IN THE SUMMER of 2010, after a ski descent from Shkhara in the Georgian Caucasus, Peter Schön traveled to the Tien Shan with Anders Ödman, hoping to make a ski descent of the north face of Pik Pobeda (7,439m). That objective proved too avalanche prone, so the pair opted to attempt a ski descent of the more remote Pik Pobeda East (6,762m).
They acclimatized by climbing Khan Tengri (6,995m) by the standard route from the south. Subsequently, their approach up the Zvezdochka Glacier toward Pobeda East took several days, and the pair witnessed frequent avalanches, the proportions of which they had never seen before or would see since. One huge avalanche, probably emanating around 6,500m, powdered them in their tent on the glacier at 4,800m.
After reaching the Chon-Toren (or Teren) Pass at 5,488m, they began a summit push up the 35° to 50°-plus northeast ridge of Pobeda East. Ödman eventually turned around 200m below the top, wanting to preserve a bit of energy for the descent. Schön continued alone, punching through crusty wind slabs and negotiating tiring unconsolidated snow over rock. Exhausted, he reached the summit at 2:30 p.m. The views were expansive, particularly into the vast Chinese Tien Shan and along the ridgeline to the main summit of Pobeda.
After taking photos, Schön made a lone ski descent of the beautiful ridge: steep, exposed, and above a remote desert of ice and snow.
– Lindsay Griffin, with information from Peter Schön