(South-East Ridge: solo by Valery Babanov)

Himalaya, September-October, 2002

Sponsors: Sportmaster, BASK, BEAL, Simond, AlvoTitanium, Nordway, ASOLO, CANON

V. Babanov's solo first ascent of the North Face of Meru Central (Autumn 2001) was awarded for the most important mountaineering achievement in 2001 at Piolet d'Or 2002

3 November, 2002 In the 2nd of November Valery called by the satellite phone from the BC: the expedition is over. We have two serious reasons:

  • storm winds
  • the end of my permit.

After 40 days of the hard work on the route Valery reached 6300m. 3-4 November Valery and Olga plan to be in Namche Bazar, 10 Nov. - in Kathmandu. All are fine!

The message was transmitted with the satellite phone provided by BASK company.

Information received from BASK


25 October, 2002 Hi to all.

Today is October 23. Almost 2 weeks we were unable to get in contact with you. This silence was caused by failure of the settings of our sattelite phone. Only today, almost by "trial-and-error" method we managed to start it again.

Now about the expedition. Since October 8 to 12 the whole region was under snowfall and I resumed climbing only on Oct. 13th. I've worked out the following schedule: two days of climbing with a bivy thn descend to the base camp (at 5200 m) for the day of rest.

By Oct. 20th I reached 6300m and I'm just in the vicinity of the so-called "Devil tower". Likely, this is the most difficult part with length of 250 m on the 1.5 km steep pillar. It is a combination of vertical rocks with peculiar snow formations with difficulties in organisation of belay. Many expeditions retreated from this particular place. Jeff Low and Mark Twight, who've made the first attempt, graded this part as 6b/A4 at the altitude of 6300-6400 m.

For the three last days I'm in the Base Camp. Climbing is impossible due to hurricane-like winds. Snow flags from Nuptse's ridge extend for few hundred meters. Today there was a snow storm in the BC.

However, I continue fighting! Tommorrow I'll try to resume climbing if weather will be suitable. Hopefully, the phone will work and we will be able to contact you on a regular basis.

All the best,
Valery, Olga.

23.10.02 15:45

The message was transmitted with the satellite phone provided by BASK company.

Information received from BASK

Translated by Andrei Shiryaev

21 October, 2002

Valery has some problems with the satellite phone. He reached 6100m (message from V. Bogoukov, who was in Nuptse BC)

BASK 19.10.02

12 October, 2002 Hi all!

Today is October 9th, we are in the Base Camp awaiting good weather. During whole last night and today we have continuous snowfall. The Mountain is almost invisible. Yesterday was not a very good day either.

During 5, 6 and 7th October I managed to reach 6000 meters. My ascent is going rather slowly, mostly due to snow. Relief is difficult, in many cases sno is "empty" and often steep. Snow covers rocky plates and belay is not safe. Rocks are the only real support.

As I told already the snow is "empty", crystallised. This means that you step into it as if into empty volume, neither feet nor hands can find a solid support. Above 6000 steep snow fields up to 100 meters long are expected; this worries me a bit in a sense of climbing there. The steepness of some parts reaches 75 degrees. Well, some solution will be found!! We'll continue.

Thanks again for a good weather forecast. Best wishes to everybody
Valery, Olga. 9.10.2002, 12:26

The message was transmitted with the satellite phone provided by BASK company.

Information received from BASK

Translated by Andrei Shiryaev

9 October, 2002 Hi to all!

Thanks for the weather forecast, which we obtained recently. Indeed, during several last days the weather is nice, sunny, no precipitation.

Yesterday I came down from the Base Camp and spend a night at 5700. I have climbed the lower rocky face and reached ice and snow. Once again the Himalaya scale amased me: from below the height of the face looks to be not more than 100 m, but in reality it is around 400m! I'm gaining altitude with a very small steps. For today the maximum is 5900. I already had as artificial as well as free climbing, swimming in snow etc.

Snow conditions are difficult. The Nuptse South wallis permanently under sun rays; halfmelted snow does not give a good support for the moves: half-water -- half-snow. During the climb one is always under stress: will you slip down with the snowmass or not.

Today is a rest day, tommorrow I'm going back to the mountain. I still have some rope stocks and I make fixed ropes in the most difficult places. Large scales make senseless working on the route by going up and down. I'll go up and work there for several days. Let's hope that good weather will last for as long as possible.

That's all for the moment,
Valery, Olga
4.10.2002, 11:55

The message was transmitted with the satellite phone provided by BASK company.

Information received from

Translated by Andrei Shiryaev

1 October, 2002 Hello all!

Meru Base CAmp, 2001

Today is September 27. I've just descended after working on the route. Snowfalls continue. We are here for 8 days and only one day was free from precipitation.

Due to bad weather I still cannot pass by 5650 m (18830 feet) level. As an example, today at 6-7 AM the weather was suitable, even with sun. But while I was ascending the last fixed rope heavy clouds appeared, weather became worse and snowfall started. This was the end of the working day.

Now I'm working on the first large rock face and I really need sunny weather. Instead, I have continuous snow river, covering rocks. Nuptse South Wall is very noisy, only in the night sounds dissappear. Yesterday, on 26th it was especially well prounced: in the daytime snow from the night snowfall started to melt. Though our Base Camp is in a safe place, it is close to the wall and we have an impression of being at the frontline.

All the rest is OK, everybody is fine. We hope that weather will change soon. The hope dies the last.

That's all for the moment, bye.
Valery, Olga.
27.09.2002, 11:57

The message was transmitted with the sattelite phone supplied by BASK company.

Information received from BASK

Translated by Andrei Shiryaev

26 September, 2002 Valery Babanov from the BC:

Hello all!

Today is Sept. 24. Everything is fine, everybody is in a good shape. The only problem is weather: in the last five days I was able to make only two approaches to the route. Snowfalls continue. I've put ropes and other gear to the start point of the climb. By this moment my highest altitude is 5600 m only. Not much.

In the Base Camp we have winter conditions: snowfall, we are in our jackets. However, if sun appears snow melts fast.

The approach to the route from the Base Camp takes around one hour: first along the stony morraine, then up on the glacier. The route itself starts at 5400 m.

Our cook Pasang is very good. Dishes are delicious and without repetitions. With this "tasty" words I'm finishing for today.

Valery, Olga.

Information received from BASK

Translated by Andrei Shiryaev

24 September, 2002 Dispatch from the BC:

Hello all! Today is September 20th. Yesterday on 19th we arrived into Base Camp. It is situated at the altitude of 5200 meters (17300 feet) direcltly in front of the huge Nuptse South wall. The scale is tremendous! Today weather is nice. It is already 4 pm but sun is still shining. Previously there were snowfalls during the day time.

Today we are in a much better shape. Yesterday was a hard day: we left Tengboche (3860 m) and made 1000 vertical meters in 5 hours. Today is a rest day. I'm preparing gear for the climb.

Our cook and his assistant are making base camp. In total we are four: Me, Olga, cook Pasang and his assistant Nuri. Our liason officer priomised to arrive, but it is still not certain. In the vicinity of our BC there is no other expeditions.

The route itself is not in the best condition: Lot of snow on the rocks. I hope that while I will work on the lower part of the ridge the route conditions will became better.

I received your weather forecast (detailed forecast in the Everest region from US company SMHI is provided
especially for Valery Babanov via sattelite phone made available by BASK company and Risk-online).

At the moment that is all.
Valery, Olga, Sept. 20.

Information received from BASK

Translated by Andrei Shiryaev

16 September, 2002 Valery Babanov reports from Namche:
We are report from Namche. There is Internet here now. We are OK! The weather is unstable. Sometimes it's raining. In the valley and on the tracks are not many tourists. Maybe the season is not coming yet. In this season there are just four expeditions to Everest, several expeditions to Ama Dablam, and of course there are some trekking expeditions to Island peak.

I think, it is impossible to realise my idea about acclimatising by going up to Khumbu Icefall and South Col of Everest. In the Ministry of Tourism they said that I had to pay 4000$ for this action. So, I have to find another possibility for the acclimatisation.

Tomorrow (17.09) we are going to Tengboche. We will come to Base Camp Nuptse in Sept,19. So wait our call from the Base Camp.

Information received from BASK

14 September, 2002 First report from the Babanov's. Kathmandu.

We are OK. And our fly traveling to Delhi and Kathmandu pass well. Yesterday,we had a briffing in the Ministry of Tourism Nepal. Tomorroy (Sept.15)we will fly to Lucla.

And this evening we go to the restoran with two Ukraines piople (Terzeul and Vladimir). We mit with them in this morning. They are going to the Mt.Dhaulagiri in this automn.

Also,In this morning I met with Miss Houlli in our hotel. We were glad to meet again in Kathmandy. We spoke about my expedition and climbing tactics on the South Face of Mt.Nuptse. She sad,that things like that could doing just Babanov and T.Humar.


Information received from BASK

12 September, 2002 Valery and Olga Babanov flight to Delhi. Wish them a good luck! Expedition started.

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