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A Brief History of Climbing Peak Lenin

In September 1928, a German-Soviet team made the first ascent of what was then named Kaufman Peak, towering at 7,134 meters (23,406 feet) in the Trans-Alai range of the Pamir Mountains. Peak Lenin’s rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions presented a formidable challenge, especially with the rudimentary climbing gear of the time: tightly wrapped layers of canvas, leather, and wool covered most of their bodies, and leather boots with nails fixed to the soles to grip on the ice and snow covered their feet. After this first ascent, the peak was renamed Peak Lenin, as it was then thought to be the highest point in the USSR (later discovered to be Peak Ismoil Somoni at 24,590’/7,495m). Still, at the time it was the highest point reached by anyone. It took them over a month traveling on foot.

Today, with GoreTex layers, steel crampons, and Alpenglow’s Rapid Ascent program, we can leave our homes, reach the summit of Peak Lenin, and be back to normal life in just 18 days. Led by our team of certified guides, climbers who have prior experience on 5,000- and 6,000-meter peaks will spend a day traveling through the lush valleys of Kyrgyzstan via the Pamir Highway before reaching base camp in the Edelweiss Glade. From there, we spend the next 9 days acclimating on the mountain and staging progressively higher camps before going for the summit.

This expedition utilizes our Rapid Ascent pre-acclimatization method, effectively cutting the normal expedition time in half without sacrificing risk mitigation in exchange for speed on the mountain. Climbers arrive at Base Camp already acclimatized to 16,500’ and quickly move up through the camps. With this particular focus on efficiency, we can focus more intently on the climbing itself without having to worry as much about how our bodies are adapting to the altitude. While the route on Peak Lenin is relatively non-technical, it does involve some climbing on steep, glaciated slopes and an extended ridge traverse to the summit. Overall, each piece of this expedition makes Peak Lenin a perfect stepping stone into not only climbing at 7,000 meters, but higher into 8,000 meters as well. In fact, it is widely accepted that Peak Lenin likely has the highest number of ascents of any 7,000-meter peak, for this exact reason. Climbers who perform well on Peak Lenin can then consider joining expeditions to mountains like Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Mt. Everest.

Interested in joining the 2024 Peak Lenin Rapid Ascent team? Our next trip to Kyrgyzstan runs July 28 – Aug 14, 2024, reach out to our office today to chat with our team.

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