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Author: Tsibanov Andrey, Moscow
Koshtan (5151m), North ridge, 4B, Caucasus, Russia
In July 2003 a team of climbers from Moscow (Tsibanov Andrey, Tsibanov Alexander, Lomovtsev Vladimir, Merdeeva Maria and Proskura Maria) summited Koshtan-Tau, Northen ridge, 4B.
The ascent goes in offset on a counter “Besengi Silver stars”.
Our adventure began from a routing sheet affirmation at Control saving service. Jury Sergeevich Saratov took it and said:
- Well, tell me, please…. Proskura and Merdeeva have climbed only 2b-route this season. And you are going to try 4B? It is not an easy 4B mountain! If Merdeeva sent 4B route last year, but Proskura has nothing at her heart, except for 3À-route she climbed last year. Well, it's a lucky dip. This is not a simple mountain, it's a very serious five-thousand mountain and it has her own fatal history. But you, that a first-rank sportsman Tsibanov there, leads unripe people!!!
-Well, but Proscura is a rock-climber...
- Not a damned bit! Tell me please if her qualification of rock-climber is of use during Koshtan ascent?!
But as we would like to ascend the simplest 4B-route we included in the routing sheet one more traverse of Ptitsa (Bird) 3B and finally got the permit.
We had already food and gear carried at a camp site at 3900m called Utyug (Iron) as we had already summited Panoramny peak, 2B started right from that site. The second day we ascended from Utyug up to the foot of Koshtan and miraculously spent the night in its snow corrie. On the glacier we met climbers from Saint Petersburg Anisimov and Izotov that had summited Koshtan via 5B route (as the result they have won the first place in the championship of Petersburg) and they told us that descending the north ridge they were exhausted very much (the ascent 5B-route seemed to them easier than descent 4B). Such words forced us to organize ourselves.
Next day we traversed Ptitsa and returned again to the glacier under Koshtan at about 14.00. And we had enough time to take a rest before planned ascent.
Early in the morning we climbed with rucksacks on already reconnoitered way as descent from Ptitsa passes in the same place of ascent route on the Koshtan shoulder. The ascent appeared rather simple: from a ledge to a ledge first and then we put on crampons and went along rocks on ice, using friends and loops to belay. There wasn't water ice there. By 14.00 we reached a cofferdam, but it was impossible to arrange spending the night there, only cold one.
Further there was a simple ridge extended to the shoulder. Not getting right to the very top of it we traversed at a level of small rocky sites - and finally got in a fault trough under a hanging rock. The trough was covered with 10 cm ice. Directly under an awning of our tent we cut down an ice-hole, scooped water with circles, not getting out from a sleeping bag.
We got up at 3.00. The weather was bad. We had breakfast, gathered. At 6.00 the weather was still bad. It began drizzling snow. At 9.00 we began to think over. The first variant - to descend with heavy rucksacks rappelling in a bad weather and through the rain. It meant it would be very cold and the people would grumble. The second variant - to go upwards with light baggage, heading the summit, where a dry snow was falling and everyone would move and be warmer. This logic, certainly, was foolish but then it worked.
Three gendarmes were the crux of the ridge climbing. The first one was in two pitches from spending the night site. We climbed it head-on. On a return way our descent from 3-rd gendarme was on a way of ascent!!! It was a typical mistake - rappelling from the gendarme to the Northwest, and we descended superfluous 80 meters, and lost one and half an hour, in addition we could get under a stone fall. The second gendarme was absolutely simple. The rise on the third gendarme was seen right from under it. First we climbed it little bit head-on (meters on 20), then traversed to the right via some ledges, then again upwards.
Up to the summit we went simultaneously on the ridge. It was snowing, visibility was pure. We threw uphill snowballs not to fall from the cornice: if a snowball slides back - the ridge exists, if not - you have to descent a little while the next snowball slides again.
The control cairn stands to the south of the top, and we had to go down about 30 meters and then took out the note wrote by Anisimov and Izotov.
It was cleared up while we were descending. When we reached spending the night place in general the sun was shining. How it was good, that we did not bail this morning. By the way, we took on the top a sleeping bag, an awning and insulating pads. According the description of the route it takes 12-14 hours from the spending the night place to the summit and back, therefore probably you should start the summit bid at 9.00 at latest.
Though our girls had no wide climbing experience but went very quickly due to their good shape (one Masha in general is a judo master of sports).
Next day we descended to Utuyg moving roped up on the glacier and it was not vain, as I right at the end fell in a crevasse in that place where it could not be at all.
The night was crystal-clear, and I managed to make a strange photo right after a sunset.
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