On August 8 the world celebrates International Day of Alpinizm or Mountaineering Day. It is a holiday, that knows no boundaries, uniting all people with a strong spirit.
Climbers have been celebrating this day since August 8, 1786, when the traveling physician Michel-Gabriel Packard, with local hunter and mountain guide Jacques Balma, conquered the highest peak of the Alps, Mont Blanc.
In Turkmenistan, the mountaineering movement has been created since Soviet times. Having large mountain landscapes on its territory, it was impossible to ignore alpinizm. Nature has particularly endowed with its mountain beauty the Akhal, Balkan and Lebap velayats. It also important to highlight the Kopetdag mountain range, “Bolshoi Balkhan” – the mountain system in the Karakum desert, “Mount Syunt”, “Lunny mountains” and, of course, the Kugitan mountains, among which is the highest peak of Turkmenistan – “Airi Baba” (3,137m.).
The climbers of Turkmenistan have conquered quite a few world-famous peaks, such as: Big Ararat, Lenin Peak (Pamir), Demovand, Elbrus, Khan Tengri peak of seven thousand meters, etc.
Almost from the very beginning of Turkmenistan’s independence, the “Agama” Alpclub has been operating, which to present time is actively involved in the development of mountaineering. For many years, climbers of Turkmenistan traditionally climbed Mount “Airi Baba” in the celebration of the National Flag Day of Turkmenistan. Also, climbers hoisted the flag of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games Games (2017, Turkmenistan) at the highest peak of the country.
The mountaineering movement is constantly gaining popularity among the people, especially among young ones. Roots of organized mountaineering is also expanding. Thus, the second public organization in Turkmenistan Alpclub “Mert” was created (2017).Moreover, it cooperates with the Alpclub “Agama”, which is also engaged in popularizing mountaineering and rock climbing in Turkmenistan.
Aside from popularizin, alpine clubs, together with the Center for Emergency Management under the Ministry of Defense of Turkmenistan, conduct exercises and events to provide the necessary assistance to victims and those in need of assistance in the mountains.
Recently, sport climbing has become a popular sport all over the world, which is why the Organizing Committee of the Paris-2024 Games has chosen rock climbing as an additional discipline. In the decision, which will be taken in December, the priority will be given to the new discipline – rock climbing for inclusion in the program if only there will be appropriate sports facilities. For reference, a climbing wall in Tokyo for the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics, pushed back to 2021, has already been built. Therefore, our climbers have a chance to test themselves at the upcoming Olympic Games and develop this sport at the state level.
Important to mention, Alpclub “Agama” and “Mert” work with socially vulnerable segments of the population and care for nature.
For the last 5 – 7 years, in the spring, Alpclubs have been cleaning gorges and removing garbage, but the main thing is that they are actively working with almost every group of outdoor tourists, and having conversation about the importance of keeping nature clean.
To increase the water balance in the gorges of the Big Balkhan, which is lacking of water and vegetation, the alpine club “Mert” builds catchments from weak springs and seasonal precipitation, which are actively used for recreation, serves for irrigation of animals planted near trees, and fulfill watering places for animals.
In October 2015, the Kopetdag stadium in Ashgabat hosted a festive and sports event “Million voices”, which was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. At the event, the Mountaineering club “Agama” prepared a mobile wall-simulator, where everyone could try themselves as a climber. Among those who climbed the wall – simulator were people with disabilities, who got an unforgettable experience and passion for mountaineering. This action prompted the Alpclub to organize a Festival of adapted rock climbing for people with disabilities. Thus, the international day of the “Belaya trost” (White cane) was first held by members of the society of the blind and deaf of Turkmenistan in October 2017 on the basis of the Mountaineering club “Agama”. There was an event for people with disabilities, which was attended by more than forty people with disabilities. Since then, the climbing festival “Belaya trost” is held annually on the basis of Alpine Clubs in Ashgabat and Balkanabad.
For this civic initiative, Valery Kotvin, Chairman of the “Agama” Alpclub, was awarded as a winner of the “Level Up Prize” competition in 2018, which was held in Almaty as part of the IX International conference “Insights into Development.”
In 2018, the Agama Alpclub celebrated its 25th anniversary, and to the present day it has about 150 active members.
The InAshgabat website sincerely congratulates climbers, employees of the “Agama” and “Mert” Alpine Clubs, and all mountaineering enthusiasts with such a wonderful holiday-the International Day of Alpinism. We wish you great optimism and the conquest of new peaks!