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Pamirs Expedition 1993:
On Top of Communism

Short version of my Pamirs travel report 1993
in German in "Mitteilungen des DAV Überlingen" 1994
© Hartmut Bielefeldt 1993

Quick overview - mountains
Peak Petrovsky4829 m
"Left Valley Guard"4750 m
Peak Vorob'eva5691 m
Peak Korzhenevskoj7105 m
Borodkin Buttress Summit6240 m
Peak Communism7495 m

Basil's Cathedral, once again...
Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, once again...

Former Soviet Union has already proven last year to offer much more than Kremlin, Taiga, and Tundra. The "top of the world",the Pamirs, belongs to this region with its major parts. There we find five 7000 m peaks. The Pamirs were our destination for this year, too. The great friednliness of Russians, Kyrgyz, and Tadshik people is always a good reason for a visit. And the mountains are worth it anyway.
After the flight to the base camp Atchik Tash at Peak Lenin via Moscow and Tashkent, we acclimatize there by climbing several 4000 m peaks. Some days later we fly by helicopter to base camp "Moskvin" which is situated in a unique place at 4400 m altitude between the two big and chaotic glaciers Moskvina and Valtera.

Loading the helicopter
Loading the helicopter in Tashkent

In the helicopter
The slightly crowded helicopter is on the way to Atchik Tash.

Sphere primula near Peak Lenin base camp Atshik Tash
Sphere primula near the Peak Lenin base camp Atchik Tash

Peak of XIX. communist party convention
Peak of the XIX. convention of the Soviet Communist Party .
(It still hasn't changed name)

A Yurt is being built
A yurt is being put together near Atchik Tash.

Helicopter leaves base camp Moskvin
The helicopter is leaving base camp Moskvin again.

Camp Moskvin, in the back Peak Communism
Camp Moskvin, in the back Peak Communism.

Our very first destination is a 5000 m peak near the camp, Peak Vorobijev, translated "sparrow". These 5691 m summit height take a lot of breath in the beginning, but seeing the giants in the north and south, this is really only a sparrow.

Peak Vorobijev
On the summit of Peak Vorobijev, looking to Peak of the Four, Peak Moskva and Peak Klara Zetkin

Peak Korzhenevskaja as seen from Vorobijev
Peak Korzhenevskaja as seen from Vorobijev

Right afterwards, hopefully well acclimatized, we begin to attempt the first of these two, Peak Korzhenevskaja. It was first discovered by the topographer Korzenevskij around 1900 and named after his wife. We experience a lot of bad weather at this mountain.

working in the kitchen tent
During bad weather, there's enough to do in the kitchen, too.
(We are folding something like Tadshik ravioli)

Our tents in base camp Moskvin after bad weather
Our tents in base camp Moskvin, after bad weather and a helicopter "attack"
(Seems big fun for the pilot to leave the landing place only a few meters above the tents)

Four days after setting up the first camp finally a weather improvement, ascent again. The next day comes a long traverse, we reach the south ridge with the key problem (UIAA 3) and set up our camp at 6400 m after tiring seven hours. The next day, too, the weather is good; we follow the snow crest towards the top. Bad weather is faster, however. Beyond 6800 m we sit in a foggy soup; nevertheless a return is not discussed. After seven hours we reach the summit, 7105 meters and zero sight. The joy of thousand summits in the view from here would be bigger, but the joy of our own achievement is big enough anyway.

Peak Communism seen from camp 2 at Peak Korzhenevskaja
Peak Communism seen from camp 2 at Peak Korzhenevskaja

The following day we descend to the base camp, and we feel the exhausting summit day. Will we also make the second 7000m peak? We have six days left, so either - or. We have to do Peak Communism faster than previously planned.

Evening at camp 2, Peak Korzhenevskaja
One of the nicest evening views one probably can see in the world:
Peak Communism thrones well 3000 meters above us; in the right half of the image the Borodkin buttress.

Departing to Peak Communism
Departing to Peak Communism


Claudia in "advanced base camp"


Rollo and Jupp

After a rest day, we walk up to the last comfortable campsite at 4700 m in the evening. (Until there, we can still transport the beer from the base camp bar and really can afford come comfort there). The next day is more serious: We expect 1600 nice height meters on a mostly not very difficult snowy buttress with some rocky parts (UIAA 3) with fixed ropes. Late in the evening we set up our camp on the big Pamir plateau at about 6000 m.

Borodkin buttress
Borodkin buttress

The next day we get up rather comfortably. Seven hundred height meter are pretty enough after yesterday; at 6600 m we set up our second camp in a quite tilted position, since there is few space here. Anyway - normally people make camp 3 here. After a badly slept night we get up at six and leave at seven o'clock. As we don't wont to stain the extraordinariliy good weather too much, we want to reach the summit already this day. After having to make the trace up to 6900 m, the snow becomes more solid, and one mostly can go about ten to twenty steps without a break. The irradiation from the sun is unexpedtedly high in this slope. Nevertheless it takes only four hours for 500 meters.

The final slope
The final slope to Peak Communism is rather steep.

Summit ridge of Peak Communism, at 7400 m.
At the summit ridge of Peak Communism, at 7400 m.

The remaining hundred meters of beautiful snowy crest take just some minutes: On the top even a cross is expecting us, being composed of two well fixed tent bows. 7495 meters, about -5 to -10°C, warm enough to be comfortable. The view is a bit limited by the rising clouds, but we are easily satisfied with 50 kilometers. Very nice the view to the base camp lying 3000 m below us, five thousand meters lower the valleys limiting the mountain range. The same day we descend to the plateau at 5900 meters, and the next day until the base camp.

Camp on Pamir plateau, 5900 m
Camp on Pamir plateau, 5900 m

Despite its "handicapped" name, Peak Communism is one of the nicest (and not necessarily easiest) seven thousand meter peaks. Once again, we got to know a wonderful mountain world with surely many possibilities left.

From camp Moskvin, we fly back to Tashkent, leaving this city towards Germany after one day of visit.

NB.: Tashkent was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1966. Whoever is interested in any culture before that date - we rather recommend Samarkand (see Expedition to Peak Lenin 1992). A "today's" city visit includes mainly the beautiful buildings of the new Ministeries of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Maybe as an alternative you are offered a visit to the public baths - better go to the baths.

The 'hotel' kitchen in Tashkent
The "hotel kitchen" in Tashkent
(with the most modest means people achieved maybe more than in serveal "soviet" houses)

Moskva river
Moskva river in Moscow

Red square in Moscow
Red square in Moscow


We undertook this trip in 1993 as participants of a 10-member commercial expedition organized by external linkHauser Exkursionen, Munich, Germany. Even today (1996), we judge it as the most perfect of our big mountaineering trips up to now. Not only because in the end most of us could climb both of the high mountains (8 out of 10), but also because the group very harmonically formed a unit and our expedition leader managed well the group as well as the conacts with the Russian/local team.

Peak Communism (until 1986 Peak Stalin) was renamed to "Ismoil Somoni" in July 1998, honoring the founder of the first Samanide state 1100 years ago. Today's Tadzhik Republic sees its roots in this state.
I can also offer a detailed report of this expedition (in German, hoewever). It contains 17 pages and is hard to fit into the 1 MB size limit of my homepage; so I decided to include only the short version on my homepage. If you are interested in the complete text, please have a look at the download page or e-mail to me.
Email:Hartmut (at) bielefeldt.de
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Last updated October 17, 1998 by Hartmut Bielefeldt