Adilet Imambekov died on Khan Tengri in his tent, I learned today.
I met him through the Harvard Mountaineering Club when he was a physics graduate student and I was an undergraduate. His ambition and willingness to share his mountaineering skills with the rest of us made the club a livelier place those years.
I will miss him whenever I think of top-roping at Quincy Quarries (he’d climb in mountaineering boots for training), a long sub-freezing vigil he and I once held at the top of Huntington Ravine waiting for George and Chris, and our expedition in Kyrgyzstan. During that expedition he and George put up the crown jewel route on a peak they eventually named Peak of Theoretical Physics. It was all we could do to stop Adilet from naming it for an obscure Russian textbook of quantum mechanics.
His parents, older brother, and younger sister hosted us seven Americans on our way through Almaty toward Kyrgyzstan. They met us at the airport in two cars, strapped our overpacked luggage to the roof and ran a shuttle service from the airport to their home from midnight until 3am or so. There they served us a feast I’ll never forget. Even braver, they allowed us to stay there again after three weeks of expedition living.
Later he became a physics professor at Rice University and had two children with his wife. I hope Adilet’s strength is with them now and I wish he was with us still.