Maksut Zhumaev, the famed Kazakh alpinist who conquered all of the world’s highest peaks, is going to ascend Khan Tengri, the highest point in Kazakhstan, and he recently outlined his planned route with representatives of the Austrian Alpine Club.
The three-week climb is scheduled to begin July 26 and will reach the highest point of the Tien Shan mountain range. Its height is more than 7,000 metres. Zhumaev will climb with the Austrian alpinists who have come to discover Kazakh climbing.
The expedition will be the first joint project with athletes and tourists from Austria after the signing of a memorandum of understanding and cooperation between Kazakh and Austrian partners in 2012.
“In fact, I have a small debt to pay to Khan Tengri,” Zhumaev said. “In 2011 our team, CSKA, climbed there. It was during harsh frosts and we were hoisting the flag of the Winter Asian Games. For us it was very important. The team was in harsh conditions. The climb was quite severe. There were snowfields up there all the time. We needed to walk down the ridge constantly. During training, I developed pneumonia. And while climbing, I felt sick and had to attract a rescue helicopter for evacuation. So then I did not ascend and I remain in its debt.”
The 37-year-old Kazakh alpinist barely returned home after climbing Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. Climbing it, he said, he was on the brink of life and death. Strong winds and almost zero visibility greatly hampered the way. But despite the bad weather, he managed to overcome the mountain height of 6,200 metres. At times, the climber recognised that he wanted to quit and go home. But Zhumaev recalled his 70-year-old coach, who two years ago conquered this mountain, so he had an incentive.
Now Zhumaev continues to engage in the development of Kazakh tourism. He said that in the next year a special Austrian mountaineering magazine would publish the Kazakh mountain trails where you can go on an expedition. “That’s how we open new streams of tourists to our country,” concluded the athlete.