In August 2005 two of climbers Pavel
Shabalin and Iljas Tuhvatullin have climbed a new route on Khan
Tengri North Face. For the first time this Face was climbed by the
duo, in the Alpine style. Here's the story by Iljas Tuhvatullin.
about fingers when look at the Moon ".
The Life is possible only in unsafe conditions.
The cemetery is the most safe place.
But there is no life...".
even may be ourself
The necessary foreword
World has gone crazy of different records. Therefore I have to tell,
that we make our climbs not for them. Simply, when you are engaged
in something for a long time, it would be desirable to do what nobody
had done and to prove, that if you want something, it necessarily
will turn out. And one more: we never climb to fight and die
for an idea. We go to live one more page of our life.
climb differed from others by its silence. We enjoyed the silence.
We both were related so close that could speak without words and
feel each other without sounds and gestures. Really our two souls
joined the whole one. And the Face became the source feeding us
with energy - we had never seen the mountain's face which's more
capricious and more beautiful than that one. We did not climb the
Face, no. And the summit wasn't our goal. We went on the road without
the end, we were dissolved in the nature. Therefore we could climb
much. Every day, presented to us by our destiny, we got as the gift
and we were pleased even for an extremely strong wind - so strong
that we couldn't believe how could it be.
saw and felt something what only few of people can see and feel.
And even when it seemed, that we reached the limit where's no
the way back, we were sure, that its the continuation of Way, our
Way home. And the more we dreamed about home, the greater was
nature's pressure, which have forced us, like it wanted to ask:
" Where do you go and why do you spend the rest of your energy?
- here's your home, you haven't to go further, relax - you have
already reached the place
you wanted". It's like an idea, that the person should not
have been attached to something, but only to live and make true
decisions, free from the Past. There is only the Present.
reminded sometimes - clever man don't climb. But I'm sure, that
human's development is provided only by his own experience and only
not through the door of mind - but through any other door. Really,
clever man won't climb, but he's not happy, but we are free at any
moment, we can turn back from the mountains, nothing holds us.
our climbs together with Pavel the time isn't important for us.
It simply does not exist. We are happy, that climb together this
beautiful Mountain, and our climb can last eternally, forever. It
doesn't matter - where we climb, how many we climb, - it does not
have the end, it does not have the beginning, it was and will be
always: me, he and the Mountain. When the climb comes to the end,
we feel like we come up from the sea on a land but only for again
to appear in the sea of our salty feelings, such pleasant for the
happened this time again...
slowly descending down to Camp 2 at 5600 m, we know, that nobody
are there. All have already descended. Today's August, 30th, the
beginning of Winter on Tien Shan. And suddenly - " Pasha! Look!
- we saw the tent, or its only a dream ? " - I rattle to my
partner. " Hey, is anybody here - water!, water! " - we
did not drink during 3 days. Nobody responds to our shout. "May,
there're nobody" - I thought, but suddenly the head is putting
out the tent. I do not trust my eyes: " Really the Mountain
has decided to release us? " The Facel looked at us silently.
Thanks you for all: for a cold, for a wind, for difficulties. It
was a serious lesson. A lesson by strict, but the fair parent
to the self-confident children.
has begun so.
came to North Inylchek glacier as usually - in the beginning of
August. Acclimatization has passed well, we were ready to start
on 15-th. We decided to leave in 2 a.m., but as soon as we came
out from a dining tent, we have plunged into a dense fog. The bad
weather "has been drained in" from the valley below. We
went to sleep in tents silently and in 4 a.m., on sunrise, Pavel
has interested: " Well, shall we start? ". Having thought,
I have told: " we shall not have time to slip bottom part,
we can catch an avalanche. Give we shall wait ". We were right:
the following some days were stormed with a bad weather, there was
a snow, and we have again avoided a trap which the nature has prepared
there is nothing more burdensomely, than to wait. Days tried to
keep step with days, and weather did not improve. The wall as a
white shroud towered above us, and it seemed, that we shouldn't
climb it this year. I accepted the nature's whims submissively.
Let it be, that must be. If it is impossible to change a situation
- we have to accept it. Nothing depends on us. If fair, I even was
glad to a bad weather. It was a unique argument to turn back from
the Wall, to refuse an climb. First time I did not want to climb.
" Probably, I grow old " - I searched for an explanation
to my feelings. We already were in 2003 on this North Face and know,
how difficult it is. That days I have desided, that never come there
this year I mentally hoped, that Pavel won't be successful to find
sponsors for this expedition. But in May he called me and cried:
" All is OK - we shall go! " It was one of rare cases
when I could not refuse. The mousetrap has slammed, and now - do
you want or not - it is necessary to go. And here I wander under
the Face, throwing on it slanting sights - will start up, will not
19th. The weather improved, and a frost has struck in evening
- it was an attribute of good weather. " Well... ?? - Yes!
" We speak and once again we reconsider the backpacks. It guards,
that we take only four gas cylinders, but Pavel does an emphasis
on fast climb, and I concede to his arguments.
20th 3a.m. All sky's covered by the stars, but is not cold,
we are dressed like in 2003 - the minimum. The underwear POWER STRETCH,
suits POLARTEC WIND PRO, wind-stopper suits DERMIZAX. In our backpacks
we have only extreme light down sweaters, perfectly proved on Everest
North Face, spare gloves and mittens. With headlamps we pass a zone
of cracks and when the dawn began at the left, we already cost under
the route. All were precisely and efficiently: we have put on, have
hanged out the equipment, and began to climb. Pavel went first,
me - the second. This sequence has developed for us for a long time,
and it does not upset me: I'm able to work first too. But I better
carry more loads, and Pavel is the best who climb the mixt sites.
This Face is not a toy and consequently everyone does that he's
able to do better.
easily pass through a berg and begin to climb. The mountain wakes
up. It is cleared from the snow which have collected for a week,
and showers us with dry avalanches from time to time, which, however,
do not deliver some difficults for us. Ice tools AWAX and crampons
VECTOR hold us well on the ice, therefore we quickly move via the
planned way. Having reached the first rocky island, we climb to
the right upwards in a direction of the cascade of the walls covered
by an ice. Last year on this place, in bad weather, Polish climbers
turned back, but now the weather is fine, so we slip this site in
good mood. Working, we do not notice, that it starts to get dark.
Usually we don't take watches with ourselves (and what for?) And
consequently we are guided by the sun. It has now seemed to the
right of the wall, reminding, that it's not more than an hour for
the organization of bivyak. This evening we work to the very darkness,
so not having found a suitable place for the tent. It is necessary
to cut down a shelf where we can spend the night sitting. Finished,
we take seat on a shelf, covered with tent and start to heat an
ice to make a supper which this evening consists of red caviar
(joking apart) with crackers and tea. It is class! Base camp is
shone below like the little star. We are at the altitude of 4800
m. Today there was the longest working day, and we are completely
satisfied by the result. Confused only by one thing - it is impossible
to remove boots, they can fall downwards.
21st. Early morning. Weather's good, rare clouds float on the
sky. We have breakfast and then begin to work. Difficult rocky sites
wait us ahead. And again our iceaxeses please us: they cling to
the rocks which have been covered by a snow, finding an invisible
relief there.The relief is not rich. Anchors gain us. They easily
bite into a rock and superb hold. This's like a miracle. But only
they are beaten out hardly. Well, it's not a problem. Grows dark.
Pavel continues to climb, but we can't find the place for the tent.
I start to become angry about him: " How many walls it is
necessary to climb to understand, that it is necessary to begin
to search for the place for spending the night two hours prior to
a sunset? You see, that the Mountain is not predisposed to give
us gifts. It is time to stop and cut down a shelf ". If late
to stop for spending the night next day you will late come to work.
The organism in any way demands
the rest. At last, we find a suitable place, it is necessary only
to trample a snow under a rocky tooth. In an hour the small platform
is ready. We fill it for the "cementation" by the rests
of water from a flask and own organisms, and set the tent.
words about the tent. It is model SOLO (manufactured by Red Fox),
made specially for such kind of climbs. It is spacious enough.
Even if it's not place enough for the tent, and edges of tent are
groundless, it is possible to live in it. Here and now, having come
into two different doors, we tighten tubes and remove our boots
with pleasure - it is necessary for our legs to have a rest completely,
or frostbites are inevitable. We make a supper and, having eaten,
fall into a dream. And suddenly, in full darkness, the avalanche
falls on us. I get something firm on my head. Thank God, the tent
has resisted, and there are no visible damages on it. We drink 50
gramm of alcoghol to relax, and again we sit down to sleep. Just
in case the rest of night we spend in helmets.
22nd. Have found out in the morning, that an avalanche has taken
down a shovel which we have left outside. It is a pity, we planned
to use it as a snow anchor when climbing the top snow fields. Weather's
good and, not delaying, we start to work. Pavel, as always climb
accurately, in a direction of a rocky triangle. It seems, that the
rock's close, but it's deceptive impression - it's too far ... Having
rounded the next rocky wall, we decide to climb it on the right
edge. Having come for a corner, we find out a scrap of an old cord
into an ice. " Yes!", we are on a way where people have
already been in the past. Such finds always warm the soul and install
confidence, that you are on the right way. " Probably, it is
cords of Myslovsky team" - we think. Pavel climbs a vertical
site using iceaxes, and I catch myself on an idea: " and if
he is worse than well-known Mauro Bole - the famous Italian, whose
nickname is " Bubu " - he's
famous for the whole World for his technics? "Fixed ropes are
ready " - unexpectedly quickly cried Pavel, and I, having charged
a back by hated backpack, climb upwards. Having consulted, we decide
to stop for the night earlier - it is necessary to rest. Despite
of the wind, we set the tent quickly and fixed it by AWAXes. Having
filled a bag of a snow for preparation of water, we come into the
tent. The wind amplifies, but in our house are warmly and cosy,
the stove's working, makes a supper. At last - we can extend our
legs. You won't feel such pleasure laying on the sofa! Happy, we
fall into a dream.
23rd. In the morning, having looked out of tent, I notice narrow
feathers of clouds in the sky. Generally it's the sign of the change
of weather. " Well, time will tell " - we decide and start
to cook the breakfast. And here one more surprise - a stove refuses
to work! We start to count variants, and find not a lot of them.
If we shall not repair the stove- it'll be necessary to go down.
Being facilitated, we have not took flat-nose pliers to the climb.
And it difficult to diassemble the stove without it. But, as people
say: " If you have been eaten, you have two exits at least".
We have found a way this time too. We grind an atomizer of the stove
for the latch of a carabine. We found the dust inside. How has it
got there - we can't undrstand, but the fact remains the fact. Mystics.
lost the midday on repair of the stove, we start to the route. We
are awaited by a rocky triangle - a key site of the bottom part
of a wall. Pavel works first, me - second. For many years I have
already got used to a feeling of " expectation of fall".
It is considered to be, that to work first is more difficult, probably,
it's really so. But I would not hasten to divide the work we do
together to difficult and easy one. Try to stay on a wind and
a cold of motionlessly some hours, modelling the actions on a case
of fall in your mind. May, it is easier to climb by myself,
than constantly to be in a nervous pressure. To honour of my partner
I wish to note, that there were very few such cases during the long
time of our joint climbs. In my consciousness Pavel felt much more
times, and each time I was possible to keep him. Here and now he
climb on the whole rope. The bottom station is fixed on one "stopper"
only. " It is not enough to keep him in the falling" -
I think - " it'll be necessary to pickle more rope meters in
case of it". But Pavel confidently climbs the rope without
an intermediate points. The relief's covered by the snow and also
is poor on cracks. It is feature of Khan Tengri North Face. It is
necessary to be able to climb reliably with iceaxes. And my partner
shows he can. We pass rocks, and the route deduces us on the snow
most difficult for Pavel - the monotonous work in a friable snow.
On the last climb (Everest North Face -
ed. note) he even get a nervous failure and I had there
to work first. It is interesting, how will he this time? I am ready
to replace him, but, in my opinion, it'll be better, if he will
overcome himself, and will work first. Step by step, overcoming
a loose snow, we slowly move ahead to a following rocky ridge. The
snow though also deep, but there're not an avalanche danger, therefore
we monotonously hour after an hour, meter behind meter we win the
space from a snow. We pass the traverse on rocks simultaneously
and through an internal corner get out on a ridge. There are "
the foreheads " ahead, covered by the snow. As usual, the wind
amplifies to the evening, covering by itself a huge red topmost
tower. We are lucky - we find a ready place for the tent, where
we can lay.
24th. The day is similar on previous like as two peas . The
destroyed rocks again are mixed with the deep friable snow. Floundering
in this "cream of wheat", completely exhausted, we creep
out on huge (2x2 m) place, laid out by slate tiles, which has been
laid out by Krasnoyarsk team in 1988.
August, 25th. The sky is tightened by clouds, the weather
finally worthened. The weariness saved up for last days is felt.
I'm worring about Pavel's boots. In spite of they are "
the advanced model ", but half-a-size less for him. And
it is very essential at high altitude: fingers of legs are squeezed
all the time. We climb via the snow tie which is on the level of
"wine-glass" and... " YES! " At last we reach
the belt of red
rocks. We are near the treasured goal. The vertical chimney has
imperceptibly involved us into the belly, and we accurately move
on it. Abruptly, very abruptly. Shabalin long potters above. The
snow and great pieces of ice fall on me. I turn aside from them
as I can. When it's already absolutely darkened, I hear: "Fixed
ropes are ready ". I went upward and see: under the dome-shaped
rocky carnise half-a-meter high Pavel sits and stupidly cuts down
a snowdrift. At night, with our headlamps, we hardly fix a rope
and set the tent. Today we again spend the night sitting, but thanks
for it too! Further - all as is usual: we melt snow, cook supper,
sit down to sleep in a pose of meditating monks. All the night the
storm wind. What will it bring for us?
26th. Altitude is 6350m. The wind does not decrease. Very cold.
Our condition after such spending the night is disgusting. Pavel
starts to work, I safe him and mentally going to remove our camp.
Today it is a hard problem: many horizontal sites, we'll not climb
without "pendula". " What shall we do and who is
easy now? " - banality occurs in my mind. Having climb two
pitches, we turn to the right. It seems to me, that Pavel climbs
somewhere wrong way - it's too difficult site ahead. But when he
find an empty shugar box, casually got stuck in a crack, I calm
has the category "super": the chimney which then passes
to the vertical destroyed wall. Pavel's OK again. Usually in
places where the probability of fall is very high, it orders: "closely".
And here it passes this site without visible difficulties. I
have only not to lag behind it and not to detain our climb. Pavel
try to warm his frozen fingers from time to time. Noticeably becomes
cold - the wind becomes much stronger above the col, as we expected.
It can blow us off. But it's the only way home for us - through
the top. We are too high to turn off.
a tiny snow ledge we cut down a platform (its size is in half of
bottom of tent) and we set there our small house. Having come inside,
I suddenly notice, that I'm shakes - I have too cold today. With
melancholy we look at last gas cylinder, it's enough only per day
and a half. We hope only on the deposit, that we have left at
the top in 2003. Pavel suffers from a cold too, his fingers are
white. Got frostbites? It would be desirable to think about something
good. In fact we swallowed "trental" before the climb
and our organism should consult. I'm saffering the stomachaich -
it's stronger from day to day, not passing pain. I can't adapt in
any way. There's nothing to be done - I have to suffer. The wind
grows in strength "behind a window" . Usually it decreases
a little by the evening, but today blows as if having forgotten
27th. The storm wind. In such conditions we gather for an work
longer asusual, deliberating, to go or to wait. Until the internal
voice will not prompt what to do. Already nearby midday (how much
we can defined it on our sensations because the sun was off this
day), we unwillingly creep out outside - hurricane's around. It
is good, that yesterday we have processed twenty meters rocks above
the place where spending the night. Pavel starts to climb slowly
on the fixed rope, I packed the tent. The wind blows like in a wind
tunnel, awful howl costs around. Through a wind thewords reache
me: " a fixed ropes are rea..." I understand, what does
it mean. Now my turn is. But it was necessary to me to be put out
only for an excess as my glasses for a second closes up with a snow.
I'm blind. It's not any reason to clean them, and an opportunity
too. And so I go blindly - the rope will finish. Having passed ten
meters, I begin to choke. There's no the air: it is carried away
by the wind, I feel full vacuum. The heart works as a machine gun
- just about overheat and jam. Bad ideas appeare in my head:
" ... probably, Salavat died in such situation on Makalu top
- heart has overheat..".(Makalu West
Face , 1997 - ed. note) Having rejected away evil thoughts,
I force itself to crawl up to Pavel. He has frozen hard by this
moment it. Through howl a wind I hear: " Let's to set tent,
it is necessary to wait ". We're still hope, that this hurricane
is not for ever. We are sittimg like little birds on the narrow
ledge, having enclosed under our backpacks, and covered by tent.
How long we have stayed there - I do not know. It seemed to us,
that very long, we already for a long time do not feel our legs,
they became as wooden, and the wind does not weaken for a second.
I do not remember, who of us first found a sensible idea to come
downwards to a platform. With improbable difficulties we set the
tent and, coming into it, we pray for one only: " If only it
has not been broken off! ". Have somehow melted ice and have
satisfied hungry and thirst, nearly having burnt our tent. So, we
have a small hole, in size of a fist, but not through. We're lucky!
We spent the night, not having closed eyes.
28th. We listen attentively to wind's howl in hope to catch
the slightest changes to the best. Sometimes it seems, that it calms
down and then we look to each other: " Well, shall we work
today? " It's not possible for us to lie very long time - our
gas has almost ended. It is necessary to go! The most of a chimney
is climbed, the short part remains. The blizzard storms around,
but from time to time in break of clouds we see the dark blue sky.
Slowly, step by step, Pavel accelerates and here we, at last, pass
this infinite chimney. The abrupt rocky crest grows to the sky,
and it seems, that it's very far up to the top. Sometimes we move
simultaneously, sometimes alternately. The climb seems infinite,
but the white top cap with huge snow flags is already visible ahead.
At last we pass through the ridge and find the thin lilac rope.
" Yes! We - on the top part of a Kouzmin route! The North Face
is climbed! ".
the candle end we try to burn out the rests of gas from last cylinder,
but all is vain. Have chewed a few snows. Though we're tired, we
can't asleep. We lay - and talk. Today, under our plan - is the
day of evacuation our base camp. If the last helicopter in that
season will depart, it is very bad for us. Imperceptibly our conversation
passes to a theme of future K2 West Face expedition. I fairly admit,
that have not decided yet, whether I shall take part in this project.
Pavel, like not hearing me, continues to tell with enthusiasm about
the beauty of the West Face, its features, about the principle of
selection of equipment and clothes. Really, Khan Tengri North
FAce is a poligon where the equipments for K2 is testing. Imperceptibly
we plunge into the dream, not guessing, what else difficulties wait
for us tomorrow. The bad weather storms still. We understand, that
it won't end soon. But all's the same for us - eally we have already
climbed the North Face.
29th. We gnaw dry bread for a breakfast - the heartburn begins
from them. But it's nesessary to eat something. Today we must
summit and go down to the col. And there we shall necessarily find
our depo with gas, and all will be OK. There's hurricane outdoor,
though the sun shines. Having packed the tent, we begin to climb,
slowly, very slowly - our forces are nearly off. In an hour we creep
out of a zone of a deep snow on a strong ice crust. Near to a chain
of traces we see the lemon. Pleasure without the limit - we split
this frozen tropical fruit and divide it fraternally. All changes
in our souls.
we see the long-awaited and familia-to-the-pain tripod. Summit!
Here our deposit should be. We go and looked under each stone.
But...- we find nothing. Eh, who's this economic climber? We
connect to the classic fixed ropes and began to descent. At 6400
m we find the rests of products: sugar, crackers, the nuts, two
frozen apples and two cucumbers. We start to gnaw cucumbers, and
then an apples. Fine. Have satisfied a little thirst. But to our
great regret, there're no gas too. We go further downwards. Few
and few forces... We pass 100 m and we fall into the snow, then
the next 100 m... " if only somebody have waited us" -
turns in the mind- " one day more - and we shall come ".
reach the col at 3 p.m. The Sun shines and the wind blows awfully.
Having left our backpacks, we start to rummage in the garbage bags
left by someone on the col. Yes, we have found 4 cylinders! "
They seem empty, but may we manage to squeeze something out of them
". We start to put tent and here happened someting that could
change all further course of events - what we always were afraid
of, but now is has struck us as a lightning. An impulse of a wind
has pulled the tent out from our hands and has incurred aside Northern
Inylchek. I stay, as if paralysed, thinking as we shall spend night
somewhere in the dug out snow hole. However Pavel with improbable
for his conditions speed, runs behind tent on the deep snow, and
catches it for edge during that moment when it appears above carnices,
and he falls in the snow. " Carnices! " - I have time
only to shout. Pavel lays long, resting. But the tent is reliably
clamped in his hand. We shall live!
found cylinders appear burnt to the bottom. It's very bad. Are you
sometime ate a fluffy snow? No effect from such meal. Half an hour
we shake a bowl with a snow mixed with some powder found there.
And, oh, miracle! The snow after jolting becomes damp - we received
quite good ice-cream. Only having eaten three bowls of this delicacy,
we have slightly satisfied thirst. Pavel's hand's fingers are absolutely
bad, black. I do him an prednizolon injection. We don't feel our
legs. We don't know how they are, because we do not remove boots
- we sit ready to come out at any moment. Even at night if only
the wind has calmed. My stomach does not give me rest too, the ulcer,
probably, has opened. I use ketorol, it will remove a pain in legs
and in a stomach.
30th. Morning does not bring the weather improvement. A strong
wind, visibility 50 meters. Again I do an prednizolon injection
to Pavel. The weather became better about the midday, we began to
descend. Traces has swept up. Slowly we went upwards, it seems,
there is no end. The mountain as if does not wish us to release,
barrier there where they should not be any more. Visibility again
became such, that it is impossible to make out even tags on a track.
We go on a rope to not to fail in the numerous hidden cracks. Sometimes
we sit down, waiting, that the weather improve slightly. In a snow
till the belt, overcoming impulses of a gale-force wind, we creep
out on 6150 m- a shoulder of Chapaeva peak. That's all, now - only
downwards! We throw our torned rope and begin to descent. I go first,
pulling out fixed rope from a deep snow. Not clearly, as Pavel
works by his freezed hands. In the second camp on 5600m we meet
the Kazakh climbers - they wait for us...
to 1 a.m. August, 31st we fall in embraces of our friends and relatives.
Natasha and Sanych with headlamps meet us on a glacier. In the early
morning heli - familiar 103-rd board- takes all of us away to "continent".
In Karkara we said goodbye to friends who became us more, than friends
- to Lena Kalashnikova, Kazbek Valiev, Jury Moiseyev, Sanja Skornjakov,
with the commander of helicopter Shaimbet and the second pilot Ilhom.
Friends, who never wil take off. It was more difficult for them,
than to us, because they waited and trusted in us, not having the
information during the whole four days.
was the last day of August, the end of summer, and the hospital
awaited for me and Pavel, and doctor's verdicts, all our future
destiny depends on. But I firmly know - all will be good for us.
that happens with us, already occured with many teams. There is
such phrase: " If the dog has bitten you - it is not news.
And here if you have bitten a dog - it is news, noteworthy ".
And so, from this point of view our climb has been filled "
not by news ". Though journalists can to apply enthusiastic
epithets: "superextreme", " for the first time ",
"high-speed", etc., but I is assured, their diligence
are vain - we there climbed not for that. Even because no achievements
can justify frostbite fingers and the undermined health. All this
is nonsense. And if someone speaks you another, do not trust him,
it is simple not sincere with you, and with himself too.
often asked: " How many do you get for your climbs? "People
have forgotten, that there are things which cannot be bought, even
by big money. How many there is a kindness? How many there is a
friendship? How many there is a love? Answer me, people! We find
new friends in our travel, we meet responsiveness and understanding
of absolutely extraneous people. How many there is a sensation of
happiness when you stay at the summit? The Happiness cannot be bought,
you come to it through losses and experiences which a life and mountains
give us. People, be happy!
yours, Iljas Tuhvatullin
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