More DW Blogs DW.COM

Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Maxut’s new Everest is higher than 8848 m

Maxut Zhumayev

Maxut Zhumayev

“When I was approaching the highest point I saw Vassiliy sitting in the snow, ten meters away from the summit. I was very happy because my friend had waited for me”, said Maxut remembering his summit day on K 2 on 23 August 2011. “This was very special.” That day Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov completed their 8000er collection, ten years and ten days after they had climbed Gasherbrum I, their first 8000-meter-peak. The two Kazakh climbed 13 of the 14 eight-thousanders as a rope team, only on Manaslu they joined different expeditions. That is unique, says Maxut: “In the history of climbing we don’t have the same story that two climbers have reached so many 8000-meter-summits together.”

Hard job on K 2

Maxut and Vassiliy on the very last meters

Maxut and Vassiliy on the very last meters

I met the 37-year-old climber at the trade fair ISPO in Munich where there was a little reunion of the 2011 K 2 team: Maxut was talking to Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who had also summited the second highest mountain of the world, her last 8000er that was missing, and to her husband Ralf Dujmovits, who belonged to the team, but had not joined the final summit push. “K 2 was really hard”, said Maxut. “It was my sixth and Vassiliy’s seventh attempt.” Zhumayev had climbed the other 8000ers on his first try. He never used bottled oxygen.

From below to the top

Maxut, born in the steppe in the west of Kazakhstan, became a climber fairly late: “I started climbing when I was 20 years old. I was working like a Sherpa, as a porter. I carried some luggage for a trekking group from France.” In this group he met some guys who did climbing as a sport. “I am happy that I touched this philosophy, this way of life. That’s the reason why I am still in the mountains and why I have been climbing until now.” Like his friend Vassiliy Pivtsov, Zhumayev earns his living as a lieutenant of the Kazakh army.

Founder of Kazakh Alpine Club

Zhumayev on Mount Everest

Zhumayev on Mount Everest in 2007

After having finished the 8000ers, Maxut had to cross a mental valley. “It took me about a year to find my new dreams and new goals.” At the beginning of 2013 Zhumayev founded the Kazakh Alpine Club. He wants to change the attitude of his compatriots to the mountains: “It’s a philosophy how to live inside nature. For me nature is not a toy, but my home.” Maxut knows that it will not be possible overnight to establish structures like those of Western Alpine clubs in Kazakhstan and to spread his mountain philosophy: “That is my new Everest. Its altitude is more than 8848 meters, because my life is not long enough for developing this project.”

No more dangerous climbs

Taking responsibility for his wife, his four-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, Maxut is staying well clear of dangerous climbs. Zhumayev wants to complete the Seven Summits, the highest peaks of all continents. Having already climbed Mount Everest (Asia) and Kilimanjaro (Africa) he plans to add the ascent of Denali (North America) in May, Aconcagua (South America) in autumn and then – if he is able to find sponsors – Mount Vincent (Antarctica).


6. February 2014 | 15:14