As one of the world’s most famous 7000ers, Lenin Peak poses an interesting dare for any mountaineer. At 7,134 metres (23,406 ft), it is an ambitious climb and although at this altitude range it certainly shouldn’t be underestimated, its moderate technical difficulty makes it a popular spot for adventurers who want to muster the courage to tackle a challenging yet feasible goal!
Acclimatization is of course a must for mountains this high, and that is why getting to the summit involves a several-day expedition. The best bet is always to go with a seasoned guide who can both point out the way and pace the climb. Additionally, a good guide can organize logistics, including permits and other legal requirements that may be necessary for foreigners heading to this neck of the woods.
Lenin Peak is located in the Trans-Alay Range of the Pamir Mountains between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Most ascent routes are on the Kyrgyz side as the access is easier.
However, climbing Lenin Peak is not only about getting to the summit. With its stunning landscapes and lush valleys this majestic mountain has a special charm. Furthermore, you may find some interesting Soviet artifacts on the way. Also, the nomad culture in the region is very much alive and open to foreign visitors. If you are passionate about mountaineering and discovering new cultures then this is definitely one mountain that you should visit. Read on to get the 411 on all the considerations you need to take into account before you plan your trip!
Although there are a total of 16 routes to get to the summit of Lenin Peak, the most common is the classic North Face route. It is also the safest and technically, the easiest. Tours usually start with an 8-hour drive from Osh to the Lenin Peak Achik-Tash Base Camp, located in a beautiful glade at 3600m. Once there, more complete tours will offer a few initial shorter excursions to acclimatise before tackling the ascent to the Lenin Peak summit. This 21-day ascent program for example offers an acclimatization hike on day 1 to Petrovskogo peak.
The ascent to the Lenin Peak summit is usually divided into different stages: from Base Camp to Camp 1 (4300 m), from Camp 1 to Camp 2 (5300 m), from Camp 2 to Camp 3 (6100) and finally, from Camp 3 to the summit. Each of these stages may take one or several days, depending on acclimatization requirements and weather conditions. Most of the ascent is technically simple. However, keep in mind that after crossing the Puteshestvennikov Pass (4200 m) there is a glacial moraine that lead up to Lenin Glacier. Additionally, throughout the whole trek you will encounter many crevices, and challenging weather on occasions.
In terms of accomodation, there are no mountain huts in the area to stay in, so you will stop at different camps on the way. Organizing the logistics in terms of food and adequate tent infrastructure is one of the key aspects that a good guide will take care of, and this is no minor thing.
In terms of camp facilities, the Achik-Tash Base Camp is fully equipped including showers and electricity. It even has a Kyrgyz yurt, which is a local portable felt-covered house that is used as a dining room. The kitchen at this base camp offers three meals per day. This base camp is open from July to the beginning of September which is climbing season.
Other camps along the way are not so fully equipped as the Achik-Tash. You will need to keep this in mind when choosing your guide as you will find different proposals that either provide tents, food and camping equipment or leave this detail up to the participant. Tour prices range considerably due to this aspect. Here is one possible option that takes care of all the logistics and meals during the expedition.
Physical requirements and technical difficulties
Although Lenin Peak is not considered a difficult climb, no mountain this high is easy to climb. Altitude sickness is very common so make sure you consider adequate time for acclimatization. Also, although this ascent is not technically as difficult as others, there will be parts that require the use of crampons and ice axe. Crevices are very common, and so is very windy weather. Furthermore, whenever you tackle a mountain this high, it is always advisable to have some prior knowledge about mountaineering safety. You can find courses on this topic offered by the guides on Explore-Share. Additionally, it goes without saying that a good fitness level is essential if you are planning an ascent of this type. A seasoned guide will help you sort out any difficulties with terrain and know how to read the conditions to lead you in the best possible direction.
Because of the weather, Lenin Peak is usually tackled in the summer months of July and August. This is also the season when the Achik-Tash Base Camp is open. Climbing in the summer doesn’t guarantee hot weather though. In fact, Lenin Peak is known for being moody in this regard. All sorts of climatic conditions are possible, specially closer to the summit, including high winds, below freezing temperatures and snow. For this reason, it is important to be properly equipped and prepared. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.
Although climbing Lenin Peak is usually a summer activity, Kyrgyzstan is a great winter sport destination. So if you’re interested in snowboarding, splitboarding, or skiing in the region you can find some great tour options here.
As previously mentioned, adequate clothing and equipment is essential for an ascent of this type. This includes alternatives for warm weather, rain, wind and below freezing temperatures. Invest in good quality clothing, specially shoes, and lightweight gear as it will make all the difference in the world. Additionally, depending on the tour you decide to take, you will need to consider camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags and cooking gear. Most tours however, will provide all of these for you, but make sure to check. As with the clothing, invest in good equipment that can shelter you from strong winds and icy cold nights. Besides, you will need an ice axe and crampons. Ropes and harnesses are also recommended.
The price of a tour will depend greatly on the duration and what it includes in terms of logistics, accommodation and food. The price range for a 21 day trip is usually between €2000 and €4000 and does not include airfare. Also, you must keep in mind that you will need a visa to enter Kyrgyzstan, and that for the mountain you will need a permit and to pay a €30 ecological tax which many guides include in their proposal.
While visiting Kyrgyzstan there are plenty of other attractions to discover. Make sure you explore this stunning region, including ! We include some suggestions below:
Osh: This small city from where most tours to Lenin Peak kick off is a stunning location where you can catch historical sites such as breathtaking mosques and Jaimaa Bazaar. Since you will probably need to stop by Osh anyway, why not fit in an extra day or two to explore?