Elite Kyrgyz Climber Gets Warm Homecoming After Himalayan Ascents

Lhotse; image: Mark Horrell

A 52-year-old climber from Kyrgyzstan has returned home after scaling two of the worlds’ highest peaks in a 10-day span in May. He said he climbed both Himalayan mountains without supplemental oxygen.

Eduard Kubatov, head of Kyrgyzstan’s mountaineering federation, was welcomed with flowers at Manas International Airport in Bishkek on Thursday after climbing the Lhotse and Makalu mountains, which are both more than 8,000 meters above sea level. Kubatov, who ascended Mount Everest three years ago, previously said he wanted to climb K2 in Pakistan this month in his bid to summit the 14 mountains internationally recognized as “eight-thousanders.”

Kubatov and climbing sherpa Dawa Chhiring got to the top of Makalu on May 30, 10 days after Kubatov summited Lhotse, said 14 Peaks Expedition, a trekking company based in Nepal that assisted him.

The Kyrgyz climber said on Instagram that both ascents were “non-oxygen,” meaning he took on the greater challenge of ascending without bottled oxygen, and that he accomplished “the first major mountaineering double in the history of Kyrgyz mountaineering.”

Climbing the world’s highest mountains without supplementary oxygen can be about 40% harder and so few climbers go without it that they are “like an endangered species,” Kubatov said on Facebook.

“It is extremely honorable and highly valued in the world mountaineering system!” said Kubatov, adding that he believes stronger Kyrgyz climbers will eclipse his accomplishments in the future.

In 1978, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler became the first people to climb without supplemental oxygen to the summit of Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 8,849 meters above sea level. Messner was also the first person to climb all 14 so-called “eight-thousanders.”

Veteran climber Tim Mosedale has said there will always be a debate about using supplemental oxygen to climb the highest mountains.

“Whether or not it is viewed as being ethical, it is undoubtedly sensible,” he wrote. “After all, a client who becomes debilitated puts the lives of other climbers, and the Climbing Sherpas, at risk.”

Kubatov returned to Bishkek with other Kyrgyz climbers who also climbed in Nepal. Ilim Karypbekov became the fourth Kyrgyz citizen to summit Everest, and Kadyr Saidilkan, who climbed Everest last year, added Lhotse to his list of accomplishments on this year’s trip.

Kyrgyzstan has a strong mountaineering tradition, and several peaks in the Central Asian country are in the 7,000-meter range.

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Times of Central Asia