Fanskie mountains - second speedy Championship of Mountaineering.
In a memory of those, whose souls remains to fly not visually in a silence of Mountain's Grandeur.
It's already more then five years I have the same nightmare. I can not stop it and awake beforehand. It's 700 meters of almost vertical, smooth rock of West face of Zamin-Karor group South-West summit (3910 m), which is situated in the heart of Gissarskiy range in Fanskie mountains. There is a huge cornice in upper part of this face with a form like a head of giant eagle. My brother is climbing up over its beak, and I make a belay. We take part in Championship of rope-teams in rock climbing class, after a success in Technical Championship in Fanskie mountains. We are in a hurry to make this face in one day. It is very difficult climbing, using "sky-hooks", one of which with a sound "dzin", cuts the edge of stone, where it fixed on. And then I see my brother falling down near to me head side down, and it is seems to me, that he makes me an eye blink. It's 30 meters fall, sharp movement and stroke. My left thumb sinew is broken from the strain effort to stop his fall. I close my eyes and wait for heavens, as it makes no sense to rush - the only stopper of the lasts number, he made for a belay can not stand this deep dramatical fall. It is a pity my mother will loose both suns and my own two suns will loose their papa.. So, it is a time to open eyes. I see a darkness of night in my Moscow apartment. My head is in a cold sweat. Again I fall down from my bed.The rest of my nightmare is shown to me in a darkness. I see my brother slowly coming up upon the fixed rope to the small shelf where I stand. I see again his completely broken face, but I don't believe to my eyes: his eyebrow, nose, up jam are smashed inside the head and I can not recognize him at all. He is trying to smile. It is good idea he had no any brain, otherwise he could have its concussion (joke). My wife can not understand what is happening with me, that during so much time I suddenly jump up in the night and fall down to the floor. I am still grateful for the doctor, who made two unique operations without any money for my brother. He could be professor, but became for us very good friend. My nightmare is coming to the end, flying up in the rescue helicopter over the mountains of Pamiro-Alai. In endless mountains, that are fill in all horizon around, I am looking for the region of Fanskie Mountains, where this season we made a lot of climbing. And further to east, I can imagine to see Turkestanskiy range with the grandeur of Aksu and Asan-Usen regions, that this article is dedicated from the climbers point of view who made with me the best routes of these regions during a few seasons in only 15 days long.
Fanskie Mountains, or simply Fany in short - it's over one hundred beautiful mountains, with more then ten of which have the altitude above 5.000 meters and faces more then 1.500 meters in high. This region is situated in south-west part of Pamiro-Alai between Gissarskiy and Zeravshanskiy ranges, that respectively to be translated mean "The fortress" and "Carring the gold". It is this region where still now there are a lot of golden mines. Among the prestige for mountain climbing peaks such as Chapdara (5050 m), Bodkhona (5138 m), Zamok (5070 m), Maria (4970 m), Mirali (5120 m) and Zindon (4800 m) should be mentioned, which have vertical rock faces splendid for free climbing with usually many good clings for fingers. The highest point of the region is Mt. Chimtarga (5487 m) with both easy and extra class routes along the south and western faces. The climate as usual rather dry with a lot of sunny days. But this region is also rich with a lot of streams, rivers and lakes.
Fany - are destroying mountains. There is no any snow on the summits, but very often only small or middle sand like in a desert. The traveling is more comfortable in a light trekking shoes. The region is ideal for long days trekking. Coming from one gorge to another, from one beautiful lake to another not less one, near to countless vertical rock bastions with sometimes hanging glaciers on, the world around is perceiving as some thing not real. The only thing of neighed donkey prevents to sleep good in the down valleys reminding you a civilization, whom you prepare for small stones to throw to and get away from your tent.
(In the foto to the right) You want to have shower?
So, it was 1991 - a year of the second "speedy" Championship in mountaineering in technical class, where our team took part in. And if the season before in the Caucasus our climbing style was like a shot gun without night spend, now in Fany - it's endless and breakless movement, because of absence specially regulated day off for the rest between two serious climbing, that was unusual for common Russian climbing rules. We were coming here without tents and spent night where it reached you in the route. It was 15 days of completely breackless climbing, and during this time we have been in all parts of Fany that are interested to be visited.
Last year this "speedy" formula was used the first time. We did no know what we were able for, how many mountains we are managed to climb on, when we will be "wrecked". And it was a kind of creative work. Now we more or less know that we have almost no limit. Now it is only very hard work on the edge or even beyond the limit.
All these events are already behind. That 15 days have passed, all tiredness and offenses, all disputes and self sure in our powerendless, all argues with referees have passed. And only mountains are remains to be. Only 8 extra class routes climbed within 15 days left. Only our team and team from Sverdlovsk town could managed to do this from more then 10 teams, that climbed only 5-6 routes. It was the fate that we are second, but now it is not important anymore, as it's already the history.
(In the foto to the right) The mystery of Mt. Chapdara North-Western face in the sun set.
We made our camp like all camps around in this region, not far from picturesque deep blue colour Alaudinskie lakes. There is beautiful gorge of Chapdara stream coming up from this place with huge majestic rock bastions rising up in both sides along. The North-West 1500 meters high face of Mt. Chapdara (5050 m) opens this vertical gallery with unusual red stones colour during the sunset. There is a giant sculpture of 500 meters Sphinx easily seen in its left side with the heaven as a background, where along the northern crest the classical 5 A degree route comes up. There is another massif of Adamtash group ("Stone man") stands in front of Chapdara mount on the back side of the gorge, with vertical bastion of its North-West face. The classical route (4 B) along the Northern crest comes up the top "looking" to our base camp. The only "problem" place is a narrow smooth rock edge, situated in the centre, where there are almost no any crags for belay and which is climbed only "in friction", that rather dangerous after a strong rains because of thin ice layer covered the stones. Let's come mentally further up along peculiar gorge's corridor. After two hours walk this way comes to Mutnie (Turbid) lake, situated in circle between West slope of Zamok and east slope of Chimtarga with the Kaznok pass between them to the south, coming to South part of Fanskie mountains not less beautiful but rather rear visited. There are one after another floating up in the left side first Bodkhona vertical bastions and further Zamok group during the way up to this lake seen from last two black colour slopes before. Zamok ("the Castle") group is rock bastions with vertical West, North-West and
North faces, where routes of 5-th and 6-th dif. degree come up. But there is very easy route from the lake side, usually used for the descent, that comes to the top as a trekking without any problems, to say nothing about high altitude. Now during the time of Championship, we never use this trekking to Mutnie lake up, but only for descent, as we climbed up over the mountains.
(In the foto to the right) Normal climbing in Fanskie Mountains.
So, our first route in competition is along South-East face of Chapdara (6A). It begins from the gorge beneath the base camp aside. This 1500 meters rather smooth almost vertical face is a kind of the gate to all this region, being the first huge rock bastion seen in all its grandeur fascinate the souls of the climbers, who come to Fany region by car after 12-14 hours crazy drive along the endless serpanthin of mountain "high way", cut out in stones along the drops of hundreds meters deep, but not for them who made a helicopter flight from Dushanbe or Samarkand town to get to this region.
We are full of life and energy, and in 6 p.m. begin to make descent from the top. There is only a few hours of light time left. We are in a hurry but not sure could we manage to be down in a time? The darkness already falls down as we are coming, hardly moving our foot, angry, tired and hungry the whole hour up the gorge along the moraine to the bivouac near to our next route to Bodkhona (5138 m) tat means "House of wind".
(In the foto to the right) Mt. Bodkhona from North side.
We have fixed exit in 10 o'clock in the next morning. It's getting light but very difficult to wake up. The sun is nearly to touch our tent. There are a lot of people around here except for us. Here is a coach of Dnepr team - our opponent. Oh, here his team is coming down from Bodkhona climbing along us, gave us a respect with short "Hi!" We find out that they will have a few hours rest and then come to the next route. "Let's see how they can manage to do this!" It's hard job to start the route too late. The sun is already light the glacier, that we are coming on and makes our eyes blind. It's getting more and more steep and finally the face is rising up vertically. Here we are! OK, let's do it! Step by step we are speed up the climbing. There are some clouds beneath us and get closed the mountain around. The fog cover is stealing to us and it's soft wet snow comes. Everything is getting dark and even black beneath us near to Alaudinskie lakes, where there is a thunder storm.
I wonder when it will get finished? The wet snow is filling in all around and I begin to get wet and shiver with cold. But still I should climb and after a signal I run one rope after another, having a kind of "no way out" pressure on my psychology.
I make a connection with our coach by radio, who we name with great respect Stepanych. I try to say with brave voice, but he feels how we are getting on here. "It's getting rain here with "cats and dogs", - he says with excuse. "It's getting snow", - I gave him an answer. We understand each other.
We have to stop under a huge cornice, where there is no snow fall. Standing without a movement in order not to feel completely wet t-short sticking to the back. I calm down myself with an idea that sooner or later this will get finished. And as a time being, I remind some roses, that I have seen a lot in Dushanbe, Samarkand and every where in the Middle Asia. I fleshed up their smell in my mind, having an idea to move down my face with the charm of their petals in. I mentally stroked them with my already beaten fingers like a symbol of far splendid life. Everything will be find, there is no way to be worst so long time.
A disk of the sun, round shape covered with mist like frosted lamp, made its break through all chaos around and moved me back to reality. The mist was disappeared and I can guess the shape of Mt. Zamok' grandeur in front of us. Then the moraine beneath begins to show itself, like a black and white photo under the action of developer. We see the people coming down. It's Dnepr team who are not managed to come the next route they want. And normally who can ever go this weather climb up at all?
(In the foto to the right) Mt. Zamok North face.
And suddenly the sun goes the west almost warmless, burst into flame with a beam running start to us. This shine pouring us through a lot of holes in the clouds and we are grateful for this present drying and warming up. We have the time even to develop two ropes up and have a "cozy" bivouac in a small shelf for two beneath smooth vertical rock face which we will climb again on the next day. I am watching on a lot of stars in the heaven before to fall asleep with a dream of roses. This dream warmed my soul up all next day long. In the morning, when I fall down hanging the rope over the chasm before to wake up, when finally in the evening we get to the summit crest and came solo, when before the top I counted 60, then 50 and finally 30 steps between the rest feverish breathing in the air without oxygen, and even then when we get unplanned sleep during the descent, I was prepared myself and want this dream to be continued filling me up to change the reality.
We get down our bivouac in the morning like Dnepr team a few days before. And here we made up our mind to do the variant, that Dnepr team was unmanaged to follow, having the rest a few hours and getting start to the next route 1 p.m. I wonder how little man needs and what a miracle a sunshine makes with the people. It was enough for us to spend three hours to warm up, to feed on and to relax. We have the radio news, that two bottles of wine and water-melon are coming up to us with our friends. But it a pity that we have no time to wait. Only when we get finished to climb second rope of route they reached our bivouac. No chance for us to drop down. We only "licked our lips" in a silence with this "failure".
(In the foto to the right) Alaudinskie lakes.
The next day brought us the summit. Finished work on the face, we reached the quicksand after it, that I was watching from Bodkhona slope before with a kind of fever. It proved to be rather short and not steep, that we manage to get over the crest 30 minutes after. We arranged almost on the top, discussing our future plans with the breathtaking view around - a kind of the week-end session. We admire also with a view on Alaudinskie lakes. How many lakes are their? Who managed to count them up? Except for the biggest lake, there are a lot of small ones, even like puddles, with no chance to repeat play of colors and hues of deep heaven. Alaudinskie lakes - it's a region of dusty treks, sand and conglomeration of stones and suddenly - it's green trees, it's streams from the stones coming from nowhere to nowhere. No words! You should see it yourself!
It were our friends, who have been waiting for us in Mutnie lake, helping us to carry our sacks, and one hour after near to Piala lake it was water-melon for us like a miracle gulp of fresh water in a long time trip in a desert.
(In the foto to the right) Maria - Mirali grop North face.
Having next half day rest we are coming to Kulikolon parallel gorge. After 2 hour walk up the Alaudin pass, we hardly could escape the raining and thunder storming around. It was a dark haze of thunder hanging over Mt. Adamtash and further over Maria - Mirali group, with their North faces easily seen from this pass. There are a lot of 5 B dif. degree routes coming up these faces one after another along hanging glaciers almost in directisima. When we already came down, it was a thunder storm get the pass by. But we were lucky to get swim in cold beauty of Kulikolonskoe lake down the gorge.
We have again endless movement over verticals from one mountain to another. Deep wild dark gorge, black rocks around, gray moraine, gray mountain, gray sky above us - here we are climbing over half destroyed North-East face of Rudaki (4400 m) peak 5B route. There are a lot of melting water streams because of the morning sun, pouring us with a cold shower. The rock face beats us with stones fall. Small ones are coming like bullets with buzzing, huge ones with crash, making our souls to be in perturbation. I gave my not telescopic ski-poles to carry my friend, as they prevent me to climb first. It was again thunder storm on the top. Everything around were cheeping and buzzing because of electricity. I felt thousand of small sharp needles stinging me into my back. I saw corona discharge with magic light around. And here my friend is coming along the top crest, like "Prophet", caring my ski-poles inserted in his sack, which are sticking out and shinning with corona discharge of Santa Elm. He shouts to me: "Hey, men! Take off your trolley-bus!"
Getting the night in the previous day some where in the descent, we are coming now into direction of the North face of Zindon (4800 m) group in the same name left one gorge along the charming Allo lake, having the time to examine 800 meters vertical rock face with snow roof above - 6 A route. To be translated from the local, Zindon means "the Prison", and really a good mountain will never name with this word. The rock is composed of destroying structure were some times no chance to make a belay. Even a lot of years after I used to wake up in the night without the rest of nerve overstrain. It was overhanging inside corner in the center of the face, that I have to pass climbing first again, in spite all my fingers are torn in blood and have no time to heal. I continue to climb inclined crag, then again inside corner where me throwing out from, and finally smooth rock with a kind of deep hole in its center. I put my both hands inside this hole trying to fix me up, moving my arms further deep and feel ... not extinguished lime hearing a hiss with some pain of my fingers move their deep inside like into hydrogen peroxide.
Sooner or later, but everything is passed. Our "Prison" is also finished and here we are coming to the next our summit - West face of Chimtarga (6 A) -the highest point of this region, threatening us with overhanging summit bastion. The absence of good shelves for belay additionally makes this route more tension to climb. Here we are coming snow slope, then small rock crest and finally stretched against the wall with strained climbing. Only to the evening we managed to get to the center of the face, looking for a good place to sleep. Little by little it's getting dark. We see a light glance beneath in Mutnie lake - a signal for radio set.
- Hi, men. How are you getting on?
- It's OK, good, - I gave them an answer,- "a cozy night".
- It's only a summit bastion for you left to be climbed and then easy by crest to the summit.
Tomorrow this group will climb our route, marking the place where we spent a night before and told me after about my "cozy night" - "There is no any good place even normally to stand".
We managed to climb the last extreme part of overhanging rock bastion, and here we are on the summit crest coming up with a breathtaking view around, struggling with a hurricane wind, that is trying to blow us away. We see the sunset with the clouds here, there, everywhere. All this heaven chaos is moving orderless in the middle of us.
We are in a harry to get descent along snow slope of broken ice fall labyrinth, during the darkness covers and steals all forms around, until we realized that no chance to move and fell asleep in a snow.
The morning snow is firmed and hard to be stepped without crampons. "Well, men. We have a problem", I told to my friends, trying to make them moving more carefully. "We have only one pear of crampons for a group". So we tie up three ropes we have together and make deep descent, with the last climbing on crampons. First Andrew is coming, I am third one. By the time I came down to the end of the third rope, which is not seen from above because of the coloir makes a turn, I have the feeling that some thing is wrong. "Where is Andrew, by the way?" - I am glazing round in confused, as if he could play hide-and-seek game with us. I look mindless to the end of the rope without a stop knot and hardly understand that it is the reason he could fall down, feeling cold fever on my back. Here are trace steps from his boots, coming down from the end of the rope. I am even afraid to have a look down, where two rock belts with snow slope between totally not less then 400 meters high. I have no chance to see what is beyond the second rock belt and move down to look for, trying to find mentally a red bloody track somewhere on the snow, in order to have something that glance could catch on along the white slope, and wishing not to find it at all. It was a miracle, that he was alive even without any fractures. Here I can see him. He stands up and trying to move. "Easy, easy, my friend, wait for us! "
We manage to get down to Mutnie lake till the middle of day with the help of our friend, who made by radio our navigation around an endless ice fall. Having a breath with relaxation we are still get hurry up to be near to foot of Mt. Chapdara - the next our aim - before dawn, together with Andrew, who proved to be real Man.
It's early morning, and we are coming on crampons by the pre-face glacier. We are already get unused to crampons, climbing all mountains before only by rock, but step by step we get the movement speedy, climbing icy sheet up of North-West face 5 B route, to get the top and make a descent, having the time drop down the bottom of gorge to birch grove near to Piala lake. Here we met friends and have some food, eating up like boas.
(In the foto to the right) Mt. Adamtash, seen from Alaudinskie lakes.
Next morning again we are coming up to our next mountain - "Stone man" of Adamtash - our last route "in private" face to face along the center of vertical North-Western face - 6 A degree. The same day we spent our last night somewhere in the rock face, and tomorrow we need to finish it to be in time within 15 championship days. With the last power we have, we climb very difficult route, which time by time overhanging upon our heads. I feel a smell of burning stones. I hear again how music stones fall is. One like a bumble-bee, another like a sparrow, and third one like heavy artery. We climbed this route as being under fire.
Finally, we are lucky to get all successfully finished and now running down. Here are Alaudinskie lakes. We immerse our bodies into fresh water, which burning us with a cold, but seems as a new milk. Cold water takes away all our tiredness and even pain we have inside. It is all over. We have standing in front of shining gold in sunset the grandeur of Mt. Chapdara. I have been their three times during this season. And now everything is behind. What a pity. May be to climb Zamin-Karor before the break until the next season in Aksu region?