Dawn catches us at breakfast. Now the usual storage fees. We're still turning the tents frosty. Exit: On closer inspection, snow on a glacier is anything but beautiful – there are many small pebbles and sand. But for us it is important that all of this "holds", the legs do not fall out anywhere. We push ourselves to the right, to the shaft of stones and sand, which is as long as a lizard's tail and is pulled through the glacier by the Nunataka, at the top of which our path is located. Even though the set is small, it's not difficult to walk. And here we are at the foot of the ridge that leads to the places under the tents. But there are still two hours left. “Now there is the most difficult place for any acclimatization. The climb is not very steep, but it is long. We quickly reach about 300 meters. Nobody is in a hurry, but you cannot stop every five meters – you will lose speed, it will be very difficult. Think about the adjustment of the foot. You can rely on both sticks. Watch your breath, do not hesitate to count the inhalation and exhalation.
We put on "war paint" with sunscreen and put on glasses. – Finished? Come on!
You will remember this climb. This is a very difficult page. After all, we move three days and three nights with the entire warehouse and the supply of food and gasoline. We will only spend the night twice around 3700, but I always take an additional daily supply of food and gas. It has never been useful before. However, I and the first aid kit change almost every three years when the ampoules have expired. And I'm always glad that it wasn't useful either. It won't be easy here without a load.
We compete in speed with snails and turtles. The step is shorter. At the beginning of the ascent there are still the remains of the path, everything is still known, although it is much more difficult. An icefall spreads to the left. Strangely, the glacier flows, the ice has a certain plasticity. But when the rocky surface on which the glacier is moving suffers a gap, a drop, the plasticity of the ice ends. And the ice begins to dissolve in individual blocks of different sizes and shapes, the glacier is becoming more and more vertical. That is the icefall.
The whole "decent" part of the climb is behind, the most uncomfortable part is in front of us. There is no trace at all. The group gathers on a large flat stone on the ridge. Now it is natural for them to spit on any beauty from a great height – it is difficult, it dries out in the mouth and larynx as if the luggage was heavier. We rush down to the stones, sometimes without taking the backpack off – there isn't always a place to put it down, but if you miss the load, run after it, oh how far! Clean your breath. I wait until the last participants arrive and sit, wait a few minutes: – Attention! Listen to me! Let's go higher, please, you don't have to go anywhere – neither right nor left, just like me, lane in lane. Get tight, the distance is one step. Now stones can come out from under your feet. In a dense group, the stone has no time to accelerate. I remind you that when someone breaks a stone under your feet, the command "Stone!" Is given with all your strength to your lungs. Not under my breath and not only loudly, but with all the strength of my lungs! Otherwise you just won't hear the ones below. Everyone else stops and looks up to understand where the danger is coming from.
The likelihood of such stones disappearing here is not very high, especially when ascending, when descending, it gets worse. But the group needs to understand what collective security is right now.
I proceed carefully and load the prop smoothly. Experience has shown that I can drive faster, of course. But I "listen" to the group – the boys at this speed don't yet know how to go.
Whenever I see a flattened crest, the location of our new camp, I understand that a miracle has happened to a few more people: they have overcome this difficult climb, now they will stand up, catch their breath and be surprised. And there is something to surprise! First things first, a small one, but a victory. In addition, there is a panoramic view of the entire second stage of the Shaurtu glacier and a wonderful view of the path that leads past.
The huge triangular north face of the Salynan summit, to the right of the amazing comma – the Ortokar summit, where only one person can fit (my partner and I didn't match).
Between these peaks is the long snow-ice saddle of the difficult Ortokar pass, from which ice falls and small avalanches occur regularly.
On the top step is the beautiful pyramid of the MVTU summit, which we have already seen from the top of Korus, but from the other side. To the right of the summit, a group climbs up to the Sports Friendship Pass. Apparently they came out with us at about the same time, maybe a little earlier. Rare picture. In general, few people visit this gorge.
And then finally the last member upstairs. It is interesting that after the first ascent to 3000 nights under the Korupass there are no more emotions. The boys got used to it, they no longer rave about the same statements and exclamations. But of course the landscape is fascinating. Now they are beginning to understand what it means "You are not a level here, the climate is different here …"
The sun is already high and the clock is only ten in the morning. Congratulations to everyone on a new frontier. No one had slept by 3700.
The weather is great, but the clouds from Georgia are not very inspiring. It looks like it will rain later. I love this place for the view and for the fact that it is no longer raining at this height, but only snow. Hail happens, but it's better than open water from the sky.
After lunch we have a new task – we will master cats. They are needed on our climbing route to Elbrus. Everything is of course easier there, since it will in fact not be ice, but firn – that is recrystallized snow. The substance is harder than snow, even in the form of a crust, but it is far from hardness up to today's glacier, ie the perennial glacier ice. And we'll mainly train on ice. I always give my participants an example that the Romans had training weapons that were twice as heavy as the military ones.
Mastering cats primarily requires patience. There is no bridle, but step by step. And first you have to learn how to wear them properly. Oddly enough, but not everyone is given this immediately. And to learn how to put the foot exactly on a full foot and not just on the side teeth … Surprisingly, walking on the front teeth of a steeper person is usually easier than moving on a full foot. But for us, the front teeth are an interesting experiment rather than a necessary skill. On Elbrus we simply won't have the steepness of the slope, which requires movement on the front teeth.
On the first day we train the simplest skills for automation. Slopes alternate with descents and cross movements, ie horizontally along the slope. Monotonous exercises naturally tire, get bored. But there is no other way.
I was not in vain fear of the clouds from Georgia. At some point it quickly gets dark and it starts to snow. Fortunately, we had already finished our lessons and were waiting for the weather in the tent for dinner. I would like to remind you again that the weather in the mountains can deteriorate quickly. So you have to be prepared for such a quick change at any time.
And I say again that it is the weather factor that becomes the main reason for the death of even trained climbers on Elbrus. And what can we say about the arrogant "dummies" who have read the Internet heresy, seen enough of the pictures and let the obvious accessibility of the route "tear it out of its catches and all tendons". And then the rescuers work and unfortunately with different finals, including the "200 charge" … The numbers are scary, at some point there is silence in the tent. I try to defuse the situation: – That is why we only go when the weather is nice and the forecast is favorable. And why should you reach such a summit that you can no longer see anything from above? When can you still see such a panorama?
The night was calm and without incident. The next day, almost everything is about cats and on the move. We learn to step over small cracks, to walk up and down the different corners of the glacier.
And of course the nearby icefall is always interesting, picturesque, photogenic.
After lunch we leave a hundred meters above the camp. This is a kind of classification for cats. The group is doing quite well and now I am calm – this element was mastered well.
The return to the camp, the overnight stay and the subsequent descent to the base camp seem instantaneous. We say goodbye to Chegem. And as always, I'm sorry to part with this sparsely populated canyon. The main goal lies ahead of us – Elbrus.