Yerydag. Red and White.

In the middle of March the Ural climbers have returned from the most high-altitude
settlement of Russia - settlement Kurush. Here, opposite to settlement, the Northwest wall of Yerydag is raised ( translated from lezghin as " Red mountain ").

Yerydag 3925 - is the top of the Caucasian ridge on the border between Russia and Azerbaijan.
Southern bottom of mountain are smoothly leaving to Azerbaijan. Northern and Western slopes sharply break vertical dumps in a valley of the river Chehychaj.

The Northwest wall, well outstanding of settlement Kurush also is attractive to climbers. At the end of 70th the first
route was climbed on the 15-kilometers wall.

In 1981 some teams (Ukraine, Moscow, Sverdlovsk, Leningrad) have chosen this object for the Mountaineering Championship of the USSR.

The next years development of the massif has proceeded - A.Mihajlov's, V.Goloshchapov's groups accomplished some new first ascents of the wall (6B - the highest grade/Russian). The most difficult route has been climbed by Dagestan team to Northwest top in 2001 (via the center of a bastion of the Northwest wall). The wall was climbed also in inter-season period, a number of routes is gone in winter conditions.

Sverdlovsk area team in February 2004 has chosen a route in the left part of the Northwest wall. Having come off "the ground", they has passed Schedrin's route in 13 days and on March, 4 has summited to the main top plateau.

Schedrin's route is 900-meter difference wall, gone by free climbing (sites up to 6b-6c) and ITO climbing (up to 2). The lenth of a route of 1200 m, with an average steepness of 70 degrees.

The low rate of the team was caused by the weather conditions of winter of 2004 - snowfalls in the middle of February and a gale- force wind blowing across Dagestan at the end of February, the beginning of March.

On February, 8, the end of day. The UAZ's motor convulsively roars, overcoming abrupt rise on a frozen road. Before last rise, we overtake the shepherd with the herd, coming back in settlement. The car, manoeuvring between sheeps, drives in narrow streets of the settlement. The first houses with flat roofs of the traditional Caucasian building, randomly scattered on hills. Curious sights of local population. This settlement
Kurush sheltered on 2600 above sea level on southern slopes of mountain Shalbuzdag. On opposite from Settlement at the river Chehychaj coast the kilometer wall of " Red mountain " dominates.

The next days are devoted to preparations for the climb: refuelling gas, preparation of things, the foodstuffs, carrying cargoes. Frontier guards visit. Here, on the Main Caucasian Ridge the southern boundary of Russia lays. Their arrival is caused by curiosity, rather than service necessity.

All the January month was, according to local residents, quiet and warm. Surrounding slopes naked blackness. The wind drives sand. Only on Bazardjuzju, the highest top of East Caucasus, the white cap of snows reminds of the winter period in northern hemisphere. In February weather conditions are different. The condition of an atmosphere obviously prevents to steal up to Yerydag. Instead of three hours on rise, we spend five on descent. It is not possible to lead a horse with a cargo , the snow is too deep.

We set our tent under the wall in a hole - to be covered from a wind. The duo tries to fixe ropes on a route, the others carry cargoes. When the sufficient stock of products and fuel collects, we come off "the ground".

There are six of us, we spend the night in two portaledges. Snowfall. The compelled expectation. Time has stopped. All world around accepts a white coloring. The landscape from red-rocky turns in white snow. From tent southern slope of Shalbuzdag is seen. The thin string of road passed there, connecting Kurush with an external world. Now it is interrupted by white weight.

In second half of day when the snowfall abates, we do attempt of ascent. The first climbs in crampoons, raking the snow which has stuck on rocks, searcing of cracks. In some hours we have climbed about twenty meters on an internal corner. It becomes clear, that we won't summited till March, 1.

The next days weather became better. Rocks are cleared of a snow. The relief again gets a reddish shade. Speed of rise starts
to accrue. Some huge breaks- grottoes are passed. Birds fly off from them with shout, they are inhabitants of local places. Climbing is too difficult for winter conditions, rocks are about vertical, and there're hang over parts. Fingers on hands have cracked from constant contact with a cold stone. Legs are frozen in rock shoes.

THere's a hang over part at an output from a grotto. The first has hammered a little unsafe hooks, used as ITO, has reached a crack, and uses friends. The ladder is hung. Small a half-spot. Further, easy - the rocks with a relief for free climbing. All this in a various combination repeats every day. We dry shoes covered with hoarfrost on a flame of a gas in the evening. We feel the top. The rocks before a plateau are visible. The landscape does not match in any way representations about Caucasus. Huge rocks brick color remind " the wild West " from American western. On the distant plan hills of a valley leave on the East and are dissolved on horizon in the white fine of the clouds which have mixed up with mist of Caspian sea.

On March, 4. Last days the wind has amplified, cuts our faces by the snow groats. Some stones has flown from the top. Impulses are as in a air-tube. It seems, like you are tear off from a wall. Moving with a portaledge in the collected condition reminds attempt of flight on a paraglide. Chilly. Legs do not maintain a cold of the close rock shoes, and we have to climb in clumsy boots. We have got out by the crevice on a half-spot, traces of the previous ascentions are visible across, we see the rests of the yellowed ropel, the old hook is higher in a crack. Small wall. Bolt is on a stone. Further "road" on a ledge. THe way to a plateau lies through the simple rocks. Here we are met with a wind of deafening force.

We go on a plateau connected by a rope, trying to struggle with an air pressure. The wind is so strong, that at times all six with backpacks are thrown on the ground.

When spending the night we try to build a wall from snow bricks near the tent. This "house of cards" scatters under the next impulse. We get tent and are hardly go inside all together. It is necessary to stay night here, but it has no value now. The route is gone, we have only to descend downwards.

The climb is accomplished by the team of Sverdlovsk area:

  • Vadim Popovich
  • Alexander Korobkov
  • Daniel Primerov
  • Alexander Stolbov
  • Alexander Chernyavsky
  • Alexander Shabunin
  • the coach of the team - Alexander Mikhajlov.

Thanks for the help to people without which this action would fail. To sponsors of the team:

" ASKAN " - for climbing ropes

"Alpindustry " Yekaterinburg - for the hooks, used on a route.

" Manaraga " - for a portaledge and the tent protecting us from a wind and a bad weather.
Insurance company " Northern treasury " - for care of the team which has insured participants from accident.
To information partners of Radio " Ekofond"

To site "www.the-world-around.com" for adherence to subjects of mountaneering.
To the President of Mountaneering Federation of Dagestan Peter Leonov for responsiveness and the help.

To all inhabitants of settlement Kurush for goodwill and hospitality.

Yours faithfully Vadim Popovich, the participant of an ascention.