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Asia, USSR, Pik Kommunizma, Pamirs

Pik Kommunizma, Pamirs. With successes on the 7000-meter peaks in the Pamirs now becoming commonplace, I have only two reasons to report our experiences. The first is to emphasize how accommodating the Soviets have been in assisting foreign mountaineers. For example, we had helicopter drops of food and gear at two high locations on Pik Kommunizma. The second is to point out that one has plenty of company on the peaks: about 350 climbers from 19 nations in three different Base Camps. According to our Soviet hosts this year had the worst weather since 1968. Nevertheless, from our Base Camp, 43 out of 80 climbers achieved the summit of Pik Kommunizma. There was one fatality, a Colorado man from high-altitude pulmonary edema. Our party consisted of John Ellsworth, Terry Moore, Mike Renta and me. Arriving at the main Base Camp of Achik-Tash at 3750 meters, we did an afternoon climb of Pik Petrovsky (4820 meters, 15,814 feet). Two days later we flew by helicopter to the Fortambek Base Camp at 4000 meters, where we joined 76 other international climbers plus 15 Soviets. For conditioning, we made an overnight climb of White Rock Peak (5100 meters, 16,733 feet). Moore, Ellsworth and I continued on to the summit of Pik Umarov (5224 meters, 17,139 feet). Two days later, on July 21, we turned our attention to the Burevestnik Rib route of Pik Kommunizma. Following the Soviet style of acclimatization, we first climbed to Camp I at 5100 meters and the next day to Camp II at 6000 meters. On the 25th we left much of our gear and food and returned to Fortambek for rest. On July 28 we ascended to Camp II. During the night, Ellsworth developed stomach problems and had to withdraw. Renta, Moore and I continued across the 12-kilometer Pamir Ice Plateau to Camp III at 6100 meters. On July 31 we reached Camp V at 6900 meters and on August 1 set out for the summit of Pik Kommunizma, traversing over Dushanbe Peak (6900 meters, 22,638 feet) on the way. Moore and I reached the top but Renta was forced by exhaustion to turn back 60 meters short of the summit.

Robert Rockwell