Abalakov was born in Yeniseysk. He is noted for making the first ascent of the highest point of the Soviet Union - Stalin Peak (later renamed) (7495 m) on September 3, 1933 as a member of the 26th detachment of the Tajik-PamirSovnarkom expedition. At the beginning of the German-Soviet War Abalakov went to the front. In the spring of 1948 Abalakov died in Moscow, in obscure circumstances, while preparing for the ascent to the Victory Peak. His brother, Vitaly Abalakov, was also a famous alpinist.