To my friends with whom I used to climb mountains, to my dear brother, to my teacher - coach Mr. Alexander S. Demchenko, who learned us to be alive and to my love this artical is dedicated...
Beneath the Ushba slopes we coming discent to our tents and more down to "Georgian" camping place, where our friends are living. We carry them some food to eat. They take part in mountaineering first championship of Soviet Union according to a new formula: to climb as much extra class routs with special rating breakless during 20 day. And it does not matter if it's raining or comes snowfall, when you cross this edge, and you can't stop flying time asking to wait for good weather or rest, as you can't stop an arrow sent from a bow, stretching endlessly the string before. They have climbed already seven mountains. Each mountain used to be a kind of sacred ones, long time before it has been climbed during not one day, may be a week and rewarded with a gold or at the least silver prize in previous championship. And now all of them climbed one after another during one day time, most part in free style rope less. But let them speak about themselves. My friend, maestro of sport, Sergey Bondarenko reminds:
"Today we are coming to the last mountain of this dramatical championship. How far this ascent looks yet when we climbed on Dzhajlyk, Tiutiu, Donguz. And even when we came to this region: Shchurovskiy, Shkhelda, Ushba, again Shkhelda from south side. It is seems this races over vertical, each day climbing or trekking from one valley to another, straggle with the weather, rains, snow, thunderstorms, eternal care for warm wet things - all these are endless. That time without fleece, gore-tex, even sometimes without good equipment we have been climbing best routs.
It was our fate, our experienced feeling five days before, that we came here beneath Ushba steps, but not to Chatin "Rhombus", which extra high rating this time is black covered with badly faint glory of last tragedy, which took place during our absence on the most logical and classical rout by the chimneys of North face of Chatin "Rhombus" 500 meters high, first climbed by L. Myshliaev (6A).
The route comes along the centre across the system of vertical chimneys (Down, Middle, Up each about 100 m long), which united with a system of crags and smooth vertical rock walls with totally 82 incline. Pouring down melting water over the rocks, it presents to climbers with cold shower. And we could share a fate of those, who are still hanging on the ropes in the centre of "Rhombus". One of them has fallen down to the tent of our rescue team men, marking a red trace on the white snow. Two died being frozen on the ropes, could not stretch to fix themselves on the rock. Only next year they manage to move them down. It was the rout we have been thinking of, but the last moment refused for Ushba.
We are feeling lost, as all our team came to rescue and nobody brings us some food from Shkhelda valley "German bivouac". Only two brothers, after they climbed Ushba, have carried us the rest they have, do not eating themselves. Well, it is a time to finish this competition. We are coming today to the East face of South Ushba rising up in front of us, overhanging with so called "Pillar". And over this "Pillar" right down left up side is coming not wide split that we have to climb. It is route of L. Myshliaev (6A). Today we should be over there. Could we manage to climb "Pillar"? We are coming over the glacier, then by steep ice slope. Six men each in his own style, we are climbing little bit tired and completely hungry. The sun light touch only the top of mountains. Still it is a good temp we have.
Oh, what a nice meeting we bumped with! Our friends from Georgia are living here, trying to develop right side of "Pillar" - most prestige Ushba's rout of A. Kustovskiy (6B). How hospitable they are! "Here is a hot tea, help your self. Have a meat, please", - they invite us. "No, no need. Thank you", - we say, but can't refuse from canned meat, tea, fresh nice smell bread. Full unreality. It is only in my great Russia with a deep mystery of our souls could be...
We get a glance on our further rout - there are two men coming down. This rope team climbed yesterday our rout and now descent. Why? Here they are very near top us. Oh, we know them as good climbers. "Hey, get out from "dulfer". There is "alive rock slab", - they shout to us. But we don't know yet, that this "alive slab" belongs in future to us. They tell us, how they have spent a night in the end of this crack in the shower of small waterfall, but could not climb up. They are down, we are up. Good luck! First is our leader - Shura Sheynov. "It is "alive slab", take care",- he shouted down to us. Then my turn. I have passed, stand and deeply breath. Next... Suddenly I hear a crash. It is bad crash of falling stones and I am afraid to get a look beneath. Here is Sasha, hanging on the rope, completely bent and doesn't get a move. He took this slab on himself. Well, it is the edge, that our championship could be finished. Well, he's alive! Slow, very slow, obviously feeling pain of hurt lag, he makes ascent by fixed rope to small shelf where we stand. OK. The lag is not broken, but badly hurts. We are short in words - "Take a medicine, use some painless drug. Where will we go? Think it over!" He answer with a short moan - "Up", and only tears are shining in angles of his eyes in spite of his curve smile.
We have climbed this "Pillar", then ice slope, rock belt and ice slope again and stand for a night, prepare developed two ropes for tomorrow. Tomorrow the summit and through North Ushba - we make a descent, we are coming home!
Steep ice edge like a "knife", two dulfers and I am on the "Pillow". It's done, all way further - easy "on food". I take off my sack and look at my three friends how they make this final descent from Ushba. It's like a cinema. One of them, which stands up, is gonna to unfix ropes, drop them down and climb carefully down. It is a wet hard snow. I feel a danger myself even before somebody shout: "Avalanche!" It is a small avalanch coming down with a rustling sound, missing our two men - Shura Sheynov and Sasha, who comes in "compleat auto-pilot" after yesterday's fall with a slab. Suddenly Shura is rushing up, trying to be safe under bergschrund. I move my eyes up and.. Here it is. The second avalanche is coming directly on them. They are covered by a snow mist, they are trying to stand - no chance. Shura falls up side down, Sasha falls after him. He is not fixed with a rope. Turbulent snow stream falls down to chasm, living two bodies liing on snow. It was Sasha's ice hummer, which turn around the Shura's lag digging into it with a beak, that prevents him to fall down. They hang on the rope in this position, as only by chance Shura did not unfix himself from a rope. They are moving, like just from Niagara waterfall. Sasha hurts both Shura's knees with his crampons in this snow Hell. He moves slowly, limping on both lags, obviously feeling bad pain. His blood is colouring white snow, which is shining on the sun. We need more carefully pass throw Ushba icefall. We must be alive after a descent. Otherwise what was the reason we have been climbing 20 days for?"
"We are coming down along icefall, looking for the safety way through this enchanted labyrinth of ice crevasses and seracs. Finally it's "German bivouac" - like my native home. We have been here a week ago and now finally get back."
"We did two most prestige routes of Shkhelda valley during championship climbing. It was Shchurovskiy peak along the "Pillar" of North face (M. Khergiany rout, 5B) and Shkhelda by the triangle rock "mirror" of North face (B. Subartovich rout, 6A).
A giant pyramid of Shchurovskiy peak becomes visible for us by the time the morning mist is disappeared when we climbing 400 meters ice slope up stretched in a line along it, rushing to the food of very steep "pillar". Vertical crags are rising up and reminds me a relief of Petit Dru' American direct, which I climb later but even more steep.
The same tense climbing, the same kind of rock. Gigantic "teeth" of Shkhelda are shining and playing in morning sun light behind us, breaking down to Shkhelda glacier with vertical rock face and steep hanging ice falls. The classical rout on East Shkhelda is good seen in all its grandeur along wide north central ice colour (400 meters of steep ice) and then turn round rock tower along second and narrow third ice colour to gendarme "Petukh" (Cock) and finally by crags along steep rock to the top (5A). During the time I mentally climbed to East Shkhelda the sun goes west and we did already the top of Shchurovskiy peak and make a descent down along south-east crest through the Ushba plateau and Ushba ice-fall coming to "German bivouac" in completely dark. A snowfall which we had near the top has changed for raining, makes us wet but rather happy. We have rest tomorrow and then up to Shkhelda.
I have not finished my night dream yet. What a nice place I have been: it's ocean, nice girls and fresh wind with splashes of a foam. But some body push me wake up - it a time to go to Shkhelda. Here in Russia we have a slang words, that means to go to water coset when you say "to go to Shkhelda". It a real means joke of this morning. It was raining all night long and it drops down my face through a hole in our tent - here is my night dream reality - wet suit.
It's one o'clock in the night. We need to get to treangl "mirror". Solo style again, climbing ice gully, small rock crests - everyone in his own temp. Only near the "mirror" we are standing together. It's six "key" ropes up 40 meters each, from one good 30 sm shelf to another. Here we get to the top and rush down the rock to the col to think over our position and future plans. Darknes comes in the valley beneath and we have a pleasure of the last sunshine. " No, I want to sleap home - in "German's". OK, men, drop down!" - it's good dessicion. We make dulfer descent fast, even swift drop down in completely dark looking like glow-worm or fire-fly over infinity of this Mountain. It's one o'clock next night. I drop down the tent and fall a sleep - compleat "fly out".
It has been a week before. And now everything in the past as we are coming down by Shkhelda glacier from "German's" even having no a tea to eat. Nothing food lefts. That's all - completely "aouto pilot". I watch down my foot, but see nothing. It is not easy to describe our descent home to Shkhelda camp. It could be compared with escape from the encircled in a war. Here is nice glade so-called "Shkhelda's smile" already not far from Rescue service camp with a lot of people, burning over sunshine in a pleasure of water streams. And six persons have gone near to them: worn out, broken and hungry like a wild lion - here we are. Nobody pay any attention to us, moving away their eyes as we are look not nice to watch on. Nobody knows, that it's one of the best team in Soviet Union has made extreamly difficalt series of climbing. We should be the first this year. But it does not matter this time for me.
One month after in Moscow we have been moved by judge's intrigues to fourth position. Well, of cours Moscow is the best place you can clearly see a mountains from!
Averything is over. But it was the beginning in enthusiastic excitement and presentiment of splended climbings first in Adir-Su valley. Adir-Su valley begins from Verkhniy Baksan village, comes to the north to Ullutau and Dzhajly camps 10 km after. North face of Ullutau (4207 m) massif, poured by ice together with rock bastions frozen in, with 800 meters high is dominated all over the Adir-Su valley.
"This winter (1989) we have been first in winter Championship climbing Ullutau north face (5B)during 8 hours up and down, had a descent along the same rout by center of face. But now this face is not included in summer Championship raiting, no one rout has this hounour."
There is small valley Kulumkol coming up from Asdir-Su one near to camp Dzhajlyk with crest crossing Dzhajlyk peak (4533 m). Its monolithic rock tower rising up in center of Adir-Su range drops down to west with vertical rock faces, inviting to climb (V. Lee rout, 5B).
Egor Timme continue his story:
"It was a good weather and we make a decision to begin our climbing in Championship - this 20 days, where have no step back from. We come up the rock face eirly in the morning and... wet snowfall with big flakes suddenly begins. Rock part of the rout is rather short - only 5 ropes - but very difficalt and remainds me El-Capitan Nose rout, which I climbed after. Short inside long vertical crag rising up only for fingers, where "friends" comes good to belay. Now I smile, by that time we did not have any "friends". So now all crag is filled up with wet snow. It's crazy to climb up, and we make a decision to have descent down. What a pity, but... We see the next group coming up to our bivouac. They mannaged to find us on the slope and point with fingers to our direction. If we drop down, we should wait for their turn climb up, and we decided to start right away. I was climbing first rope in boots. I feel the stone is wet and slippery without good friction. I put a stopper inside crag and load it with my weight to have a breath. "Dzine", it's my stopper flies out and I fall a few meters down, smashing on a shoulder and head of the man, who have the rope with my belay. It is the same Sasha, who took a slab in Ushba - poor fellow. First free fall gives selfsure and I continue climb up without a fear. It's a good resalt - ten hours in bad weather for the first climb. OK. What is the next?
The second is North face of Tiutiu (4460 m) - M. Khergiany rout (6A). It stands near to Dzhajlyk, but our rout is back side over the crest. It takes about 6 hours to get to it from Tiutiu valley, which begins almost from Tyrnauz city. But we know a way through icefall to the left of this group. We get to begining of the rout in two hours. "OK, men. We are climbing free style",- Sheynov said, and we rush up by ice coloir, then seven ropes by steep rock and finally ice "roof" we are climbing on. Bad crumbled ice is "breathing" beneath each our step in crampons. Every one feels danger that we could fall down together being spitled by means of this "rotted" ice. Each step could be the last. It was strong psychological tense and then break to mental fredom with no fear after we did this betrayal slop. It does not matter if you climb with rope or not - we have felt ourselves compleatly sure. It was that time that we gave birth to a new style in Russia - collective solo. Each of us does not feel himself separetely, but on the contrary we felt ourselves as united whole part. Even up to the present time I have this feeling of freedom inside, as the best I have ever had in my life. It's the feeling, when you work not the money for, not the glory for, but for the feeling of unity, as if we make fly some where, moving together in one outburst, which was formed maximally in our next climbing over Doguz-Orun."
Mt. Donguz-Orun (4468 m) is a spectacular massif covered with ice and snow that rises up over 1500 m in the heat of Central Caucasus in front of Elbrus with really magical, the most difficalt North face, coloured in pink during sunset time, which attracts and the same time refuses climbers, and is traversed by the wide glacier with its unmistakable "7" shape form, which overhanging in front of Baksan valley - central and most popular valley of Elbrus region.
It takes only one and a half hour to get to moraine near to footland of Donguz (it's short name) to set bivouac tent very close to the side of the north face, which is more then 1500 meters rise up, first climb along the center of the face by Michael Khergiani's rope team (5B) during four days to make ascent up and one day for descent!
"We are waiting for morning spent a night time in our tent, which stands on "breathing" morain because of continuous ice-fall, making a terrible din all night long some where in the darkness of the wall, which could be a "mousetrap" for us tomorrow. "Nothing to fear, men", says Shura Sheynov, our capitan. "I have climbed already this face twice, first time solo, and now we did it third time together! It was my dream that really fascinates me and this solo climb I remember with the great emotion.
I have manage to sleep during the time that Shura continue his story. And now we climbing up in our solo style not step to step, but in paralel way - 6 soloist persons, each shows his brave in front of each. There is large rock upside. Saddenly somewhere ice fall crash down makes all of us together in a few seconds to rush under difence of this large rock, feeling the horror in a cold wet of each back. OK, it falls through. Finally the leader, Shura, is climbing 200 meters upper us, then we are in a group of four, and one men 200 meters beneath us alone, just obviously thinking of some thing important, like: "What is the Hell for I climb this ice up?" But we continue our solo climb, reaching the top 11 a.m."
"This sunshine is burning all around has no mercy upon us. I am even tired of it. I wish the rain! But where is it? Oh, it is a sweeming pool in Dzhantugan camp in upper part of Adi-Su valley. All championship events are behind. It's nice relaxation liing over concrete edge, like hot-water bottle. Thete are water splash, nice girls, stron boys, ringing laughter, some gossip arround - everything looks like unreality after extream 20 days of struggle for life. But mountains of this valley still stand around, and my glance sliping over them, bearing in my memory reminiscences of my past."
All events, described in this article have been and could be in reality only in Russia during the end of 80 years and beginning of 90 years, after the moment when a new formula in rouls of Soviet Championship in mountaineering has been taken. It was that time, when a new way of climbing mountains was born, which named after as "collective solo free style" which our team of SKA 13 MVO took active part as "Fathers in baptism law".
Author is obliged personnaly to Egor Timme and Sergey Bondarenko for their help.
To be continued in Pamiro-Alai region...