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Interviewed by Anna Piunova, Mountain.RU
M.RU: How long do you team with Denis? Why Denis? Does the “ideal team-mate” exist? What do you wait (need) from your team mate?
I met Denis in summer 1999 when I invited him to join my project to realize the Snow Leopard program in one season only. I chose Denis Urubko and Andrey Molotov for that project because I asked Rinat Khaibullin to find and suggest me two strong and young climbers. My idea was to teach them my and Boukreev’s style of climbing and life.
My team mate must be strong, humble, fast and always optimistic.
The accident and risks are a part of our life. In love, job, sport, and so on, we take risk every day during all our life. Climbing a mountain is probably more risky than working in an office but I don’t want a safe life but a deep and enthusiastic life….. I prefer to be happy every day for 36 years than to be happy only on Sundays for 80 years….
M.RU: Are there the principal changes in the mountaineering activity for the past 10-15-20 years?
Alpinism changes when the people change. In the last 20 years many things have changed and also the climbers.
M.RU: What do you like and dislike in the modern alpinism?
I like the alpinism that follows ideas and not tendencies. I found nice alpinism in the past and in the present and bad alpinism in the same periods. The exploration today is more limited than in the past but in alpinism there are so many climbs that still wait “the first”. The biggest difference is the way and possibilities to communicate. Today through internet, sat phone, digital technologies, you can send information to all the world in real time and involve many people. In the past this was not possible. Also the economical situation has changed.
Climbing style that you prefer. And why?
Light style, speed style, small team, are the qualities I like to have in my climbs. Why? It is more sportive and honest the game with oneself and the mountain. I respect but I don’t like to assault the mountain as the big teams do….
The eternal question: West and East. The difference in the way of climbing. What’s dominated: the commons or the differences?
In East don’t exist individual alpinism of very few climber follow this style. I really appreciate the “Kamanda spirit” that is typical in CIS expeditions and climbs, but too many strong climbers are unknown in west because always hidden in the group. Many strong climbers have lost the possibility to become professionals and find sponsors because they did not have the possibility to demonstrate their real level in typical (2 climbers) climbs. Alpinism in not like football…..
The strongest climbers in the world are hidden in CIS but only 2/3 are known….
Another difference is in the “ art to communicate”. In Cis climbers there is the barrier of the English language and this is the reason why they cannot communicate with foreign climbers, press, sponsors.
M.RU: The soviet way of training – is it a clue to the successful ascents of Kazakhstan team? Or anything else?
I don’t think so. The kind of training that Kazakhstan teams do is not particularly scientific…. But the strength is in the team spirit where everybody sacrifices something of himself for the final result but also this spirit is changing … In the last expedition I saw that this spirit is finishing. Too many rigid military systems kill the personality, interpretations and motivation…. Also in Italy we have the Army Sport Club but the athletes receive advice not orders.
M.RU: The coach. Edvard Iljinsky plays key role in the Kazakhstan team. It’s unique or it’s necessarily even for the much experienced climbers?
Edvard Iljinsky is a friend and nice man. He has done and is doing a lot for the young generations and the future of alpinism in Kazakhstan but he uses a style that I respect deeply but also I don’t like completely. The climbers he coaches and trains are not free to decide which kind of alpinism they like to do and this is a limit. Denis Urubko, my partner, could be one of the best climbers in the world but is quite stopped because he cannot decide completely his style of alpinism and climbing. He could be the flag of Kazakhstan and CSKA in the world but he can demonstrate his strength and level only in “team climbs” and this is a mistake and big limit. Anatoly Boukreev became the “King of Himalaya” and idol of many climbers only when he went out of the standard URSS mentality….. and even if he died 6 years ago, everybody in the world knows Kazakhstan, CSKA and so on. Now I have many friends, I love Kazakhstan, CIS climbers and mountains through him and his choice….
M.RU: The ethic of climbing. How do you see it.
I’m not so rigid in the ethic. I respect any kind of climbs because I like the freedom. Of course I have my ethic and I quite explaned it during my previous answer.
Even if I use it I hate the climbs with oxygen. The climbs using oxygen are not honest and sportive and for that reason I will return on my steps in the climb I used it…….
M.RU: Your the most difficult ascents (personally)
M.RU: The speed ascents: characteristics, trainings
I love speed ascents and there are not so many climbers that are really ready to do it. You have to train every day and be very athletic. Very often the Himalayan climbers are strong as a mule but not fast as a horse.
M.RU: The winter ascents: features, training, the main difficulties
50% of 8000 meter peaks are unclimbed in winter and there are thousands of winter climbs that are waiting the first…
This will be an important part of my alpinism and to realize such kind of climbs you must be ready to withstand the cold, extra difficulties, failure and I think I’m ready.
M.RU: The recommendation for follower: the training (the frequency, the duration, the regularity and the character). Any diet?
I could write a book about it and the answer to this question is difficult to synthesize. The training must be regular, hard, varied and motivated. I like to be ready physically and technically and for example my level is 8A in rock climb ( I climbed also 8b+), M9 in mix climb, and I love endurance sports ( Denis Urubko can confirm what I’m saying) . To maintain this level I have to train every day and very much but I feel quite sure in any kind of situation also in Himalaya.
M.RU: The link between the training and the final result?
In Himalaya the link is not so high. Less than 35%. Weather and motivation are the secret to reaching the summit. In technical climbs the link is around 80% but the real difference between one champion and a good sportsman is the brain, motivation, astuteness, the capacity of suffering.
M.RU: How much time do you spend on rock or gym climbing? Call me please the category of the routes you climb onsight and afterwork? Is it important thing for mountaineering?
It depends very much in which part of the year and which are my projects. When I return from Himalya my technical level is very low and every time I have to restart to train and grow up. In February 2003 for example I climbed 7c+ onsight and 8A+ afterwork but I dedicate very short time to the rock climb. It happened between the Antarctica and Karakorum expeditions. My best result had been 7c+ onsight and 8b+ afterwork. In mountaineering it is very important because on any kind of terrain I feel sure.
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