the Snow Leopards
In the old Soviet Union times, one alpinist goal had a very high significance; to climb all Soviet peaks over 7000 meters. Those who managed to summit the five Central Asian giants could claim to be an elite mountaineer and take a place on the short list of high altitude climbers who had endured the ultimate test within the country's borders.
Also after the fall of the Soviet Union the Snow Leopard Trophy is of great significance and accomplished climbers from all over the world are attempting to ascend the five highest summits of "the Russian part" of Central Asia.
Three peaks are located in the Pamirs and two in the Tian Shan mountain range.
The names of the peaks
A lot of things has happened in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia lately. The new regimes have gotten rid of many “communist related” names and whole cities and areas have been re-named. The Snow Leopard peaks as well as many other mountains in the area have also been given new names. Unfortunately, some of the peaks have been given more than one new name and there’s a lot of confusion what the new official names really are.
Pik Kommunizma – Pamir - Tajikistan – 7495m
Reputation: A huge monster of a peak. The highest of them all in the old Soviet Union
Pik Pobeda – Tian Shan - China/Kyrgyzstan – 7439m
Reputation: By far the hardest of the Snow Leopard Peaks. Considered a dangerous peak with bad weather.
Pik Lenin – Pamir - Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan – 7134m
Reputation: Arguably the easiest 7000m peak. A trekking peak with a high number of fatalities.
Pik Korjenevskoy – Pamir - Tajikistan – 7105m
Reputation: Basically, none. The unknown of the five.
Khan Tengri – Tian Shan - Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan – 7010m*
Reputation: A mountaineers mountain. Many technical routes and speed climbing competitions.
The difficulty of the peaks
No mountain over 7000 meters can be considered an easy climb.
Pik Lenin holds the title (in fierce competition with Muztagh Ata) of being the easiest peak of that altitude. Still it’s one of the peaks which has claimed most mountaineers lives and an attempt shold not be taken lightly.
Pik Kommunizma is and Pik Korzhenevskoj are both quite un-technical via their respective normal routes, but both are considered a bit unsafe in terms of avalanche danger.
Khan Tengri’s two most common ascent routes moderately technical. The easier one is very prone to avalanches and the other is more difficult, even if it’s safer.
The main problem for all Snow Leopard climbers is the fearsome Pik Pobeda, which is considered a very hard climb by all categories of climbers. Many aspiring Snow Leopards have made four out five, but have had to throw in the towel when taking on Pik Pobeda.
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