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a sport, the ascent of high, difficult mountain peaks. Alpine touring is often also included in this form of mountaineering.

Mountain peaks—usually the easiest ones—have been climbed since ancient times. However, mountaineering officially dates back to 1786, when a Swiss peasant, J. Bal-mat, and a Swiss doctor, M. Paccard, first reached the peak of Mont Blanc in the Alps, 4,810 meters high. The first mountaineering clubs arose in 1857 in England, in 1862 in Italy and Austria, and in 1863 in Switzerland. In Russia a climbing club was organized in 1872 in Tbilisi and a mountaineering club in 1877; the first ascents were completed in 1829 on the eastern peak of Mount Elbrus by the Kabardian K. Khashirov and on the peak of Mount Ararat (5,156 meters) by the Estonian F. Parrot and the Armenian Kh. Abovian.

Military topography contributed greatly to the development of mountaineering in Russia. In 1850 a group of topographers headed by General I. I. Khodz’ko climbed Mount Ararat in order to complete the triangulation of the Caucasus; in the same year the topographer P. N. Aleksan-drov climbed to the top of Mount Bazar-Diuzi (4,480 meters, the Caucasus)—in 1874 he completed the ascent of this peak in winter; in 1860 the topographer P. Zharinov reached the top of Demavend (5,604 meters) on the mountain range of the Elbrus (Iran). During the 1880’s and 1890’s the well-known Russian military topographer A. V. Pas-tukhov conquered many peaks in the Caucasus: the Kazbek, Mount Ararat, Aragats (Alagez), the western and eastern peaks of the Elbrus, and others.

Many mountain ranges of Middle Asia have been studied in Soviet times. Thus, the topographer I. G. Doroseev and the astronomer Ia. I. Beliaev, as members of the Pamir mountain expedition, were, with the mountaineers, the first to observe the many “white spots” of the Western Pamir and to determine the depth of the major Fedchenko Glacier. During the Great Fatherland War, military topographers, headed by P. N. Rapasov and the alpinist V. I. Ratsek, while surveying central Tien Shan during 1943–44, discovered the highest peak of this mountain system and called it Peak of Victory; until then Khan-Tengri had been considered the highest peak of Tien Shan.

After the Great October Revolution mountaineering developed as a group sport. The first sporting ascents were in 1923 on the peak of the Kazbek—G. I. Nikoladze’s group of 18 made it on Aug. 28 and A. I. Didebulidze’s group of eight on Sept. 3—and on the peak of the Avachinskaia Sopka in Kamchatka—V. K. Arsen’ev’s group of five reached it Aug. 5. During the 1930’s there were up to 30,000 alpine mountaineers climbing every year; Alpiniades were held. In 1934 the badges Alpinist of the USSR of the first and second class were established, as were the ranks of Master of Alpinism and Honored Master of Alpinism. More than 20,000 people received awards every year, and three or four became masters of the sport. Between 100 and 120 mountaineers per year climbed complex trails. While high sports ascents were rare, the highest peaks of the USSR were conquered during these years (see Table 1).

In 1936 the All-Union Section of Alpinists (later called the Mountaineering Federation of the USSR) was organized by the All-Union Committee on Matters of Physical Culture and Sport under the auspices of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars of the USSR, headed by N. V. Krylenko. In 1949 a national championship in mountaineering was conducted for three classes—technical, traverse, and high-altitude ascent—and in 1965 it was supplemented by high-altitude and technical ascent as well. The winners received the rank of National Champion of Mountaineering. Members of the first, second, and third place teams are awarded sports medals. Among the winners are sportsmen V. M. Abalakov, K. K. Kuz’min, A. G. Ovchinnikov, M. V. Khergiani, V. D. Monogarov, B. A. Studenin, L. V. Myshliaev, and A. A. Snesarev. During the 20 years that the contest has been held, the participants have undertaken approximately 400 complex ascents on the peaks of the Caucasus (including Ushba, Dykhtau, and Shkhel’da), Pamir (the Peak of Communism, the Peak of Lenin, and the Peak of the October Revolution), and Tien Shan (including the Peak of Victory, Talgar, and the Peak of Free Korea).

The classification table contains more than 2,000 trails to the tops of all the mountain regions of the USSR. The trails to the peaks are evaluated in six categories of difficulty. The first five are divided into subcategories a and b. The

Table 1. Ascents of Soviet sportsmen on 7,000-meter peaks of the USSR
PeakHeight (m)Mountain chainMountaineerDate
Khan-Tengri ....................6,995Tien ShanM. Pogrebetskii, F. Zauberer, B. TiurinSept. 11, 1931
Peak of Communism.............7,495PamirsE. AbalakovSept. 3, 1933
Peak of Lenin...................7,134Pamiro-AlaiV. Abalakov, K. Chernukha, I. LukinAug. 9, 1934
Peak of Victory..................7,439Tien ShanL. Gutman, E. Ivanov, A. SidorenkoSept. 19,1938
E. Korzhenevskaia Peak........7,105PamirsA. Ugarov, A. Gozhev, B. Dmitriev, A. Kovyrkov,Aug. 22, 1953
   L. Krasavin, E. Ryspaev, R. Selidzhanov, P. Skorobogatov 
Peak of the October Revolution .. .6,987PamirsA. Ugarov, R. Andreev, A. Gozhev, A. Kovyrkov, E. Ryspaev,Aug. 17, 1954
   R. Selidzhanov, P. Skorobogatov, I. Solodovnikov, 
   M. Shilkin, A. Shkrabkin, B. Shliaptsev 

trails in the first category, the easiest, can be climbed by mountaineers having elementary preparation—that is, the simplest technique of hiking in mountains and the simplest precautions. Trails in the second category demand individual and collective precautions at various places and more technical preparation. The trails of the third category include a group of complex pitches of a limited area; precautions and techniques for traveling these trails must be much more complete; pitons must be used for precaution in certain instances. The trails in the fourth category are distinguished from the third by the greater expanse of the complex areas. The trails of the fifth and sixth categories demand climbing techniques of a high quality, frequently with the use of artificial aids—that is, pitons, stirrups, short ladders, and platforms. These trails demand a high degree of tactical mastery and the utmost care in precautions.

Since 1967 the Mountaineering Federation of the USSR has been a member of the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA). In the USSR work on mountaineering is conducted by trade union sport societies which have mountaineering camps where young people are trained and where experienced sportsmen perfect their techniques; specialists—geographers, geologists, builders, and others—prepare themselves in these camps.

In 1968 the USSR had 18 mountaineering camps capable of accommodating between 11,000 and 12,000 people. Every year some 6,000 or 7,000 winners of the badge Alpinist of the USSR and from 50 to 70 masters of the sport are trained in the camps. Sports assemblies and expeditions are held. During the 1960’s the number of sports ascents grew sharply in comparison with those of the 1930’s: every year up to 3,000 men climbed the trails of the highest categories alone.

Good health, general physical preparation, and special training are necessary for ascending and moving under the conditions of thin atmosphere and variations in temperature, moisture, and increased ultraviolet radiation. Therefore only young men and women over 17 years of age are allowed to participate in mountaineering; the minimum age for high-altitude ascents of 6,500 meters and more is 24. Medical checks are necessary in mountaineering. The mountaineer’s equipment must ensure safe climbing on the trail (precaution) and bivouacs at any altitude on any terrain in any weather conditions. The perfection of precaution depends on the level of sports mastery of the mountaineers, the collectivity of their actions, organization, and discipline as well as on the correct and timely use of their equipment.

In mountaineering, special equipment is used: clothing which provides protection from the wind, precipitation, and changes in temperature and ultraviolet radiation; special footwear, resoled with three-pointed spikes (trikoni) or with Vibram rubber; rope, ice axes, crampons (special hooks fastened on the footwear), rock and ice pitons, hammers for driving in the hooks, tents, sleeping bags, and other equipment.

In order to ensure safety, rescue services have been organized in all the mountainous regions where there is mass mountaineering; they include check and rescue points, rescue divisions in the mountaineering camps, and sports assemblies. Unlike the rescue services of other countries, whose goal is to save those who are hurt, the goal of the rescue service of the USSR—in addition to saving people—is to check proper training and to organize and carry out mountaineering activity.

Mountaineering is very popular abroad, especially in Switzerland, France, Austria, and Italy. The most difficult trails in the Alps have been tackled by mountaineers on the northern faces of the Matterhorn, Eiger, Grandes Jorasses, Ortler, and Petit Dru. There are ascents on Mount Fitz Roy in South America. The first ascents of foreign alpine mountaineers are shown in Table 2.


Pobezhdennye vershiny. Moscow, 1948. (A collection on Soviet alpinism.)
Table 2. First ascents of mountaineers on 8,000-meter peaks of the world
PeakHeight (m)Mountain chainMountaineerNationalityDate
Annapurna ...............8,078HimalayasM. Herzog, L. LachenalFrenchFeb. 6, 1950
Chorno Langma (Everest) ...8,882HimalayasE. Hillary, Tenzing NorkayEnglishMay 29, 1953
Nanga Parbat.............8,125HimalayasH. Buhl (alone)AustrianJune 3, 1953
Chogori (K2)..............8,611KarakoramL Lacedelli A CompacinoniItalianJuly 31, 1954
Cho Oyu .................8,153HimalayasG. Tichy, J. Jochler, Pasang Dava LamaAustrianOct. 19, 1954
Mokabu ..................8,472HimalayasJ. Bouvier, L. Terray, G. Magnone, J. Couzy, P. Leroux, S. Coupé, J. Franco, A. Vialatte, Gyalzen NurbuFrenchMay 1 7 1 955
Kanchenjunga ............8,558HimalayasG. Band, N. Hardy, J. Brown, T. StreatherEnglishMay 25 1955
Manaslu..................8,128HimalayasT. Imanisi, Gyazlen Norbu, M. Higeta, K. KatoJapaneseMay 9, 1956
Lhotse ...................8,504HimalayasE. Reiss, F. LuchsingerSwissMay 18 1956
Broad Peak...............8,045KarakoramM. Schmuk, K. Diemberger, H. Buhl, K. WinterstellerAustrianSept. 9, 1957
Gasherbrum ..............8,035KarakoramF Moravéc G Willerpart S LarchAustrianJuly 7, 1956
Hidden Peak..............8,068Karakoramw P. Schoening, A. KauffmanAmericanJuly 4, 1958
Dhaulagiri ................8,172HimalayasA. Schelbert, E. Forrer, K. Diemberger, Nyima Dorji, Nawang Dorji, P. Diener, M. Vaucher, H. WeberSwissMay 13, 1960
Gosainthan ...............8,013HimalayasChineseHsu Ching and nine othersJune 14, 1964
Sputnik al’pinista. Moscow, 1957.
Abalakov, V. M. Osnovy al’pinizma. Moscow, 1958.
Rototaev, P. S. Pokorenie gigantov. Istoriia ovladeniia vy-sochaishimi gornymi vershinami. Moscow, 1958.
Standard Encyclopedia of the World’s Mountains. Edited by A. Huxley. London, 1962


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