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Author: Pavel Slusar, Kiev

Arfen-Chair-Buroon – wall above the sea
Story about the summit on Rodeo 6A, VI, A3, 300 m.

To the south-east from Balaklava , approximately in 8 km along the seacoast, a 240-m rectilinear triangular wall rises from the sea. It closes the South-Western ridge of Arfen-Chair-Buroon and it is separated from the main massif by a deep chasm. One can reach the foot of the wall by sea approximately in an hour from Balaklava or in half an hour from Batiliman (Laspi village).

The wall amazes with its steepness, form accuracy and nail relief. It rises vertically above the sea and dip into the blue deep for more than 80 m. In the right section of the wall there is a huge dark overhang. From the open sea it is difficult to estimate the proportions of the wall. May be, the reason of this effect is a contrast between horizontal surface of the sea and the vertical rock.

For the first time I saw this peak in summer 1992, swimming by ship from Sevastopol to Yalta . An idea of ascent came immediately and, as it turned out, I was not alone. That very year alpinists from Sevastopol Alexander Lyapun and Sergey Streltcov ascended along the center of the “triangle” and called their route “Mirage”.

I decided to make my own route on the wall – on its right, overhanging part through the black cornice. My partner was a climber from Zhitomir Mikhail Kalnichenko, my friend and constant competitor on the climbing competitions. In June 2000 we successfully climbed the route and called it “Rodeo”. It answers its nature, technical grade and our emotions during the ascent.

In august 1995 we went to the wall for exploration.

We had to clear out all probable aspects of the ascent, including the location of the base camp, ways to the foot of the wall, grade of the route and climbing tactics, alpinist and bivouac equipment, weather conditions in the region, condition of the sea, probable risk factors. It became clear that this wall cannot be taken on impulse and the sure ascent requires a prepared expedition, good equipment and good sport shape of the climbers.

Batiliman and our peak, separated from the “mainland” by the vertical rocks. During the week we swam to the wall every day on an inflatable rubber dinghy. It took about 25-30 min one way, depending on the waves and wind. As a result of this expedition we collected interesting photo and video materials, made all the necessary observations, estimated the cruxes of the future route and grades of its separate sections, explored the relief and drew up the tactic of our future ascent.

We returned to the wall in August 1998, well equipped and prepared, with very serious intentions. During 3 working days we ascended about 100 m from the sea by the nail face, then we were stopped by weather and storm.

How to hook on the wall from the boat? It is very important not to injure the boat by the sharp edges of mussels, stuck to the rock, in other case we would have serious problems (the nearest coast is in one and a half kilometers). It is quite difficult because the waves had an amplitude 1 m and more. It is not easy to stand up straight on the weak boat which rises up the wave crest and then falling down.

Making up your mind to do it, you make a step and with a skyhook fix yourself on an edge on the nail wall. When the boat floats off, you stay alone above the sea at the foot of the high wall, and the waves try to throw water over you and wash down to the sea. It is slippery, steeply – but you must climb: you can't return to the boat without bathing. For the nearest 8 m you have only one task: to fix the first belay and not to fall down with all the equipment and in climber's shoes.

Only when this step is successfully made and both climbers reach the first belay point, a normal 6-grade ascent begins.

Later, telling about the ascent, I often heard comments like: “Say, falling into the water is safe. What is the depth under the wall ? 80 m ? You could not reach the bottom”. We don't know if it is so, because we didn't fall into the water, as well as we didn't have any whippers (but we turned over in our boat in the waves). According to our estimates, falling down to the water with the full set of equipment from 10-30 m and more can bring to unpredictable consequences. That's why we climbed without a hurry and with awareness of responsibility.

Once more we went to this route to win in the middle of June 2000. 5 days running (from 14 to 18 of June) we waited for the weather until the mountain let us come to it. The sea water was so mixed by wind that its temperature reduced to 9 centigrade. The sun warmed the air but for a week the sea emitted cold as a fridge. We climbed accurately but rapidly. After passing known inferior section, we successfully climbed the upper, overhanging part of the wall. On June 23 2000 in 5 PM we ascended on the summit.

I can't but mention that the route keeps in suspence and doesn't let you rest along the whole length. It seemed to us that the most difficult was its upper section – approach to the “black cornice” with more than 10 m balcony, the ascent on the cornice itself in its right part and climbing through the boulge to the gray slabs above the cornice. When I climbed this section, I ped a bolt, and it fell down into the sea without touching the wall.

My partner and I leaded in turn. I am grateful to Misha because I could rely on him in the most difficult moments of the ascent. Sometimes we couldn't see each other and the oral commands were damped by wind, but I was always sure that Misha understands my actions and trusts me and won't mistake himself. This feeling accompanied us during all the summit and it became one of the main aspects of our success.

The peculiarities of our ascent include constantly waving sea, the wind, blowing off the brain, the rain with hail, the attempts of the marine guard to check our documents, the tourists from the multiple ships who answered us how we were going to descend, the heating sun, the fishermen of Balaklava who supported us reservedly and implicitly, the birds, fluttering out from the wall cracks, unscared lizards living on this rock. Every day, filled with struggle and joy of victories, ended in the Crimean evening with the hot Sun which dwindled in the sea.

The most thrilling moment was when we reached the summit. The sea glittered far below. To the opened west an unforgettable view to the rocks of Injir (fig) and two Sails.

Below there are the technical details for those who would want to share our adventure: ascent passport, technical scheme of our route, the deions of its sections, and our recommendations for future climbers.

The passport of the ascent

The ascent class – climbing

Crimea, cape Aya

Arfen-Chair-Buroon peak, the right part of the South-Western wall, “Rodeo” route.

6A grade is suggested (first ascent).

Height difference 240 m

Route length – 300 m

Length of the wall section – 250 m

Length of the 6-grade sections – 250 m

Average steepness of the wall part – 90 degrees

Bolts placed:

Rock 15/12

Jumper 33/11

Stoppers 57/18

Climbing hours 50 (5 days)

The participants of the ascend:

Slusar Pavel Borisovich ( Kiev )

Kalnichenko Mikhail Vasilievich (Zhitomir)

Start: 19.06.2000

Summit : 23.06.2000

Return : 23.06.2000


Technical scheme of “Rodeo” route

Deion of its parts

R0 - R1: Start from the water – overhang of 95-100 degree. It is ascended with sky hooks. The beginning of the route is marked by the sign on the wall: “Rodeo route, 23.06.2000”. 8 m from the water 2 bolts are placed. Then the route goes to the right and upwards along the micro crack system. Belay with the small stoppers. In the middle of the section a bolt is placed. Climbing is much exerted . On the belay point 2 strong bolts are placed . Belay point is safe, under the overhang, hanging.

R1 - R2: the section starts with 4-m overhang which is free climbable. Then it is a system of walls and vertical cracks. Belay facilities are restricted because of the poor relief and steepness. 4 good bolts are placed. Belay point is hanging on good bolts.

R2 - R3: it is a system of overhanging boulges, leading out to the ledge – so-called nest. A reliable belay point . Strong bolts . Hang-sitting night is possible with the facilities for cooking. Here you can wait for the weather, covering with a tent or cloak.

R3 - R4: difficult overhanging section which leads to cornices. Much exerted climbing. Small and middle stoppers are used for belay. 4 good bolts are placed. The relief consists of a system of cracks and walls. In common there are solid rocks. Belay point is half-hanging on 2 good bolts in a suitable place.

R 4 - R 6: Crux section . An overhanging crack located under the cornices. Very difficult climbing, mainly using sky hooks and AID. 5 bolts are placed. It is the most overhanging section. Line goes to the left and upwards under the cornices in 200 m above the sea. The belay points are good, made in suitable places, with good bolts.

R6 - R7: difficult climbing on the plates, belay is made with small stoppers and bolts. The section leads to the ridge.

R7 - R8: this ridge section can't be called easy: this is a system of ledges and overhanging boulges. Is free ascendable. Belay is made by bolts and stoppers.

R8: the summit – a horizontal section 2 х 2 m with a growing tree. A suitable place for rest.

Remarks and recommendations

1. The ascent took 5 working days with fixing line up and descents during the ascent for nights to the Lost world (30 minutes to the east on our boat)

2. You must have a reserve of water and medicines on the route for the case of probable term.

3. The route is sunlit from 12 AM to 20.30 in June. We recommend to start climbing at 6-7 AM.

4. From the summit you can descend not only by the route, but also by the ledges in Kazan-Dere (to the west). This way used the group of A. Lyapun after my ascent.

5. The control point is in a plastic bottle tied to the tree on the peak.

6. The necessary set of equipment must include 2 ropes (belay and line ones), a set of stoppers and friends, bolts, ascenders for every participant. Pros and a number of way belay points are already made with good bolts. An optimal group size is 2 people plus observers on the water. The route is well seen from the sea, an oral communication is possible.

7. The route is difficult but logical and goes along the solid rocks. For the case of strong wind a system of commands between the partners is necessary.

8. Taking into consideration the unstable weather on the sea, it is reasonable to have a reserve variant of descent and clothes for wind and rain. A boat using for transportation of ascenders to the start and evacuation from it is exposed to all the marine dangers, so you must be ready to an unexpected turn and probable staying on the wall if the boat can't help (for example, in R3 point). It makes an additional complicity of the route.

9. According to the information of the marine guard, the water depth under the route is 80 m.

10. In good weather the wind blows along the wall of Arfen-Chair-Buroon. It can be rather strong and then the boat can't reach the rock even in good sunny weather. This fact must be taken into consideration for not wasting the time good for the climbing.

11. The first ascenders had such time variants:

1 day - R0 - R2

2 day - R2 - R4

3 day - R4 - R5

4 day - R5 - R6

5 day - R6 - R8.


12. The descent from the summit along the route line takes 2 hours.


We wish you every success!

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