Ambitions and Mountain Peaks

Belarusian mountaineers conquer Everest
Mountaineering is not an Olympic sport. The “scale of values” and peaks are different here, the main challenge being Everest, the 8,848-meter skyscraper that was for the first time conquered by man back in 1953. Since then Everest has been a sort of examination, a pedestal that, once you step on it, serves as proof that you are worthy. On May 23, at noon, Minsk time, the national banner of Belarus found itself fluttering on the very top of the highest mountain of the world. The flag was unfurled by the leader of the mountaineering expedition, Vladimir Telpuk. His partner, the Russian national Nikolai Totmyanin, had replaced the Belarusian Mikhail Melnikov, who had fallen ill just before the memorable day. The day before two more Belarusians, Viktor Lutov and Vladislav Kagan, set foot on the ceiling of the world, which means three of the four members of the expedition managed to “defeat” Everest.

— A truly great victory! exclaims the head of the Belarusian Federation of Mountaineering, Alexander Godlevsky. He is not even trying to cover his emotions.

— Viktor Lutov, Vladislav Kagan, Vladimir Telpuk and Mikhail Melnikov performed a real miracle, he adds.

Belarusians had been on top of Everest earlier: back in 1998 Viktor Kulbachenko, a member of the national mountaineering team of Uzbekistan, conquered the highest mount on Earth. However, eight years ago the routes were all developed and financed by Uzbeks, while the recent climb was exclusively Belarusian.

— The guys had been getting ready for Everest for about a month, Godlevsky said. Normally expeditions to Everest count up to 50 climbers, including guides, carriers, etc., but the four our compatriots managed without anyone’s help.

According to the head of the Belarusian Federation of Mountaineering, Alexander Godlevsky, this has been a very significant achievement, as the four Belarusians climbed the whole way from the base camp to the top without carriers, unlike most of the Himalayan expeditions. They were carrying the cargo from the base camp to the intermediary camps and advanced camps themselves. The “Snow Leopard” (who climbed the five 7,000-meter peaks of the former USSR), Mikhail Melnikov was unlucky: he had to stay in the last camp to the summit and was replaced by the Russian climber Nikolai Totmyanin, who reached the top of Everest without an oxygen mask. The two couples reached the peak with a day’s gap, and two Belarusian banners were set on top of the world.

by Dmitry Komashko
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