in the Osh oblast lies on the border with Tajikistan
– it rises to a height of 7134m and was the third highest
mountain in the former Soviet Union, shaped something like a
“high armchair”. The outline, however, is not
always obvious because the summit is almost always covered in cloud
– and it is necessary to look at it over a period of time to
make out the profile.
peak takes the form of a pyramid with a large base with the northern
slope being very steep compared to the others.
It was “discovered” and mapped by the
famous Russian explorer of Central Asia A. P. Fedchanko, on his journey
to the northern Pamirs in 1871. He was the first person to provide a
reliable account of the geography of the Pamir Mountains. For
a time it was called Peak Kaufman after a Russian Governor General and
it was later renamed in honour of the Soviet leader. Although
it is still universally known as Peak Lenin, it has now been officially
renamed Kuh-i-Gamo, (“Warm Mountain”).
The first expedition to the slopes of the mountain took place during
the expedition in 1929. Only two people reached the glacier but they
realized that it could be the ideal base to start the climb up the
highest mountain in the Zaalaiskii range.
Five years later there was a second expedition by
“professional” mountaineers from the Soviet Red
Army. It took them two attempts to reach the summit and erect a statue
of Lenin - the highest in the world, with a spectacular backdrop of
high, snow covered, peaks and ridges. They also left a note
saying that the first ascent from the North face was accomplished by
three participants of the expedition on 8th September 1934.
For some time after this there were only a relatively few attempted
ascents. Perhaps, the most significant was in 1967 – in an
expedition involving 301 people and dedicated to the 50th anniversary
of the Soviet Union. Sixty of the mountaineers were representatives of
foreign countries and there were 20 women amongst them. As a result of
the expedition, four new routes were discovered – the most
difficult one, on the Southeast face. There are now, apparently, some
16 routes to the summit.
The mountain now has a reputation as a high altitude
“walk-up” (easy climb) and so is popular with
climbers – it is one of the most climbed 7000m mountains in
Although many mountaineers gain high altitude experience here
– dozens of experienced climbers have also died on the
mountain, especially as the result of extreme and unpredictable
weather. In particular, it was the scene of two major mountaineering
tragedies. In 1974 an eight-woman team was caught by a storm and
wanting to show that an all woman team could succeed they decided not
to descend but to wait out the storm. Unfortunately, after their tents
had been shredded by the wind, they perished one by one – the
last maintaining radio contact with the outside world until the very
end. Then in 1991 an earthquake triggered an icefall which trapped 44
climbers in the camp below. Only one survived, another body was found
– but no other remains of the remaining 42 have ever been
discovered. It is said to be the world’s worst ever
The mountain holds the secrets of many such tragedies, which it
sometimes reveals in poignant ways. In 2003, a party of
climbers found some human bones, some clothing and a knapsack
– just a few meters off one of the main paths.
The main base camp is known as Achik Tash. Nearby is Lukovaya Polyana
(“Wild Onion Field”), the last greenery before the
stony moraines of the mountain slopes.