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Mountains have always been mysteries. Life on the verge of human capabilities is closely intertwined here with mysticism, creating a world in which laws that are different from the usual ones operate. Only one careless movement separates life from death here. A feat from recklessness is a decision made in a split second.

I remember my three-hour conversation with a Romanian mountaineer, an employee of the National Academy of Sciences from Bucharest, Rezvan Petcu, in a large army tent in the Bayankol camp. Rezvan has just experienced one of the main events of his life. When climbing Pobeda Peak in a year when, due to heavy snow and bad weather, there were almost no expeditions to it, Rezvan found himself in a very difficult situation. At the summit dome, all the comrades left him, went down. Rezvan went to the summit alone, and then went down for three days without water, food and stove through Vazha Pshavela in difficult conditions. Why he ended up without life support is a separate issue. Rezvan, whose big toe turned black as a result of this forced solo, spoke emotionally about how a mysterious companion accompanied him all these days. Someone's voice guided him, suggested how to act, where to go, where to find a small puddle of water at the 6000th altitude, from which he quenched his thirst when he had no strength left. Rezvan Petcu assured me that this mountain is phenomenal, that he had never seen anything like it in his climbing biography. "There is God!" - exclaimed the climber-scientist.


Honored Master of Sports of the USSR Rinat Khaibullin made a solo ascent to Pobeda Peak.

This mountain, located on the border of Kyrgyzstan and China, in the heart of the Central Tien Shan, has a reputation as one of the most insidious on the planet. In terms of the complexity and dangers of the routes, in terms of its scale and length of the path to the summit, Pobeda is more comparable to the eight-thousanders of the Himalayas than to the Central Asian peaks. The main peak with a height of 7439.3 meters is a one and a half kilometer ridge that rises above the western and eastern shoulders. From the Eastern peak of the peak to the Western one - the distance is about 12 kilometers, and throughout the entire length the height here is 7000 meters or more! This peak cannot be considered a peak in the traditional sense, the term "mountain range" is more suitable. The climber is waiting for countless dangers here: cracks, rocks and flowing ice, often treacherously covered with snow. A careless step - and you are already flying from a two-kilometer wall.

The weather conditions at Pobeda are particularly harsh and changeable. This peak, towering over an entire mountainous country, like a magnet attracts sudden hurricanes, heavy snowfalls. A storm can last for several days, and avalanches on Pobeda go without a schedule - day and night. No wonder the whole history of its mountaineering development is overshadowed by numerous tragedies. Suffice it to say that by 1969 there were an equal number of those who ascended to the summit and those who died. And until now, the proportion between these two values remains one of the most disappointing in world statistics.


So, Rinat Khaibullin threw a daring challenge to himself, going alone to this famous mountain. But it was not just a solo climb. Rinat was going to climb Pobeda Peak in one light day, which no one had done before: the classic route to Pobeda takes 5-7 days.

He was in excellent shape, he had just made a similar solo ascent to the Khan-Tengri peak, opposite Pobeda, on the opposite "shore" of the South Inylchek glacier. Rinat was walking at a sporting pace and had already gained three kilometers of height, having reached the Western Peak, when the very bad weather that these places are famous for suddenly began. There was no way out, a cold night was coming.

- I objectively perceived the situation, - says Rinat Khaibullin, - at seven thousand on Pobeda, without a tent and without food by morning, you can either just freeze to death, or, at least, freeze something seriously ... The feeling of panic and fear is interesting feeling: starting somewhere inside, ends with a complete devastation of the soul ...

Rinat made a niche in the ice wall with a small ice ax that you can't work hard with. He squeezed into her sideways, tightened his puff jacket and waited.

What was he thinking about during these critical hours? When at the age of 18 he got on the famous sports assembly line for the production of mountaineers-champions of the head coach in mountaineering of CSKA Yervand Ilyinsky, he no longer completely belonged to himself, belonged to his team and the mountains. More than 30 seven-thousanders behind him, a two-time "snow leopard", a participant in the Himalayan ascents to Kangchenjunga (Second Soviet Expedition), the South Face of Lhotse (the first ascent of the most difficult route as part of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions), Daulagiri on the Western Face (Kazakhstan expedition), McKinley Peak on Alaska, finally, solo ascents to the seven thousandth peaks of Korzhenevskaya, Communism, Khan Tengri. And now he lies on the western shoulder of the legendary mountain, pressed into the ice and awaiting his fate. And then the inexplicable happens to Rinat.


“Suddenly, I felt, even saw, my double, “Rinat Khaibullin”, is sitting next to me, and he starts talking to me: “Don’t lie on your side, but substitute your elbow so as not to freeze your side.” I am doing. Then he says something else. And I panicked - it means that I already have hallucinations, my consciousness begins to turn. I think it needs to be checked. I tried to solve problems - logical, mathematical, remember the details of the route. Consciousness was clear, pure. But the double did not disappear.

Then he made me get a gas burner out of my backpack: warm up some water, you've been walking all day, you need to drink. I argued for half an hour, arguing that in such a wind I could not use the burner, but the second "Rinat" insisted. Then I took out a burner, the wind was strong, but I boiled two hundred grams of water. Again he began: "Get a chocolate bar." I argue: "She's in the cold - like sand." He: "Nothing, you swallow, then you'll figure it out." I do.

Next: "Unlace your shoes to improve the blood supply to your feet." And so all night. Somewhere at seven it began to get light, I felt that I had a rest, I open my eyes, I see a wind. The physical condition is perfect, nothing frostbitten.


Rinat started moving towards the route. When I saw the familiar rocks, my soul sang: "I will live." At the same moment, he breaks down, stepping on an ice lens, powdered with freshly fallen snow. The cats did not stay on the ice. Automatic swing with an ice pick. An ice ax, presented to him by a friend, the famous French "Himalayan" Pierre Bejan, who died on the eight-thousandth peak of Annapurna in 1991, plunges into the slope. A jerk, the ice ax breaks out of his hand, but it is secured to his belt, thanks to which Rinat hangs over a more than two-kilometer wall.

- There are statistics: if, having slipped on an icy slope, you did not linger on the first meter of the fall, then you will not linger further. But I flew three or four meters and lingered. Looked around. Ten seconds later, a large tremor began to beat in my arms and legs - a powerful adrenaline rush. I managed, went to the ridge and continued to move. I go down - and then I fall into a crack, covered from above by a snowy "ceiling". I fell deep, I linger, hanging on my elbows. Having got out, out of curiosity, he looked in and for the first time in his life saw such a crack - the walls are not visible, a large cavity from which it is impossible to get out. This was the second call. As you know, trouble does not come alone, there is a law of paired cases.

And it happened. An hour later, at the same place where Rinat Khaibullin slipped, a similar incident happened to the leader of Russian Pobeda climbers, Yuri Borodkin. Only with a disastrous ending. The climber failed to stay and died. The mountain took what it had to take. Such is the law of paired cases.

But this is not the whole story of the struggle. On the same day, Rinat had to go out again to the seven-thousander - to Khan-Tengri, this time for rescue work.

This is a different, but also instructive and interesting climbing story. And one more action of the aforementioned law, which is absent in scientific works, but repeatedly tested in practice by people leading an extreme lifestyle. A year earlier, two Spanish climbers climbed Khan-Tengri along the route of the highest category of difficulty, along the so-called Marble Ridge. They were dissuaded, offered to climb the lighter "classics" first. But the Spaniards did things differently. Their tent was found a hundred meters from the summit. One managed to be saved, the second was in a coma, and they did not have time to lower it.

A year later, a new Spanish expedition arrived at Khan Tengri, which set the goal of following in the footsteps of their comrades. Rinat Khaibullin, after talking with the Spaniards and finding out what mountain climbing experience they have, advised them not to climb such a difficult path. However, the Spaniards paid money for the ascent, and they did not need harsh recommendations. They remained silent and ... headed towards the goal.

The Spaniards did not return. All deadlines have passed, they were not there for the eighth day. They were last seen climbing to the top at the top of the marble crescents. It was just at the time when bad weather caught Khaibullin at Western Pobeda. The rescue team, which went out along the path of the descent of the Spaniards, returned back, as bad weather caused avalanches. Rinat with a group of volunteers also went in search of the Spanish group. The next day, an avalanche descended from Chapaev Peak, covering the place of the rescue camp an hour after they set out on the route. As a result, Rinat climbed the top of Khan Tengri for the second time in a few days, descended to the Marble Ridge, and found traces of the Spaniards. They died not far from that place on the yellow rocks of the near-top part of Khan Tengri, where a year ago their compatriot was left to die in a blue tent ... The law of paired cases?


Pictured: This mountain has a reputation for being one of the most treacherous on the planet. Rinat Khaibullin made a solo ascent to Pobeda Peak.

Photo by Ilya NAYMUSHIN


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