Almaty Celebrates Alpiniad Fest with Mass Climbing of Abai Peak

More than 250 people celebrated Alpiniad July 4 by climbing Abai Peak in the Zailiisky Alatau mountain range. The organisers dedicated the event to the 170th anniversary of the great Kazakh literary figure Abai Kunanbaiuly, whose name was given to the 4,010-metre peak near Almaty. The festival also marked the 20th anniversary of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s ascent to the summit, reported Kazpravda.kz.

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Kuat Dombai atop Abai Peak. Photo from Kuat Dombai.

Popular in a number of post-Soviet countries, Alpiniad features a mass climbing of a particular summit. The tradition originated in 1933 when 58 people scaled Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus.

“The event was held in order to attract people to the active forms of recreation and development and popularisation of climbing. Everyone without age restrictions and with a good physical condition was invited to participate,” according to a press release from Almaty akimat (city administration).

Alpiniad started at 6 a.m. from the Shymbulak Ski Resort (2,200 metres), continuing through Talgar Pass (3,200 metres) and Bogdanovich Glacier to the top of Abai Peak. The event, completed under the supervision of climbers and trainers, ended at 2 p.m. The day was organised by Almaty akimat, the Kazakh National Olympic Committee, Almaty Department of Physical Culture and Sports and Kazakhstan Mountaineering Club.

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Kuat Dombai and other climbers at the 2015 Alpiniad. Photo from Kuat Dombai.

Participants were excited about the event and shared comments on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Popular Kazakh blogger Kuat Dombai noted there were many foreigners on the mountain, including individuals from Russia, China and Western countries. He admitted to being late to the start, causing him to get stuck in a “traffic jam” on the mountain heel created by a line of climbers waiting for their turn to scale the summit.

“Having stood for two hours … buckled with a safety carabiner and having had only a sandwich with kazy (horse sausage) for breakfast, I divided the number of those in line to a speed of assent and had to resort to a shameful escape. No hope for me. Today Abai won, but I will be back, God willing, ‘cause nothing compares to this pill of excitement, pure adrenaline, karmic closeness to God and the charge for the whole week. It is a blessing of God,” Dombai enthusiastically commented on his Facebook page.