Peak Pobeda: three climbers die in a seven-day long storm

Posted: Sep 03, 2010 03:27 pm EDT

(ExWeb/Madrid) Nearly 15 people got stuck for seven days in a fierce storm between 7,000 and 6,400 meters on Tien Shans Peak Pobeda last week, as they were on their way back from the 7,439-meter summit. Russian climbers Yuri Efremov, Andrey Baynazarov and Kirill Mokhov died before reaching the airlift rescue point at 5,500 meters on Dikiy Pass.

The stranded group of climbers topped-out Pobeda at 2PM on August 23, RussianClimb reports. The summit team included three Poles Aleksandra Dzik, Krzysztof Starek and Jakub Hornowsk, plus about ten Russian climbers from various precedences.

The weather was fine at summit time, but the mountain cirrus clouds announced an approaching storm.

Efremov, 60, got sick right on the summit and reportedly suffering a heart stroke. His mates provided him with medicine and helped him down. Reaching 7,400 meters back, they were wrapped in a whiteout and very strong winds. Soon the group was forced to stop and pitch their bivouac tents. The storm would last for over a week, leaving the summiteers stranded with only three small tents for shelter. There was contact with the rescue team over the radio, but the climbers needed to make it down to the so-called Dikiy Pass (5,500m) in order to be airlifted.

A fight for survival

A first attempt to descend 48 hours later was considered useless, so the stranded climbers were forced back to the tents in the gale. Efremov died that day in spite of being treated. Mate Kirill Mokhov was also in a poor state by then, losing consciousness intermittently. He passed away on August 26.

That morning the weather improved slightly, permitting the stranded climbers to reach a cave at Vazha (800 meters below the first bivouac place); the Poles followed one day later.

On August 28, the group decided to shovel down their way--some reaching back at 6,400 meters, others continuing down to 6,100 meters. Andrei Bainazarov died the following day. The survivors finally reached Dikiy Pass on August 30 where they were finally airlifted.

The news reached the Russian media only yesterday. By then all the survivors were under treatment due to frostbite.

According to, the Russian climbers were climbing to commemorate the 65th anniversary of their countrys WW II victory.

Some background by A. Verkhovod

Peak Pobeda (7,439m) is one of the northernmost, and most dangerous 7,000-meter-plus mountains in the world, Kazakh Andrey Verkhovod reported. Its located in the Tien Shan range, right at the China Kyrgyzstan border. Its one of the five peaks comprising the 'Snow Leopard' title.

Pobeda counts on just one winter ascent, by a team lead by Valeriy Khrishchatyi in 1990. Since then, no one has even tried to repeat the feat, Andrey added. Pobeda is well known for its very unstable weather, loads of snow and high avalanche risk.

Update 5AM EDT: Survivor Aleksandra Dzik, from Poland, is a member of the Polish Winter Himalayan team, with whom she led a bold summit attempt in tough conditions on Nanga Parbat earlier this summer. According to the team's site, by summiting Pobeda she became the first Polish Snow Leopard lady.

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