In an expedition far removed from the ramparts of Tartu's Toome Hill and its Old Observatory, a team of mountaineers is planning a reconquest of two remote, 6,000-meter peaks named after the University of Tartu and a noted 19th century scholar.
The expedition will repeat the first-ever ascent of the two peaks - in the Central Pamirs in Tajikistan - made by Estonians 30 years ago.
Mt. Tartu University rises 6,350 meters above sea level while Mt. J.F. Parrot measures 6,277 meters.
Estonians have not been back since 1982 when the original climbs were made to mark the university's 350th anniversary.
The 10-member group of Tartu and Tallinn mountaineers will be led by Andrus Hiiemägi, who said the trip will be complicated and relatively hazardous as it involves technical climbing, glacier crossings and travel along a knife-edge ridge. The area is remote and rescue, if needed, would be by Tajik military helicopter and could take days, he said. "Most of the trip will take place above 5,000 meters, but the summits are a kilometer higher, so the altitude factor will also play a limiting role," he told uudised.err.ee.
The trip will be undertaken without any porters or other local support, and there is no existing hardware installed on the mountains.
Among the supplies the group is planning to take on the 37-day trip will be the university flag, a traditional cap and a signet ring, to be left on top of Mt. Tartu. To prepare for the trip, the men trained along the limestone cliffs on the coast of Estonia, took part in mountaineering competitions and attended first aid and avalanche safety courses. "We also studied the trip reports [and] maps from the area," he said, although much of the information is dated. The trip is being largely sponsored by the University.