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Author: Anna Piunova, Mountain.RU
Pavel Shabalin, Ilyas Tukhvatullin. First Ascent Khan Tengri North Face Center in two-man team, alpine style
P.Sh.: In the eighties we, one of the first, began to climb routes in technical class not in command but a in a two-man team. Two years ago the idea to make the same thing in high-altitude class fell into our mind. In fact Northern Face of Khan Tengri, South Face of Communism peak, Pobeda peak seem towering lonely and deserted. Climbers go to repeat these challenge routes but always in a big team. And it would be more favorable if they climb in a two-man team and in Alpine style.
Jury Moiseev mourned that anybody else than Russians want to ascend Khan Tengri. The Poles, Bulgarians… At the best they reach the ledge and overturn to the left. This year a Polish two-man team fell after two days of climbing. One of them could survive but the other couldn't. In total there were about six attempts to climb it in two-man team.
Two years ago Ilyas and I already tried that: started climbing not founding out needed gear, clothes, character of the wall, climate condition. Having ascended for a week we found an interesting route - a combination of Odessa and Studenin's routes (the beginning on Studenin's route, then on Odessa one), with finish via a variant of Pogorelov's route. Because of bad weather that time we had to bail.
Having made two pitches on Pogorelov's route we got into an avalanche charge shooting us down from the wall: it was impossible to sit and wait it, the helicopter already began evacuation of the camp below therefore we had traversed the ledge and descend.
But every cloud has a silver lining: needed gear, tactics and strategy of climbing right deposited in our heads. We had all the needed things sponsored by Camp and RedFox: the experimental gear and clothes in view of coming Ê2 Expedition. That means it was a run-in test of all that equipment that will be taken on Ê2
MR: Freezing injury.....
P.Sh.: I thought in such way: the new gear plus new this alpine super-style and we will climb upper, upper and upper… Denis Urubko & Co as much as possible lighten too while climbing, run nearly in sprint shoes.
And I decided to try in this style and said: "Ilyas, you are the second, so climb in usual boots, and I will climb actually like in training shoes with small crampons". It was the first my screwup because I was initially in small boots even they were super
The second: When Ilyas and I climb I am always the leader, he is the second. And this time when all this muck, bad weather began we had no any convenient site for spending the night, only for sedentary; then there was a problem with our stove: we spent a half of a day mending it.... And all of these led us to waste running days one by one…
Supplies (fuel, food) ran low. Our energy - too. (The spirit had ended already on the Col).
And we postponed our start: began climbing on August 20th instead of 15th as it was planned. And as explained by Il'insky after August, 15 the real winter already begins there.
"The car went into a skid". Well, the more, the merrier.
While climbing my hands were already uphelded and were freezing all the time and no matter what you were wearing on them. Leashed tools forced with pressure my hands but I was the leader all the time and had to climb ahead at the very least. The second can sit down for a while, make a pitch running for 15-20 minutes and curl up belaying...
No, I mean, the tactics was good, everything was right working but the strategy that I kept failed in real conditions.
When we climbed upwards getting to the "roof" everything was still OK. But then climbing from the "roof" up to the summit I felt that something wrong with my hands, they were bending somehow anomalous.
In the morning we got out 6850m. That night was almost without gas, water. We sat all the time not taking off our boots. Just as at the previous night....
Therefore such bad thing happened: common body decay plus heavy work, tight shoes, bad weather … In the result - freezing injury.
In general we planned to climb in three-man team (we and Mariev). And planned also a high-speed ascent. If it had been so we would not have climbed via the center getting on Zakharov's Tower, but finished via Myslovsky's route (just turn for a corner and run up to the summit).
In a three-man team the climbers can vary and climb non-stop even if you have to break trail. But if you are only two men in your team everything turns out in another way.
MR: Gear, clothes, belongings. What was in your rucksack while you were climbing the mountain?
P.Sh.: I had only a rucksack, two insulating pads and a sleeping bag. All the rest thing were hauled by Ilyas.
The uttermost minimization. I remember precisely that we had 4,3 kg of food.
And one litter of haw bitters of 70-degrees.
Drugstore, repair kit, films, glasses etc. - 1 kg.
Personal - 0,5 kg (warm mittens, the reserve socks, reserve gloves, mask).
Ilyas had about the same sort of things.
Sleeping bag - one for two us, weight of 1kg (it was the thinnest thinsulate blanket 2õ2, absolutely comfortable, made by RedFox).
Thin down parkas, weight of 600 gr.
And we were wearing on: thermolinen "powerstretch", wind-breaker sweatshirt and trousers, wind-breaker sweatshirt and trousers Gore-Tex® , a fliss hat, a helmet, 2 pairs of gloves (thin and warm Gore-Tex). All of that were made by Red Fox and worked ideally.
MR: The ropes.
P.Sh.: Lanex, 9,1. Specially, we cut the rope to have it of 60 meters. The matter is that to climb 40-50 meters hard enough, but 25-30 meters - it is normal. We distil led this theory out of our previous climb experience.
You have your strengths to climb 25-30 meters, to make a push and run fast. It is tactically better, than to climb all the 50 meters. With intermediate belay points you go more slowly, then even more slowly - you get tired in fact.
And to the second feels easier to climb 25-30 meters with a heavy backpack.
Actually I climbed all the pitches from station to station (probably there were five ones where intermediate belay points were organized) never letting go tools, not taking off crampons. And from the foot up to the summit in such a manner.
Our two-man team moved on the wall like a caterpillar: extended from station up to the next one - take up the "tail". Again and again. It is more effective, than a standard variant of fixing the rope on the wall.
P.Sh.: We were completely equipped by Camp. "Awax" are very good tools, and crampons "Vector"- too. For all the ascent - it is surprising - we had nothing broken, all the ice tools worked perfectly.
Friends, chocks, bolts etc- all we had were made by Camp. And we tested Krasnoyarian anchors. They appeared excellent too. We used anchor bolts a lot. But one problem we had to leave them there a lot too because they are very difficult for taking out. But we could set them practically in any places and they really helped us.
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