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Women in Mountain Climbing

5 June 2012

Nowadays, women have a greater independence. Now, it is possible to see them deal with various men’s professions and kinds of sport. The first notes about female mountain climbers in Europe date back to the period between the late 18th and the early 19th centuries. Marie Paradis was the first woman, who in 1808 climbed Mont Blanc, the highest peak of the Alps. In 1871, Lucy Walker climbed the Matterhorn and marked the beginning of women’s mountain climbing.

Ladies, fraus and signoras now wear trousers and climb different mountain peaks. Now, we are aware of the women, who have climbed eight-thousanders and even those, who have climbed all the 14 highest mountains in the world. Two Kazakhstan’s athletes Lyudmila Savina and Svetlana Sharipova have climbed the Himalayas. In 1997, as part of the national team of the country, Kazakhstan’s mountain climbing coach Lyudmila Savina climbed Mount Everest using oxygen equipment.

Lyudmila Savina, Mountain Climber
-“You need a lot of physical and moral qualities to go in for climbing and I was convinced that I had them all. We had to climb down the mountain from the height of 8200 metres with two night breaks. We climbed down to a 5300-metre point and had to wait for the weather to be fine again. Eventually, we did it well.”

Svetlana Sharipova is a winner of an international Mount Elbrus speed climbing tournament as well as the champion of an Ili Alatau fast climbing championship. Without using any oxygen equipment, she also climbed the Makalu and Dhaulagiri eight-thousanders being part of the team featuring the three-times winners of the Asian Golden Ice Axe and the World Golden Ice Axe, Denis Urubko.

Svetlana Sharipova, Mountain Climber
-“It was very difficult and amazing at the same time. I gained a lot of new impressions of being in a different country and civilization. It seemed like a completely different world or another planet. Climbing high mountains is another world indeed. People, who climb eight-thousanders know each other personally. The base camp has between a few dozens and 1.5 thousand people. They meet every spring and autumn in the Himalayas.”

These girls, just like their predecessors, train every evening in an urban environment, go to the Ili Alatau Mountains or travel to rocky areas on holidays and in summer. All of them have different professions, but they are interested in mountain climbing that unites them all.

Violetta Afuksenidi, Mountain Climber
-“I have so far made a lot of friends among those, who go in for mountain climbing. I used to perceive mountain climbers as half-gods or even gods and I used to look at them with admiring envy. Later on, I also took up this kind of activity and I began to attend training sessions conducted by Kazbek Valiyev. I just wanted to test my abilities.”

A route to the foothills of any eight-thousander is very difficult and a way to its top is even harder. Mountain climbers receive the Snow Leopard award after they have climbed five mountains that are higher than seven thousand metres and located within the CIS. Three such mountains are situated in the Pamirs and in the Tian Shan. Violetta Afuksenidi has already climbed four eight-thousanders. She was also preparing for an ascent to the hardest, the most dangerous and northernmost eight-thousander of the world, called the Pobeda Peak in the Central Tian Shan.

Violetta Afuksenidi, Mountain Climber
-“We have had two acclimatisation sessions and we even had a case, when we were helping a person out. The mountain tested us seriously. I felt that I was getting sick during the third ascent to the height of 6100-6200 metres, so I decided to head back not let my team down. I have a dream to receive a Snow Leopard award and climb the Pobeda Peak. Then, I hope I can climb an eight-thousander.”

Nobody can see them from the earth, as these people can walk under the clouds jeopardizing themselves as mountains are about avalanches, rock-falls, mountain cracks and severe frosts. When in extreme conditions, a human body is trying to keep its main organs safe, which is why it switches off some of its functions interrupting its capillary blood flow, which is why mountain climbers may easily get frostbites. So, why do women like this kind of sports?

Violetta Afuksenidi, Mountain Climber
-“It gives you a sense of freedom and makes you understand the world better. It is also about beauty. By doing it, you test your strength, abilities, perception of your personality and inner world. You can fully discover your inner world by doing it.”

Safiya Yuzeyeva, Mountain Climber
-“I like this kind of sports for a sense of cohesion between people, which you can experience only in the mountains. Mountains also give you a sense of freedom and I have so far made a lot of good friends here.”

In 1950, Louis Lachenal and Maurice Herzog became the first two to climb the Annapurna eight-thousander in the Himalayas. In 1953, Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary made the first ever ascent of the summit of Mount Everest. In 1975,Junko Tabei from Japan was the first women to reach the peak of Mount Everest.

Safiya Yuzeyeva, Mountain Climber
-“To be honest, I would prefer complex rock climbing in warm conditions. I was scared a few times, especially when you are hanging on a rope and there are many metres below you and your rope is already moving over the bend.”

Climbers, who have climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, are holders of the Crown of the World title. Italian climber Reinhold Messner was the first to be crowned. Poland’s climber Jerzy Kukuczka implemented this programme within a record-fast period of 8 years. Kazakhstan’s mountaineer Denis Urubko became the first CIS climber, who climbed all the 14 eight-thousanders without using oxygen equipment. He used to train female climbers in his club. Recently, he passed this post onto experienced mountain climber Gennady Durov, who, together with Denis Urubko, had won two Asian Golden Axes for their complex ascent of the Tian Shan.

Gennadiy Durov, Mountain Climbing Coach
-“On the one hand, it is great that they are always nearby. On the other hand, women and men are not equal in difficult conditions, which is why men have do more, which makes the team weaker. I believe that women’s mountain climbing should not go higher than the second category, because high-altitude climbing is a very difficult kind of sports.”

Oh Eun-Sun is referred to as the first women to have completed the top 14 peaks ascent programme. Edurne Pasaban also implemented this programme successfully. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner also became the first woman, who fulfilled this programme without using oxygen equipment. She finished the programme of ascending the K2 with Kazakhstan’s mountain climbers Maksut Zhumayev and Vassily Pivtsov, both of whom bear this title as well. Who said that women cannot be involved in complex activities? Now, women take up mountain climbing for different reasons, but the question is at what stage do they stop?

ReginaAbuzarova, Mountain Climber
-“How did I get into mountain climbing? My parents are mountain climbers. One day my mother said that instead of staying at home, I should better find some occupation for myself. I asked what I could do specifically. She said that I could try tourism, mountain climbing, rock climbing and so on. I chose mountain climbing, the most difficult kind of sports.”

Nadezhda Baltynova, Mountain Climber
-“At first, I would often walk to Kok Zhailau and other places. Later on, I understood that it was not enough for me. I wanted something bigger than that. Then I met one man, who suggested climbing as a group.”

Usually, mountain climbing clubs involve children of mountain climbers. Some of them come here because their friends go here as well, but all of them want to test themselves and their abilities, which they can not use in the city because climbing outdoors is a true adventure.

Regina Abuzarova, Mountain Climber
“When I am asked which route is the most complex one, I cannot answer because there are no complex routes for me. They start laughing, because they say that this or that route is complex. I just trust people, if they say that they have been there. It means that it is possible to overcome this route.”

I have participated in the Pamirs expeditions for many times and I saw the monument to a women’s team that had never returned from the Lenin Peak. It happened not just because women are naturally weaker than men, but because they were killed by a strong hurricane, which destroyed everything on its way. It was only the radio station that remained undamaged.

In the 1970s, the USSR had a top-rated women’s team that was able to make ascents of any height and technical difficulty. In 1974, during an ascent of the Lenin Peak, the weather suddenly changed and it began snowing heavily. Athletes reached the peak but they faced a real danger as they could have lost in the fog when they were climbing down. Therefore, they had to set up a camp right on the peak. However, high altitude makes you neither healthier nor stronger. Elvira Shatayeva was the leader of the group at the time. Later on, rescuers found a tape with the recorded radio sessions between her with the base camp. She reported that one climber had fallen ill. Following a medical consultation on the radio, the sick climber received an injection and the team continued their descent. A hurricane arrived unexpectedly. Later on, dozens of men from Russian, Japanese, Austrian, English, German and French teams went out to search the missing group. However, it was impossible to find them in such a strong hurricane. Galina Perekhodyuk was the last of the lost climbers to have contacted the camp. She said that only two of the eight climbers were still alive and they wouldn’t take long.

Source: Caspionet.kz


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