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Western Mizhirgi (5025m, Caucasus, Russia),
Southern ridge (5) ascent

Koshtan (5151m), North ridge, 4B, Caucasus, Russia

Author: Tsibanov Andrey, Moscow



Pushkin peak (5100m) Northern Face, 5B, ascent. Comments

Technical data of ascent

Dykh-Tau mountain massif

"If a team is warned about danger,
they can go anywhere".

In July, 2005 a group of climbers from Moscow: Tsibanov Alexander, Tsibanov Andrey, Kulikov Vladimir, Bezditko Sergey summited Pushkin Peak North Face 5-B-graded.

The ascent was made within the framework of the project "Counter "Bezengi Silver stars".

It seems to me the matter is not in getting of the counter and not in discounts which are given by the camp to owners of these counters. We just want to aspire to something. Earlier, for example, climbers aspired to have senior grade, to become masters of sports. But nowadays many changes have taken place. A lot of people climb for fun and pleasure and choose their aims by themselves. And if besides only sports interest there is such motivation as shooting of film or a picture album the ascent gets additional sense.

We had found a route on Pushkin peak in a qualifier: it's 5B-graded and was first paved by Kudinov in 1972. The second climb was done in 1976 by a team from Grozny and came to a sad end: all the six climbers were lost on their descent in a couloir from Borovikov peak. As it was not clear why and how the group was descending, and we did not manage to find description of Kudinov's route even in Bezengi Camp, our original plans to climb this route changed at once. We decided to climb first Kletsko's route on Borovikov peak, 5B, but from the place it turns to Mizhirgi we should get to Pushkin peak for a day more. Such a new route appeared.

At Popovskie camp site

Acclimatization was short. For the second day of staying in the mountains my brother and I climbed Panoramny, 4200m, 2B, during bad weather and breaking deep snow. One night we spent on Utyug (Iron), 3900m, and, it was already about time to start climbing Pushkin peak. Vladimir and Sergey had preferred not to be exerted and they climbed Panoramny for 3rd day and did not spend the night at 3900. All this adversely affected during our ascent.

We left Krymkolskie camp site to get under the route, the approaches seem to be the most picturesque in Bezengi. All the team scattered about the beautiful flower glades, everyone trekked in his own pace thinking of sense of the present ascent and just his own thoughts....

The gear we had selected carefully minimizing the total weight. A pot - one for two, a mug - somebody refused at all, a spoon - one for two too, and everything in such a manner: somebody did not take a sleeping bag, the other -neither a dawn-parka nor a vest; pitons - only from titan, a rope- 9mm, food- only sublimated products. That is to say minimum was down the line, but we had 15 friends! The leader planned to climb with an empty rucksack, one two-wan team climb through the other because of a poor belay.


There was a lot of snow fallen out in the spring, all the North Face covered with a snow armour was silent all the summer long. Any route could be started to climb. Thus the magnificent weather had been holding for the whole month. We remembered only great avalanches from Krumkol collapsed at the night on July 3. Almost all the zone of faults fell off, the avalanche shined by fires, probably, due to static electricity or sparks from stones; it was like volcanic lava. I do not have the idea how to take a photo of that. In general such effects as Saint Elmo's Fire at a thunder-storm, often bright trails of meteors coming through the Earth's atmosphere or these boiling by fires avalanches add of adrenaline. To fall asleep is completely impossible if you lay a head outside of a tent and can see the entire route on Pushkin peak.

The first day was the heaviest. By 12 am we reached the rocks site of about 8 pitches and up to 80 degrees, covered with ice. Here and there were terrible heaps of stones and ice, it was just impossible to climb with a rucksack, 80 percent of the site we were jugging. Alexander- a wizard on rocks, was the first and with an empty rucksack free-climbed on an ice-covered relief not using a tool and AID-gear on principle. We heard that Jury Saratov had climbed this buttress. They said that he had got to it right from the camp: they were young and arrogant, caught a cold night there due to out of time to finish the buttress. We "slaved" up to 20.00 having some problems: friends were not pulled out, the rope of the last jammed, jugs slid on an ice-covered rope. A video camera, it's a clear matter, refused to operate at once. Blocks of ice were collapsed from above by the guys climbing first: all of these fell on a head, hands covering the entire wall, and there was no place where to be sheltered.

Two hours we cut the trough under our tents with four tools and in the light of torches cutting down a heap of ice and then fell asleep right while having supper, directly with a head in a pot.

Dawn, a view from Borovikov peak

Next day the sun was up and illuminated the North Face at 6.00 am. It was just impossible to sleep father at the tent because of heat. Fine day! Under the description of Kletsko route climbing on ice pyramids and a snow ridge at the second day would take 15 hours as well as the first day. And I without a rucksack just ran as scalded with two tools. Probably due to the fact that up-to-date equipment seems to be a shadow of former self, for 8 hours we went past two spending the night sites on the glacier named "Galstuk (Tie)" (comparing with the first ascent made by Kletsko in 1961). We faced difficulties climbing the sharp ridge: avalanches collapsed right from under our feet on either side, we had to dig holes and sat there on a neck arranging the belay.

Spending the night on "Galstuk" was the most tremendous. We were in the middle of the wall like on a springboard. At dawn all the wall, tents, our physiognomies became red.

The third day. The altitude was higher 4500m, therefore we could not run with a rucksack any more. We went to the cofferdam first on abrupt ice, then snow of 60 degrees. The hanging glacier fell with ice blocks zinging down near us. We hardly crossed the bergschrund before the last ice rise: due to the hot sunshine there were a lot of streams of water falling on our heads from the top snow drifts. The ice rise was firm, almost glass, one pitch not less than 70 degrees. Then we hooked for a rock, a pair of pitches more - and we were at the cofferdam where had to cut ice again.

The fourth day - traverse from Borovikov up to Pushkin. 12 hours in total. To bypass the 2-nd gendarme from the south appeared hard, one pitch there was of 5 grade and under 85 degrees in places. Also it was "absolutely cheerful" to get out on Pushkin's tower: a wind, cold, about nightfall, and two pitches of 80 degrees ahead. The monolithic beginning of the rise spelled cold spending the night, but my brother confirmed his level of climbing, and I had to jug with two rucksacks at 5000m to relieve Sergey, that climbed the last, of adventures on descent under the rocky rise. Finally we got out: it was getting dark, a terrible wind, we had to cut ice again, my brother lost a film and Vladimir - his tool.

Spending the night at the cofferdam

At the summit

A view from Pushkin peak to the North

Decline, a view from Pushkin peak

I hardly forced myself to take a photo of a view to the South. A view from Pushkin in an hour after a sunset that is the very thing for the purpose of four-day-climbing. Surprising gradation of color! It is already night on the East, the mountains are in a gloom, but on the West the red summits are still visible. The crystal-clear sky, ominous and drawing blue of Shhara's ice. I could feel the depth of space covering me, but the slices of ice broken by a wind, smiting on my face and an objective and forced me to pack myself off and get to the tent.

The fifth day - rappelling via the Southern couloir, 10 pitches, and as many again on foot to Dzhangi-Kosh, where we were cordially received with hot tea.

Well, that's all Pushkin for you. All of us were safe and sound. The route appeared logical and safe, with a huge variety of a relief and beautiful views. We were lucky with weather and what is more climbers need? The routes from the South seem more popular, but we took a note of Shchepachkov's team left at the top in winter 2003, but in turn he had taken a message left in 1988... It turns out that the mountain is not popular, but its the worth mountain.

Elbrus at night

Night ascent

Bezengi is an excellent place for acclimatization before Elbrus climb. What for the whole week have you to sit on a moraine near the "Priyut"? If you need the height - you will easily find it in Bezengi. For the second time I climbed Elbrus under a no conventional plan: in the morning at 7 o'clock we leave from Bezengi in Terskol, by 4 pm we reach "Priyut" or "Bochki". At 10-11 pm we start a night ascent.

By 5 am we summit the East top. In fact we go to meet a dawn; it is visible far on the East from it - and well-beloved Bezengi, and Ullu-Tau, and Kazbek. The Mountains are slowly awaking; the wild cold leaves with every new ray of the sun. After a gloom and a cold you are never so glad to see the sun as at the Elbrus summit. At this time all of the crowd are climbing the Western top and will appear there only toward afternoon because it is higher. In the afternoon a view from it does not impress. That is why I always do things differently from other people. On a descent some people ask questions such as "Where did you spend the night? How did you ascend so fast, if all the climbers had started at three o'clock? "


It is amusing to look how people climb nearly dying of heat. Some people say that next time they will climb Elbrus at night: let it be cold, than hot. I show my video pictures I made at dawn - they became to be even more upset.

At 10 am I descend to my tent and at 12 I am already in Terskol. This day you can fly back to Moscow and between this and then tell friends, that this day you did not sleep and walked on Elbrus. And one more thing - don't think that I decorate my photos in Photoshop.

Everything looked like that. You should wake up earlier, go to bed later, climb higher, and take photographs as you like and what you like, instead of on any rules of composition... But if you have an opportunity to take photo with the camera you like it is excellent thing in general.

Bezengi is awaking...

Snow fields at the summit

Western summit


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