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 Lev Sarkisov

On May 12, 1999, Lev Sarkisov (2/12/38) became the oldest man to summit Everest. He climbed Everest in the morning and stayed at the summit for approx. 1 hour. He descended to the South Col at 1600 hrs. on the same day. He was part of the Caucasus Everest Expedition 1999 organized by Asian-Trekking.

[Update: Spring 2000, a climber has broken Lev's record to become the oldest to Summit Everest !]

Lev Sarkisov is one of those very strong climbers few know about in the US that we love to report on. Lev Sarkisov, started to climb in 1962. Hopefully, many of you know from the RISK web site, that in former USSR and Russia mountain climbing is a sport with championships and cups. In his 37 years of climbing Lev received all existing champion titles according to our sources. He reached all 7000 m peaks in former USSR and got the title of Ounce of snow, a very famous title in Russia. In his climbing he always had priority of reaching technically hardest routes. A lot of first ascents and first passing in mountains of Caucasus, Pamir and Tyan-Shan.

Since 1975 until 1991, he was a coach of Caucasus club. All Georgian climbers trying to reach this spring summit from the both sides of Everest was his pupils at one time or another.

Presently Lev is member of Alpindustria club. He is doing high-altitude guiding jobs not just because to keep him self in climbing shape  but also to support his family.

The last few years he climbed Pick of Victory (Pobeda) in Pamir, McKinley and support climbing of Mt. Kazbeck (5047 m) with 5 handicaps young men.

Do to the week economy conditions in Georgia, this was his first attempt to climb a Himalayan mountain.

Lev is an ethnic Armenian from Georgia, who has become the oldest person to summit Everest beating the record of Spaniard Ramon Blanco who reached the summit when he was 60 years, 160 days old in 1993. Congratulations to Lev and his family !

This is Lev Sarkisov's Q&A, with pictures at the end.

Q.) First Lev, we must tell you Everest News has heard many good things about you from climbers on the mountain and your friends in Georgia. As we understand it, you have been a mountain guide for many years. How did all these years of experience prepare you for Everest ?

  • A.) Thank you for good words. Many of climbers themselves are praiseworthy.

    I am climbing about 40 years, 30 years I use to coach military climbers team. This experience did help me with technical and tactic problems on Everest.

    Q.) Was Everest what you expected ?

    A.) I had lots of information about Everest from books and climbers. So it was not nothing unexpected.

    I was just too concentrate on my health. I mean, I was fine. I just did not know, how my 60 years old body will react on high altitude of this mountain. I was worry, that, if I will feel bad, all expedition will be canceled. Our team members never leave each other alone during climbing. I did not want for them to spend their time and power taking care on me. Hopefully, I did feel my self strong and healthy and even did reach summit earlier, than much more younger climbers.

    Q.) How do you compare climbing a mountain of the size of Everest with other mountains you have climbed ?

    A.) I did climb all 7000 and higher mountains in former USSR, few of them by most difficult ways. This extra 1000 meters to climb on Everest was not very easy, but in same time can not be compared with extra difficulty of this other mountains.

    Q.) Did the Everest number of climbers bother you ?

    A.) Absolutely not. We did made lots a friends from whole the World.

    Q.) What do you think about all the use of Sherpa and fixed ropes ?

    A.) Undoubtedly this was not real sportive climbing. If our team could do it ourselves, we would be more satisfied. But this is too selfish. Hundreds of people will loose their chance to reach highest point of the World without help of Sherpas. Also this helps to make economy of time, human and financial resources.

    Q.) Tell us about your summit day, we know some climbers turned around. How was the weather and conditions?

    A.) We had information that May, 12 wind should be down. It was truth. Night 11-12 of May was wind, but since morning wind was not as strong. Weather was just perfect. One difficulty we had, as climbing one of first, we did step on very deep snow. This did slow down our speed little bit. On the summit crest I had strong filling, that can reach summit successfully.

    Q.) Was Summit day harder or easier than you expected? tell us about how it felt.

    A.) Easier for sure. This time on the summit we were so busy picturing each other, recording our greetings to people of Georgia and Armenia. I did open medallion with pictures of my two grand daughters and did send my happy thoughts to my family. It was a joy. I did take oxygen mask off and goggles too and fill my self great.

    Q.) Was coming down hard ?

    A.) Coming down was danger till 8 000 meters. Lots place to expect accidental falls, no ropes. I did take my goggles off on the top. I felt discomfort wearing them. I did pay for this by temporary blindness. Actually I did come down on voice of my team members. After 8 000 meters point no problems at all.

    Q.) How did it feel to be back in Base camp ?

    A.) Just in 3rd day after coming back I start to feel, that everything is over. Great satisfaction and happiness.

    Q.) What is next for Lev ?

    A.) Right after we was back at Base Camp we start to make future plans. Our desires are to finish 7 summits and to climb K2. So... If we will have sponsors again, we will have whole World. 

    Thank you too. Your site was very helpful for my family. Best regards from Georgia. Welcome to Caucasus mounts.

    Lev Sarkisov

    Little about pictures.

    Summit 1

    Beno Kashakashvili and Chewang Dorjee Sherpa on the summit (yellow mattress was left by Babu Sherpa after his night on the summit).

    Summit 2

    Afi Gigani, Bidzina Gujabidze and Lev Sarkisov (look at his burned eyes) on the summit holding Georgian, Azerbajanian and Armenian flags.

    Summit 3

    Few first minutes on the summit. Lev is holding medallion with granddaughters pictures.

    Summit 4

    First time Armenian flag on the top of World.

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