Peak Gorky (6,050m), south face, Slovenia Direct. In July-August 2003 the region of famous peaks Pobeda and Khan-Tengri was visited by expedition from Slovenia. Its members were mostly young alpinists, climbing at such heights for the first time: Ales Cesen, Anze and Tine Marence, Darko Podgornik, and Peter Poljanec. The main goal of the expedition was the south face of Peak Gorky (6,050m), which had not been climbed before. The team arrived to Almaty, the former capitol of Kazakhstan by direct flight from Frankfurt, on July 21. On July 25, after transfer to Karkara camp near Kyrgyzstan border (to the east from Issyk-Kul Lake) and 40-minute helicopter flight, the expedition arrived to the base camp located on moraine at 4,100m between peaks Khan-Tengri and Pobeda. About 10 days were spent on acclimatization on nearby peaks (twice up to about 5,300m) and preparation of ABC in a snow cave at 4,750m in the lower part of south face of Peak Gorky. Meanwhile Peter Poljanec had to return home because of a twisted ankle.
Upon arrival to the base camp they noticed that the wall could be climbed following two logical lines: the direct line over the waterfall, which rises over rock level in the upper part of the wall, or over the snow and ice to the right side over the southeast fissure. This direct variant was taken as more beautiful and as a bigger challenge. Two unsuccessful tries followed. First one ended in the ABC camp, and the second one in the direct variant beneath the rock level, 300 meters under the top of the wall, because of the bad conditions (too thin, husk ice) and technical difficulties (they did not have enough equipment to get to the upper part of the wall).
The team did have success on the third try. They arrived to ABC cave in bad weather again, but in the evening a marvelous night with a full moon followed. Visibility was excellent. They started climbing at 11 p.m. Unattached the group progressed quickly and at the sunrise they were already 100 meters beneath the first snowdrift (at the height of 5,800 meters). Over it they discovered an interesting and difficult passage through a kind of snow-ice chimney. Wading in snow up to the waist on a slope followed. The exit over the last snowdrift and they were on the pre-peak Gorky, at around 6,000m. Because of approaching bad weather, they started to descend the south ridge (in the direction of the first-ascent in 1962), but that was hardly possible, with hollow snow up to the waist and snowdrift. Consequently they descended into the southern part of the wall after 200 meters. For some time the night descent took place in catastrophic weather conditions. It grew calmer in the lower part of the wall so they could descend directly into base camp. In the ideal conditions (shadow, good weather) the wall is really calm, but as soon as it starts snowing or the wall is touched by the sun, it comes alive. That is why they climbed the wall mostly at night. You can climb the wall at least over two more beautiful and logical lines: over the line of their first attempt (in better conditions) and the line of their descent.
Slovenija Direkt: climbed in two days (Aug. 11-12,2003) on the south face of Peak Gorky, by Ales Cesen, Anze and Tine Marence, and Darko Podgornik (1,700m, V-VI, 5, 90°/50-65°). After successful climbing Peak Gorky (by the way named after Maxim Gorky, famous Soviet writer of early XX century) and short rest just enough time was left to try the to scale neighbor Khan-Tengri peak (7,010m) via normal route from South. This time the tour took three days. The first day they started from ABC at 4,200m and reached camp 3 (5,800m) near the West saddle between Khan-Tengri and Chapayev peak (6,371m). The second day they reached the summit (7,010m) and descended back to camp 3. The third day the team returned to the base camp and from there on flew with the helicopter the following day, back to the valley.
Gregor Sifrer, www.promontana.si, www.Mountain.RU