I’ve never had the feeling of being an intense community focused person. I would say that I have just enough friends, I care for my family and in ‘ordinary’ life I put my head down and I work hard. For me the mountains give a radical escape from everything that we consider normal. It offers a change in perspective, a passionate outlet, it humbles me and offers immense solitude in return.
It has been a long, very long day. We have been climbing for over 14 hours and are halfway during the descend from the summit of Khan Tengri to Camp 3. I’m worried about Gijs. His crampon broke during the ascent and now he struggles to keep up. When he joins me, he lays down and doesn’t say a word. He looks exhausted and I’m thinking that he might show some early signs of altitude sickness. I urge him to drink something. Then I ask him some questions and follow his movements to satisfy myself that he is completely ok, before I continue my descend.
I love ski-mountaineering and on my trips to the mountains, I’m always considering the possibility of the mountain being ‘skiable’, and so I try to incorporate skis whenever possible. Our expedition to Tien Shan mountain range was different. While Khan Tengri has a rocky ridge from Camp 3 towards the summit. Pik Pobeda is very steep, icy and has a snowy ridge beyond Camp 2 all the way to Camp 5. The summit ridge which starts in Camp 5 is more or less flat and about four kilometers long - all above 7.000 meters.
I lost almost fifteen pounds during our Lenin expedition. Allert was even worse, he looked like he didn’t have a proper meal in months. When we got home, for some of us it took a full week before our bowel movement got its shit together. So I think it’s safe to say that, in our preparation towards this expedition, we took some valuable Lenin-food-lessons with us.
During the night I wake up several times. I hear the roaring sound of avalanches and rocks coming down from the north face of Peak Pobeda (7.439m). Did we pitch our tent too close? Was this a bad idea? What the heck are we doing here?
Choosing the right gear is more than having just a 'good' jacket. It's about quality, weight, warmth, breathability, personal preference and how everything falls together into place. You need think about your layering system, what do you like and what works? Choose your socks, choose your fabrics, choose your snacks, choose foods and of course, keep all of that as light as possible! As a team we are really happy to have great partners to help us make the right choices. In return we kick their products asses to see if it works!
Headache, lack of appetite, low energy and bad sleeping... If you’ve ever been high in the mountains, you know that acclimatization is not really fun.
This is our third night in C3 (5.800m), we’ve been waiting for a good weather window. Yesterday about 20cm of fresh snow covered our camp. At the same there’s no wind predicted. So, we know tomorrow is going to be tough, but we’ve decided to go for the summit. It’s in the middle of the night when we leave camp.
Since, we have no mountains around the corner to acclimatize, we are this year experimenting with hypoxic pre-conditioning. Basically oxygen deprivation at home to let our bodies already partly adjust to the altitude.
As our departure day grows closer, it's time to introduce our main objectives. Last year we climbed Peak Lenin (7.134m). With this year's expedition we are moving some 700 kilometres away from the Trans-Alay range of the northern Pamir Mountain System. This leads us to the Tian Shan Mountains which are located on the Kyrgyz-Chinese border.
One of our objectives is the mountain Khan Tengri. A peak laying on the tripoint of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful peaks in the world thanks to its symmetry and geometric ridges.
There is a controversy on the peak heigths. The geological elevation is 6.995 meters whereas its height with glacial cap is around 7.010 meters. Due to this fact, Khan Tengri is counted as one of the Snow Leopard 7000+ peaks.
It is the second highest mountain of the range Tien Shan. However, due to its shape and prominence above the valley, it was considered to be highest one for centuries until 1943 when Jengish Chokusu (Pobeda Peak) was declared to be higher.
Khan Tengri is usually climbed from one of two camps located on either side of the mountain. One base camp is located on southern branch of Inylchek glacier in Kyrgyzstan, the second camp on Northern Inylchek Glacier. Both base camps are usually served by helicopter flights from Kazak/Kyrgyz border further north. As we are also aiming to climb to Jengish Chokusu (Peak Pobeda) which is served from the same base camp on Southern Inylchek Glacier, we decided to take the heli ride there.
We will to try to progress on mountain via Southern classical Pogrebetsky route (West Ridge - red route in the picture), which is classified as 5a in Russian grade. It has more objective dangers than the classical route from the north, this is something we have to deal with and be smart in our timing. The route reaches the col in 5800m where it joins the route from north and continues via West Ridge to the summit.
The route has several camps, the first is located in distance just 300m above base camp in 4.300m altitude. We will use it as our Advanced Base Camp supplied with all equipment and enough supplies. The further progress on the mountain is done via complexicefall on the way to camp 2 in 5.300m, which is in a relative safe zone. Camp 3 is further up on the col on the West Ridge in 5800 m where overnight is often done inside the ice caves. This is already a freezing place with temperatures between -20c and -30c.
The final summitpush on the mountain is directly from Camp 3. It is long and strenuous climb via Western ridge that requires 10-15 hours of climbing with 100% concentration. At around 6.500m we will enter the summit coulouir which brings steep ice and snow sections of 60° technical mixed climbing.
Stay tuned for more info on Jengish Chokusu (Peak Pobeda, 7.439m)!
With pride we present our latest sponsor: Mountain Equipment. We've been wearing ME for a while now. It goes without saying that their products are up there with the highest standards in outdoor clothing. ME products has kept us warm above 7.000m and dry during spindrift conditions in the Alps.
"It’s not our job to try to tell people why they go to the wild places and mountains. It’s our job to make the very best gear in the world. Since Mountain Equipment began in 1961 we have participated in countless ascents of the world’s highest peaks, supported climbers establishing ever more adventurous routes and equipped world record setting trips to the North and South Poles. We have been making gear for the most inhospitable places on the planet for over 50 years. You learn a lot here. And all we have learned, lives in our gear."
For our expeditions we use a wide range of gear. Check out their website and/or click on the images below!
Climbing big mountains is one thing, but doing it safely with your team is another. How do we prepare to climb safely during our 2017 expedition?
Asolo has been a great partner during the 2016 expedition and we are excited to announce that we will partner up again for
the 2017 expedition!
After the succesful 2016 expedition to Peak Lenin (7.134m), Project 5 Peaks is back at it again! In the summer of 2017 the team will attempt to climb Peak Pobeda (7.439m) and / or Khan Tengri (7.010m)!