It is a sunny morning. No cloud appears in the sky. Today we want to explore the Base Camp at Lenin Peak.
We traverse the wide Alay Valley and cross the Kyzyl-Suu River before reaching a green, hilly landscape in the south of the valley. The road, or better said the gravel road, winds uphill between the hills and after 20 km we reach several small mountain lakes.
The largest lake is Tulpar Kul. We always have the white snow-covered scenery of Lenin’s Peak, which has a height of 7.134 m, in front of eyes. Now we are at 3500 m above sea level. Actually, the Peak Lenin is called Ibn Sina (Avicenna) Peak, since 2006. The Tajik government named it after a Persian philosopher. But, as Peak Lenin is easier to remember, everyone speaks of Lenin’s Peak.
At the Tulpar Kul is a small yurt camp. Most yurts serve tourists as an overnight accommodation. It is a landscape almost like in a fairy tale. Grazing horses, yaks, and goats move around.
People hike or fish in the lake. Sometimes small horse-drawn caravans also pass, like in the best times of the Silk Road. One still should not cherish an illusion. Snow can fall here sometimes in summer, too.
In the yurt camp, two horses are ready to take us to the Lenin Peak Base Camp, which is about 2.5 km away. Since we are 5 persons, including guide and driver, the women have the precedence and are allowed to ride. The fear is written on their faces, although the horses are very good-natured.
As we reach a small valley, which must be crossed, both decided to forego and return. Now we have two horses for three people. On the way we constantly take turns.
Lenin Peak Base Camp
The plateau is dotted with edelweiss and other flowers; clear clean water runs as small rivulets over the plain. In the distance, the first tented quarter appear. Altogether we can count three.
We head towards the largest camp when a person with a covered face approaches us. Already after the first words, we notice that we both speak German. It is Dr. Matthias Felsenstein from Stuttgart, who tries to climb the mountain. He had been at an altitude of more than 6000 m with other climbers in the Advance Camp (3rd Camp) a few days ago. But there was a strong wind at -20ºC, so they decided to go down again.
He says it can be dangerous to climb the mountain. One must traverse a broad snowfield which is very exposed to avalanches. In 1974, 8 female climbers died. In 1991, 43 people died when a 1.5 km wide glacier piece came loose at an earthquake.
Dr. Felsenstein advises to always observe the wind and the clouds, to assess the weather conditions in a realistic way. The week before, a German mountaineer had an accident and hurt her shoulder. A Russian mountaineer crashed down on the Tajik side. The rescue forces took 3 days to take him to a camp, from where the helicopter brought him to the hospital. His condition is critical.
My great deal of respect for Dr. Felsenstein for the ascent of Lenin’s Peak increases even more after he removed his face protection and tells that he is already 65 years old.
He gives us a little insight into the camps. There are several camps organized by different operators. This applies not only to the Base Camp but also to the other camps. Electricity and television are available all day. At the moment there is not much going on and one already starts to take down the tents.
Since we do not have much time, I only can thank you for the nice conversation and start my way back to the yurt camp. Now I dare on the back of a horse again and let myself be carried for a while. Our driver Khodaverdi shows that he also has a talent for taking videos.
Back in the Yurt camp, the owner of the horses shows us their power. They are only so easy to handle because they are really good-natured.
We then have lunch in a container. It serves as a kitchen and dining room. A couple from Switzerland inspects a yurt, where they want to spend the next night.
On the way back we meet bikers, for whom the terrain is ideal. We also pass a drilling tower. But we can not find out what is being drilled here.
As we go back to Sary-Mogol, the first clouds are slowly draw around Lenin’s Peak.
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