(In the foto to the right) Cliff Kush-Kaya.
Crimea (map) is a small peninsula that extends into the Black Sea, in the area with the most beautiful and most popular practice climbs in Russia. The mountains can be reached in two-four hours by car from the Simferopol airport. The most famous faces are those in the Forosskiy Kant, the left-hand part of Mt. Mshat-Kaya, which rise up over the village of Foros; here there are a dozen "classical" routes rated 5 and 6. Among the most well-known are the Semi-orka (Seven), the Kant po Kantu (Edge of the Crest), the Rizhiy Ugol (Red Corner), the Pra-viy Romb (Right-hand Rhombus) and the LeviyRomb (Left-hand Rhombus). Separated from the Forosskiy Kant by the Bay-darskie Vorota pass, is the Kilse-Burun face (662 m), which has shorter but more difficult routes including parts that require the use of ladders. The descent from Forosskiy Kant and Kilse-Burun winds down a path amongst juniper bushes and then on to the road that descends through the pass, going by the enchanting Uspenskiy (Ascension) Monastery. Even in the coldest winter days the peculiar microclimate in this region makes for pleasant climbing up Mt. Kush-Kaya (Mountain of the Birds, 664 m), which is situated in the isolated Batilman valley, on Laspi Bay. You can get there by means of the Sevastopol-Yalta road. The routes here include all the difficulty rating categories. The easiest, most panoramic descent winds down to Laspi Bay. The Crimea mountain chain is closed off towards the sea by Cape Aya (558 m), which has the tallest wall in the entire region and 500-meter routes. It is an hour's walk from the bivouacs under Mt. Kush-Kaya.

The Leviy Romb Route (6). This is the most beautiful route in the Crimea. It becomes increasingly complex as you go along and is on the whole unspoiled; in order to keep it this way, be sure to use expansion bolts only for protection. The first part of this route is actually an approach. Go for sixty meters up a 2-or 3-rated incline and from here you can cross easily to the left and, once on top, go towards a little fissure along which you must climb up for about fifteen meters (4-5) under a roof. This roof must be climbed directly. Once over it, continue up the slab (5) and the dihedral till you come to a large ledge. This is the starting point of the actual route. A 6-rated dihedral (called the "soap dihedral") leads to another ledge. From here, go up vertically along a crack (25 m, 90° incline, rated 6), and then along another dihedral that takes you to a little niche under the overhang. Go a-round this to the left and you will come to a cave; from here, a last 25-meter pitch will take you to the upper plateau, Jaila. Along the descent you will find the Bayadraskie restaurant, a traditional stopping place for supper.

To be continued...