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Author: Koval Viktor,
Winter 2008. Bezengi. Gestola. Northern Wall. The route of M. Hergiani
“Nothing serious” – I appeased friends had come to us, - “we can do without supports, there were no tents of marmot before, too, after all…”. It became very dark. In spite of the fact we had set off for the route at 4 o’clock in the morning in pitch darkness (days in the Caucasus were breaking at 7 o’clock in the morning in January), we had not enough light time to the most evenly dangerous part of the route – ice falling and snow-ice faults under the wall. For two more hours we were making a ledge in the slope and at the end crept into formless bag of the tent. And we felt nothing was too bad!
The next morning we appreciated extremely dangerous for avalanches snow-ice faults near the bottom of the wall and decided to make traverse to the bottom of our counterfort not along the slope, as pioneers had done, but along the rocks. It was noticeably harder, but safer: it was possible to organize belay there.
As usual, darkness stole up insensibly. Even downwards, in the alpinistic center “Bezengi”, reading the deion of pioneers, I had paid attention to the fact there were almost no places to pass nights on the route (the report of Mikhail Hergiani had been lost, only probable line of his climb along the wall was known. In August 1969 the route was passed by the team of four alpinists leading by P. Egorov. And in August 1985 the team of instructors of alpinistic center Bezengi leading by A. Kolchin also managed to pass the route. There was one more attempt on the route in 1972, but it ended with the death of two-man team V. Koronniy – A. Sokolov). It took three hours to organize a ledge useful to pass the night. For this we turn into quarrier: we threateningly and energetically brandished with tools, getting into the rock of the wall and even broke two choppers Quark and one avalanche spade.
And we not vainly were afraid of the dangerous lowest part of our route: ice falling from the shoulder of Gestola broke most part of the line of our climb to the wall by powerful avalanche.
By the evening of the third day we climbed up to small snow edge, connecting counterfort and the main bulwark of the wall. There we made day-long stop, that we spent on processing the main bulwark of the wall. We managed to fix five ropes, three of which were very difficult. Rocks were covered with ice, average steepness – about 80-85 degrees. Sasha Gukov ad Sergey Kondrashkin, being hung round with ferrata turned back to our bivouac when it had got dark already…
About the weather: all the days were clear and cloudless. And when tender January sun in the mornings lighted for about hour and a half our northern wall, it became warm up to -25 degree. At about 10 o’clock in the morning straight sunny rows left us and up to evening the pointer of thermometer became frozen somewhere between the points -30 and -35 degrees. There was almost no wind, and for that fact we said him great human thanks.
One more sitting night-pass and we came to the homestretch. That day I climbed as a leader. I tried to rise and went a little bit to the right from the top. It was impossible to come to the edge to the left from the top, and the coming was dangerous because of overhanging ice cornices. The same situation was if climbing straight forward. To the right from the top there was an unnoticeable break in the line of cornices, and I went in the direction of it.
There we completed traditional photosession, then took the note of our friend from Samara and Sankt-Petersburg. Careful gays, they left a chocolate for us and wrote the note at the retro post card of nu-style… Oh, how we wanted to descend to the Earth!
We passed the night on the shoulder and in the morning quickly run down, along the edge, via the summit 4310. On the turning of the main branch of Bezengiysky glacier, Kirill Ivanov and Peter Kuzenkov met us, they gave us tea from thermos. By darkness we came to the camp…
Gestola is a very beautiful mountain. Its slender pyramid attracts and summons everyone, who has been to the Bezengiysky canyon. And the route of Hergiani to Gestola is also very beautiful and attractive, and even a little bit defiant. And we couldn’t stand up against their beauty…
The information that in the last classifier the grade of difficulty of the route was lowered from 6a to 5b surprised us a lot. It is more than strange, taking into account that there were only 3 passing the route, and the last one took place 23 years ago. Comments here are needless. Although the route is not for those who need a check. It is simply a very beautiful mountain and a very beautiful route…
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