"The northern side of Mt. Shkhara (5068 m) is a large wall which, because of the great danger of avalanches and ice-falls, has only a few routes to climb. Most part of them have been climbed once by first rope team. But the middle of the face had never been climbed.
For years long I had dreamt of climbing this wall myself. I decided to do so in 1988. I chose winter, December, when there is less risk of avalanches. I brought a friend with me to help me to carry the equipment and watch my ascent.
We spent an entire day just studding the face, trying to find the best and least dangerous route to take. The face remained silent: there were no avalanches, as if it were saving them all for me when I made the climb. It was very cold. There was a lot of snow on the Bezengi glacier, but very little on the face itself - only blue ice, and several towers of ice around the route I had decided to take. The following morning I took only two ice hammer with me, a light 8 mm rope, a snow shovel, a camp stove, a little food and nothing else. I set off long before daybreak.
The moon light and then bright red-yellow colour of the face has really fascinate my soul, so I felt my best. The winter ice was very hard, the same type I had come across the preceding summer in the Himalayas - Kanchendganga Mt., so I was not unprepared for it.
I heard a rumble down below, in the first part of the route: it was a large fall exactly where I had been climbing a few minutes earlier. I stopped, hesitated; I thought that perhaps it would be better to go back, but I was afraid of another slide. And then, was I going to give up after so much dreaming of? This though gave me courage. I imagined being extraneous to this scene, observing myself while I slowly worked my way up the ice like a solo ballet dancer. There was no one near me, only my tiny tent deep down below with my friend who was watching me. I continued my climb, trying to move up as fast as I could.
Halfway up the face I decided to change direction, moving slightly to the right, because a large ice tower was looming above, right over my head. I got a feeling of danger. My God, was I lucky! Naturally, due to the blows of the hammer on the ice, the tower, though it had not been touched, began to crumble down, sweeping over the route I had decided not to take. The entire face was covered with powder snow. I was also enveloped in this white dust and was unable to see anything for about ten minutes.
Finally I caught a glimpse of the top. I almost began to run up the steep ice, a 50 - 60 incline, and the air I was breathing was so cold I felt my insides freezing. At two in the afternoon I had made it to the top; I had managed to climb up the entire difference in height of 1,600 meters in about twelve hours! I took the classical descent , the north-eastern ridge opened by J.G. Cockin, U. Almer and K. Ross. A strong South-west wind began to blow, and at time it seemed it wanted to blow me off the ridge.
It was already dark when I arrived at the camp, and my friend's faint torch light guided me. I drank some hot tea and, exhausted, fell asleep. I was happy to have realised my dream and above all to be alive. It was one of my greatest ascent."
P.S. I remember his shining purposeful eyes with a web of wrinkles in its corners on dark face, when he told me these few words about climbing events on Mt.Shkhara. It was summer 1993. Last winter he already felt down in the same place with the same partner in Ushba icefall and had bad injury of skull foot fracture. Inspite this reason, he took part in summer Alpine style expedition on South face of Anapurna but he could not manage to inquire the high altitude and tense after previous winter eccident. Now he has new passion of paraplaine flight from mountains. And it is my pleasure to him to reach success.
But mountains are still mountains full of danger and death even among your friends. One week after I had my last meeting with him, he fell down injured second time of his skull foot fracture. Obviously his soul prefer to get move to the heaven, flying in freadom over mountains which he was fond of, living his completely ruined body.