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Kazakh alpinists started a new attempt to ascent K2

17 june 2011, 13:36
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The route to the top of K-2 on its Northern spine (L). Maksut Zhumayev on Alpingrad (R). Photo courtesy of kazpatriot.kz
The route to the top of K-2 on its Northern spine (L). Maksut Zhumayev on Alpingrad (R). Photo courtesy of kazpatriot.kz
International expedition to Chogori, or Mount K2, started in Kyrgyzstan on June 16. The expedition is headed by Kazakhstan alpinist Maksut Zhumayev and his partner Vassiliy Pivtsov. The team arrived to Kyrgyzstan where they met other participants and purchased food and equipment required for climbing.

“Ralf and Gerlinda from Austria and videographer Darek from Poland arrived today. Then we were solving a big problem that Vassiliy and I had. The thing is that we could not manage to get Chinese visas in Almaty because of some kind of problems in the embassy, but we could get them in Bishkek with some complications,” Zhumayev said.

After solving all organizational issues the expedition set off for the Chinese border that is 600 km from Bishkek. “Today we are planning to stay in Tash-rabat village, which is a historical and cultural place. We will live in yurts (nomads' traditional round tentlike house) on felt pads. Tomorrow morning we will try to reach Turugart mountain pass, where we will cross the Chinese border,” Kazakhstan mountain-climber said.

The expedition will stay in Chinese Kashgara for two daysto prepare all required goods. There the group will be joined by Chinese experts who will be working in the base camp.

"The expedition is gradually picking up. Only 3 climbers out of 5 expected arrived in Bishkek. Tommi from Argentina has already arrived to Kashgar from Pakistan two days earlier. Sher who was suppose to come from America could not sort out the problems with visa and will not take part in the ascent to the mount K2,” the climber said. According to Zhumayev, absence of the American climber will not have a negative impact on the whole team.

The team's goal is to climb the most Northern 8,000m mountain in the world. Its height is 8,611 meters above sea level. Chogori is located in Karakorum mountain system in Kashmir province (on Pakistan-controlled territories at the border with China).

“Every mountain has its own personality. For example, K2 is called a killer-mountain, but it is not a killer for us. It is not even an examiner who will yet again test us. For us it is a place where you walk with your friend and realize that a person will not sacrifice himself for saving you in normal life. This is not a place where you find yourself after passing the tests, we just live on this mountain,” Zhumayev said.

Maksut Zhumayev has already climbed 13 out of 14 world's 8,000m mountains. This is the 6th attempt of Kazakhstan alpinist Maksut Zhumayev to climb K2. His previous attempt was last year. But he believes he has just lost a battle, not the war.

“Me and my friend Vassiliy Pivtsov are planning to climb the world's second highest mount K2. This is the sixth attempt for me and the seventh for him. We want to complete our own program All 14 8,000m mountains of the world, that is why climbing K2 became traditional for us in the last 3-4 years. This time we will try to climb it from the Northern side,” the alpinist said.

Alipinism became a lifestyle for Zhumatov, a task he set for himself 14 years ago that needs to be completed. For example, in 2000 he climbed Shishapangma (8,008 meters). Zhumayev was the first climber of the third category in the history of alpinism without any experience of climbing 6,000 or 7,000 m mountains who climbed 8,000m mountain without oxygen. “I could hardly feel anything back then because of the emotions that were overwhelming me, some kind of panic, because I was very lucky to get into that expedition that year. But I managed to mobilize everything I could and do whatever I had to do,” Zhumayev shared.

Shishapangma is the smallest 8-thousander mount in the world but not the easiest one. It is a cunning mount with very long passes between the camps and a dangerous last route to the top. “A lot of unclear for me on that mount, as I did not have any experience on 6,000 or 7,000 m mountains. I knew that a person has his own height limit but I never knew how one behaves when the critical point is reached. The main thing is that this expedition was a start for me. After the climbing I was accepted into Kazakhstan national alpinism team,” he added.

As per Zhumayev, there is no time to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of the mountains when climbing. “You feel yourself absolutely miserable when standing far from it so that you can see its size. But when you start climbing it, you don't see those huge rocks and slopes hanging over you. You just see your feet and clearly realize that your life depends on the next step. Every step needs to be planned and controlled. So, step by step, with lots of patience, you come closer to your goal - the mountain top,” the mountain-climber said.

Being home, Zhumayev dreams of the mountains, while in the mountains he dreams of home. Both of these components allow him to feel completeness and harmony in this world. “For me the mountain is not just a landscape, mountainous, snowy or airy. For me it's the element of my life. One cannot oppose himself to the mountain, conquer or defeat it. Maybe someone can afford this, but not me,” he added.

Zhumayev is fond of video filming during his climbs, but he calls it just a hobby. “Currently we are planning to shoot a full-length movie called Flag on the Top. This is a very serious and ambitious project which will show not only heroism or bravery of humans, but will also uncover the depth of human relations that is revealed in the mountains.”

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