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Author: : Alexander Odintsov, Sankt-Petersburg
Photo: Denis Provalov, Moscow
Venezuela: “We had to solve equation with many unknown quantities”. Odintsov’s letter.
It had to happen and it happened. In an unknown country, on an unknown landscape, on an unknown wall we had to solve equation with many unknown quantities. That was no surprise that we didn`t reach the result. The character of Dovlatov, having moved to New-York, complained: "guessed, that they speak English here, but not to such a degree!".
And so we did, we expected that it was hot on the equator. But it can be simply hot and HOT. That unsettled us and we sharply slowed the rate of moving. When we were approaching to the mountain, it had been cloudy and raining yet, when as soon as we came to the wall, the weather became bad. Clouds disappeared and great dry had set in. Water that we expected to be enough to reach the top came to the end on the middle of the wall.
"Failures hunted us. And the main of them was the fact that I had charged my brother with the equipment for our expedition. Nikolay killed us, and I think he did it knowingly". ( V. Kaverin, Two Capitans).
Our "Nikolay" was called Ivan Calderon. He had been the member of international team that had made the ascent to the wall of Autan four years ago. They thrust him as a guide and attendant on us. He took all his personal equipment to the wall, planning to take part in the ascent. His plans didn`t come to reality. When he understood that fact, he decided that his main aim was to throw grit in the bearings. At first he avoided giving us any information about the wall and then began to deceive us. It was impossible to see the wall from the jungles trees prevent. We saw it for the first time only when came closely to the wall in the place where our guide had brought us. He showed the beginning and the line of their route.
We chose a crack in 100 meters to the left from that route. Our guide said us that the routes wouldn`t cross. Can you imagine my emotions when at the end of the fifth rope I saw the rope, coming from behind the corner and fastened in our crack.
As a result, our route had crossed the Venezuela`s one. Luckily, for only 3-3,5 ropes. They had gone on traversing the wall to the left and we climbed up.
Negative experience is also experience. The wall hadn`t surrendered to us from the first time. So we will make one more attempt. Now we know a lot about it.
I expected the climbing to be much more easier, I thought I would climb and at the same time write SMS to girls, and in reality everything appeared much more difficult, the rock was prickly, many movable stone were found, somewhere whole blocks fell down from the wall, climbing was very difficult, some of the ropes were of the 8 th grade of difficulty, one of them, I think, was even of 8b grade of difficulty.
The structure of the rock is following: rare cracks, often blank, that end with bare walls, we often had to make traverses, looking for passes, because of forming bends it was difficult to run the rope. Somewhere the wall was overgrown and we had to "weed beds" in order to find holds.
The other difficult thing was to organize the belay. On of the ropes there was a liana and the only points of belay were loops that I hung on it, believing it wouldn`t break.
In the cracks there were bats and spiders of giant sizes.
One more thing that didn`t allowed us to relax were beehives that flew around us, bit and crept into trousers.
Downwards, under the wall a shaggy spider was living, it looked like a big pan, we called him Vasja, if we had more time to spend together, probably, he would respond to that name.
Every day giant, like condors, parrots were flying, they shouted as loudly as they could, the guide said it was because they were malicious.
All the time they told me about the alpinism, that it was possible to fall down when you were a rock-climber, and impossible when your were doing alpinism. I flew every day, pulling hooks and camalots away, hexes weren`t pulled away as I hadn`t left them. :-)
Of course, I had not enough experience. So, I had to fly. It was very unpleasant. Because of the flights my side under the harness became obliterated up to the blood.
If we had not enough information about the structure of the wall, there were problems with equipment, we had not enough hooks and camalots of defined size.
It was impossible to hammer bolts is, as the rock was very solid, there was real epopee to hammer something in the wall. The mandrel grew blunt, became crooked, and broke. We had only two mandrels. After I had destroyed one of them, I was not given another.
It was possible to work only in the morning, before midday, later sun came to the wall and made it red-hot, so it was impossible even to stay on it.
According to our guide`s words, rains were expected every day but when we were making the ascent, there were no rains during the week.
As for me, it was very difficult to re-form, to start climbing after raising with the help of ascenders for about 100 meters. General tiredness accumulated from day to day. We didn`t want to climb anywhere. Everyone was looking for a ground. Once a day Den joyfully announced: "saw today, Valery threw stones down. Hurray!" We would start the descent soon.
It was very unusually to climb when lots of ferrata were hanging on you: hammers, camalots, carabineers and a helmet on the head. I tried to get as little ferrata, as I could, and Alexander, otherwise, tried to hang much on me. About ten meters later ferrata came to an end and they lifted me more equipment with the help of the rope.
There was no the time of gloaming, it lasted about 5 minutes at all. At 6 o`clock in the evening sun set and night came. At six o`clock in the morning sun rose. Sky was starry, every five minutes stars or meteorites fell down, it was possible to think as many wishes as you like, and we did it every evening. Yes! it was very uncomfortable to sleep in a harness, being fastened to the rope. :-)
Having heard the monolog of the rock-climber Shaferov, which had changed the belief, I felt a desire to heard specifications from his more experienced colleagues.
Evidence of Provalov:
One of spits was hammered by me in incorrect direction and we descended.
The second spit we hammered to hang the portaledge, moreover, two portaledges (It was frightening).
The third spit was hammered in the place of jump.
One removable hook we used on the descent for making a station.
Thus, on the wall of 400 meters high we hammered three spits and one removable hook.
It was really impossible to hammer hooks in. Write: incredibly solid rock. It was not concrete, but something strange it took about hour and a half of time the hammer in one spit, moreover, it was necessary to hammer by light blows, otherwise spit could broke. There could be useful 8-mm small hooks, but not spits of 12 mm.
The main theme was following: we had a climber that was not real climber he fell down all the time, speleologist that was not real speleologist he couldn`t hammer the hook in, Odintsov it was simply difficult to understand, what for he had gathered all of us, it would be very interesting, when the parachutist wouldn`t jump...
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