American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Lenin Peak, southwest rib of west ridge

Kyrgyzstan, Zaalaisky Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Anna Piunova
  • Climb Year: 2012
  • Publication Year: 2013

In August the Russian and Latvian team of Mikhail Babich, Vladimir Lavrinenko, Andrei Lebedev (leader), Yuri Maksimovich, Valdis Purins, Oleg Silin, and Ivan Zhdanov completed 36 days of trekking and climbing along the Zaalaisky Range, of which Lenin Peak (7,134m) is the highest point. During this trip they went through nine mountain passes and reached several summits of the Zaalaisky, including Lenin Peak via a new route: the southwest rib of the west ridge.

On the 30th day of their trek, the group climbed up from the south to Razdelnaya Pass (6,100m), the traditional location of Camp 3 for the popular route up Lenin’s western ridge. On the morning of August 30, while two climbers summited Lenin via this route, the other five participants (Babich, Lavrinenko, Lebedev, Maksimovich, and Zhdanov) climbed up the west shoulder (6,400m) of Lenin and then descended to the south on the Malaya Saukdara Glacier at the altitude of 5,910m. From here they would climb a steep rib to the Parachutists’ Plateau at 6,915m near the top of the west ridge.

On August 31 the team ascended the rib to 6,500m, with mostly snow and ice climbing and short rock walls between 6,200m and 6,400m. The next day they climbed the snowy upper part of the rib and set up the camp on Parachutists’ Plateau. In the morning of September 2 the weather deteriorated into a whiteout. Relying on GPS, the group tried to summit but were forced back to high camp. Two hours later it cleared but became much windier. Nonetheless, they reached the top and then, in a snowstorm with visibility of only 5m to 20m, descended the western ridge to 6,585m, where they had a sleepless night in high winds and heavy snow. The next morning they descended the normal route to the Lenin Glacier.

Supplied by Anna Piunova, Mountain.ru, and translated by Ekaterina Vorotnikova

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