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1982 Soviet Everest Expedition

In 1982, a group of climbers from Soviet Union embarked on a daring expedition to conquer Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. This was the first acknowledged Soviet expedition to the Himalayas!

The 1982 Soviet Himalayan Expedition was a significant event in the history of mountaineering. It marked the first time that Soviet climbers embarked on an expedition to the Himalayas. The expedition took place in the spring of 1982, following a lengthy period of preparation.

The expedition was dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the formation of the USSR.

The members of the 1982 Soviet Himalayan Expedition were selected from one and a half hundred candidates, and the final team consisted of 25 people. The selection process involved a series of training camps during which the organizing committee and the Federation of Mountaineering paid attention to the preparation of athletes, their health, and psychological compatibility. The candidates participated in both sports (who will climb faster to the peak of Communism) and medical tests (testing in a baro-chamber at altitudes up to 10,000 m).

The expedition leader was Evgeny Tamm, the senior coach was Anatoly Ovchinnikov, the coach was Boris Romanov, and the team captain was Valentin Ivanov. For the assault on the mountain, the climbers were divided into four sports teams:

  1. Eduard Myslovsky, Nikolay Cherny, Vladimir Balyberdin, Vladimir Shoppin

  2. Valentin Ivanov, Sergey Efimov, Mikhail Turkevich, Sergey Bershov

  3. Yervand Ilyinsky, Sergey Chepchev, Kazbek Valiev, Valery Khristchaty

  4. Vyacheslav Onishchenko, Valery Khomutov, Vladimir Puchkov, Alexey Moskaltsov, Yuri Golodov

The fourth team was initially intended to be a support team, assisting with the organization of high-altitude camps and the delivery of supplies, as there was uncertainty about the assistance of Sherpa porters on the chosen route. However, once in the Himalayas, the coaching council decided that the team would participate in the ascent on equal terms.

Despite the fact that prior to the expedition, Soviet climbers had not ascended peaks higher than 7600 meters (the height of the highest peak in the USSR, Peak Communism, is 7495 meters), the ascent was made via a route on the southwest wall that had not been used by anyone before. This route was more complex than all the routes on Everest that had been passed before.

The expedition team established seven camps at various altitudes on Everest for the direct preparation of the ascent:

Base camp (21.03., 5340m) — slightly below the Khumbu Icefall

Intermediate camp (21.03, 6100m)

Camp 1 (22.03., 6500m)

Camp 2 (31.03., 7350m)

Camp 3 (12.04., 7850m)

Camp 4 (18.04., 8250m)

Assault camp (03.05., 8500m)

Eleven Soviet climbers managed to reach the summit of Everest, mostly in pairs. Some climbers reached the summit at night. Several athletes received injuries; later, one of them had four frostbitten phalanges on both hands amputated. The ascents were stopped due to severely deteriorating weather.

The ascent of eleven climbers to the summit of Everest without fatal cases was considered a success.

The climbers who reached the summit of Everest were:

Vladimir Balyberdin and Eduard Myslovsky on May 4, 1982

Sergey Bershov and Mikhail Turkevich on the night of May 4-5, 1982

Valentin Ivanov and Sergey Efimov on May 5, 1982

Kazbek Valiev and Valery Khristchaty on the night of May 7-8, 1982

Valery Khomutov, Vladimir Puchkov, and Yuri Golodov on May 9, 1982

After the ascent: After the ascentall participants of the expedition were awarded the title of Honored Masters of Sports. At the time of the ascent, seven out of eleven members of the expedition were already champions of the USSR in mountaineering, including all three Almaty residents who were two-time champions, and Ural resident Sergey Efimov, who was a three-time champion.

On December 20, 1982, a special postal block (CFA [AO “Marka”] No. 5356) was issued in the USSR with a circulation of 800,000 copies. The work of Yu. Levinovsky, it featured the State Flag of the USSR, a scheme of the route of the First Soviet Himalayan Expedition, Soviet climbers making the ascent, and a commemorative text.

As of the early 2010s, the route of the expedition had not been passed by any other climber.

In the future, some of those who failed to conquer Everest during this expedition were able to reach the summit. However, it remained unconquered for Vyacheslav Onishchenko, Vladimir Shoppin, Sergey Chepchev, and Alexey Moskaltsov.


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