ALMATY – Svetlana Sharipova is one of the few mountaineers from Kazakhstan to conquer peaks of more than 8,000 metres without supplemental oxygen.
Sharipova, a Central Sports Club athlete, says she has fallen in love with the mountains. She was first drawn into the sport by its scenery and the sensation of being out on the trails. Now, Sharipova is one of Kazakhstan’s big name climbers. She has reached the peaks of Nursultan, Manshuk Mametova, Mayakovsky, Amangeldy and others and has won 12 high-speed mountain races.
She says Almaty’s geographical location probably helped get her into climbing, albeit relatively late, at the age of 32. Her husband Nurlan Sharipov supported her and mountain climbing became a family hobby.
“I never thought that I would become an athlete. In my school years and even later, I did not climb peaks higher than Medeu. Physical activity is my life, I love jogging, skiing, mountain biking and the like,” she said.
As she began to hike with colleagues, Sharipova longed for something more exciting and extreme and took up mountaineering professionally. In 2002, she won the women’s race to the top of Nursultan and later set the record for speed climbing Elbrus, which is still unsurpassed.
Sharipova is now delving deeper into the mountaineering world. There are 14 peaks of more than 8,000 metres in the Himalayas and the Karakoram, constituting the so-called “Crown of the Earth,” and to conquer them all is considered the highest achievement and dream of every high-altitude mountaineer. So far, a little more than three dozen athletes have made it.
Kazakhstan’s first woman to climb the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, was Lyudmila Savina. In 1997, as a participant of the national team, she climbed 8,848 metres, using supplemental oxygen. Sharipova has climbed two peaks higher than 8,000 metres without oxygen equipment.
“To me, the mountains are not measured in metres, they are measured in how much they put you in unison with nature,” Sharipova said. “Nothing compares to the bliss and heavenly beauty you feel, although it is a huge stress and there are extreme conditions and the sport causes enormous strain on the body, which is already experiencing a shortage of oxygen. Without training, which includes acclimatisation for a few weeks, you will not make it. Not everyone can adapt to the high altitudes.
“These ascents are not only about conquering peaks, they’re also about conquering yourself and your fears and it’s just great!” she said.
Sharipova, however, also has other things to attend to. She is happily married and raising her 2-year old daughter Diana. The climber says her family is most important, but that conquering Everest remains a dream.