautiful pyramid covered by a snowy-iced veil. That is Khan-Tengri (6995 m; by the translation from Mongolian - "Imperator of the Heaven")

The description of mountainous land made by P.P.Semyonov - Tien-Shanskiy attracted compatriots' attention & attention of many foreign explorers & mountaineers to it. Expeditions to Central Tien-Shan had begun in 1864 - N.A. Severtsov, in 1869 - A.V. Kaulbars, in 1876 - A.N. Kuropatkin, in 1886 - A.N. Krasnov & I.V. Ignatyev, in 1889 - Hungarian zoologists Borgeze & G. Brokherel, in 1902-1904 - botanist from Tomsk University V.V. Sapojnikov, in 1912 - Russian topographers. In the beginning of XX century German scientists G. Meltzbakher & M. Phridrikhsen have also explored the Central Tien-Shan.

In 1900 Italian geographer & mountaineer Ch. Borgeze has tried to ascend on Khan-Tengri, taking with himself an alpine guide - M. Tzurbriggen. The expedition could not go further the mountain-pass.

Not little role in exploring the Tien-Shan has played the German geographer & mountaineer G. Mertzbakher. His first attempt to approach to Khan-Tengri was made in 1902. Together with the guides, Mertzbakher climbed until the summits of 5500 m, but could not find a way to Khan-Tengri's foot. The next year Mertzbakher was on Tien-Shan again.

Further efforts he directed on passing the south branch of Inylchek glacier. Soon after, he saw a monumental pyramid - Khan-Tengri - from the foot until the apex. In his opinion, Khan-Tengri looked so frightening that there were no little hope to subjugate it. That time Mertzbakher wrote in his daily: "Tien-Shan is not a place for... mountaineers' animations".

The schemes of the district made by Mertzbakher's expedition & topographical maps drawn up by Russian topographers on the base of surveys made in 1912, for a long time were the only documents of Central Tien-Shan. The point of Khan-Tengri's situation remained conventional on them.

A systematic exploration of the Central Tien-Shan began in 1929 by holding of complex expeditions, the initiator of which has become an indefatigable traveler & mountaineer M.T. Pogrebetskiy. By that time an idea of Pogrebetskiy to subjugate the Khan-Tengri has grown strong. Exactly such an aim has been set to his expedition of 1931.

At midday of the 11-th of September 1931 Mikhail Pogrebetskiy, Boris Tyurin & Frantz Zauberer were standing on the apex of Khan-Tengri. We, with the full right, can call that ascent a feat.

The second ascent on Khan-Tengri in which the author of these lines had taken part took place in 1936.

The joy of the victory was great. I, topographer by specialization, would like to look round Tien-Shan from the height of Khan-Tengri, to observe the situation of its mountain ranges, glaciers, canyons, rivers, but, unfortunately, because of bad weather I couldn't do that.

Shortly after by our trace another group of mountaineers set off for storm of Khan-Tengri. They were led by E.M. Abalakov - the first subjugator of Communism Peak. The group consisted of V.Abalakov - subjugator of the peak of Lenin, L. Saladin, M. Dadiomov & L. Guttmann. The traveling companions of E. Abalakov distinguished by physical & sportal preparation knew mountains better than we do.

Luck accompanied five of the climbers until the apex. They have reached it even earlier, than they have planned.

The descent by powdered by snow rocks turned out to be difficult. The consequences of their storm turned out to be tragic. In consequence of frostbite one of the participants has died from gangrene, two other members got serious traumas.

During next 18 years since that triple victory, no one has climbed to Khan-Tengri.

In 1964, the first storm of Khan-Tengri by a new more complicated way has been undertaken. That time mountaineers from Moscow, led by. Romanov, had undertaken a storm of the apex from South Inylchek glacier by a steep south edge (it got a name - Marble edge). Their compatriots, led by K. Kuzmin, were the first who planned the ascent from North Inylchek glacier. Both teams have successfully passed their routes.

In 1968 was the first woman-mountaineer - L. Romanova. In 1968 Kazakh spartak-players, led by B. Studenin & Yu. Golodov won a victory over Khan-Tengri.

Among many storms, made during these years, we should firstly mark the passing of South wall (1974) & two traces (1971 & 1974). In the trace of 1971, climbers from Kirghizia headed by V. Kochetov have distinguished themselves. They have passed trace of Middle range from Gorky's peak to Khan-Tengri.

Our climbers to Khan-Tengri have attempted remarkable achievements.

In 1975, it was 75 years since the day of the first attempt to ascend on Khan-Tengri.

In 1980 on the apex of Khan-Tengri peak Kirghizian team of mountaineers headed by V. Biryukov have set a land-survey station - duralumin pyramid with height of 1,5 m & by surveyors-topographers an exact height of Khan-Tengri of 6995 m has been defined. Placing of the pyramid on such a height - is not an easy deal, but that is another talk. The pyramid stands there nowadays.

Now the way to the apex's foot has been simplified & takes only 1-2 days. One day by car from Kirghiz station (Bishkek) to Karakol, 4 hours from Karakol to mountain passing base Mayda-Adir in the Inylchek River's valley & 30-40 minutes of flight by helicopter to Inylchek glacier to the Khan-Tengri's foot, where comfortable base camps are organized. However, the way to the apex as before lies by steep iced & rocked slopes. And the apex subjugates to brave, strong, & persistent mountaineers.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan #3

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