C.l.S. Competitions, 1996. Russia is the only country in the world where mountaineers who make ascents in various mountains then send in their accounts to an arbitration board appointed annually by the Russian Mountaineering Federation to contend for the National Championship titles, which recognize the best climbers of the season. Mountaineers also submit their climbs to qualify for the highest sports distinctions of the country: Master of Sports and Master of Sports, International Class. [An account of climbing competitions in the C.I.S. appears earlier in this journal.]
Participation in the National Championships gives climbers an opportunity to receive some traveling expenses from their homes to the mountain regions. Such a sum can be up to $100 per person for travel to the Caucasus and up to $400 for the Pamir and Tien Shan.
Nine teams applied for participation in the winter class (January and February) ascents. The ascent of Mt. Ushba’s South Summit by A. Kustovski’s route (6B) was recognized as the best by the arbitration board. It was climbed by Alexander Pogorelov and Vitaly Polokhov from Rostov and turned out to be the second winter ascent of the route.
In general, winter climbs in 1996 were carried out only in two areas: the Kyrgyz range of the Tien Shan, and the Caucasus. In the Kyrgyzskiy Alatau Mountains (location of Ala Archa National Park), the following climbs were recorded. The third winter ascent up the north face of Pik Svobodnaya Korea (leader: Sergey Borisov, Ekaterinburg); the first ascent of Pik Semenov- Tienshanski up the right side of the west face (leader: Ivan Plotnikov, Barnaul); the second winter ascent of the Fifth Tower of Korona, up its south face (leader: Sergey Bernatski, St. Petersburg) and also the second winter ascent of the First Tower of Korona up the ice couloirs of its northwest face (leader: Andrei Drakin, Barnaul). In the Caucasus: Ushba North by the northwest face, third winter ascent (leader: Alexandr Moiseev, Rostov); central Shkhelda by the M.Khergiani route (leader: Sergey Schepachkov, Moscow); Suganbashi up the east face, first winter ascent (leader: Kazbek Khamitsaev, North Osetia).
Competitions for the best ascent in the ice/snow class were conducted for the first time in the Altai mountains. Seven pairs of climbers entered the competition. For the first part, the teams made timed ascents of the same route on the Akkem Glacier; the best time was 36 minutes and the worst one 98 minutes. The second part consisted of making three ascents from the north of the Mt. Delone-Belukha-Altai Crown massif over a period of ten days. The competitions resulted in several first ascents: Mt. Belukha West by a directissima of its north face, and the Altai Crown by the left side of its southeast face, both by Ivan Plotnikov and Vladimir Tumialis from Barnaul; Mt. Belukha East via the right side of the northwest face, and the north face of Pik Delone, both by Igor Slobodchikov and Nikolay Zyatkov of Rubtsovsk; and Pik Delone up the left side of its northwest face, by Alexey Muralev and Pavel Slepnev from Moscow. The additional new routes bring the total number of routes in the sixth grade on this massif from the Akkem Glacier to 16.
In the category of “technical difficulty on peaks below 6000 meters,” the first four places were taken by the teams that climbed by different routes on Ak-Su North (5217 m) in the Laylak valley of the Pamir Alai. The first ascent on the north face by Alexander Odintsov and Alexander Ruchkin was recognized as the best. A team from Ekaterinburg led by Alexander Klenov placed second for their route up the Direct North Face pillar. Two other climbs received high rating: the fourth ascent of I. Chaplinski’s route, by Pavel Shabalin and Ilya Tukhvatulin, and the fourth ascent of A. Moshnikov’s route by Yuri Koshelenko and Vasili Kolisnik.
Other notable ascents that merited mention: Piotr Leonov and Anatoli Goryaev from Dagestan did the first ascent of The Cold Corner on the northwest face of Mt. Erydag in the Caucasus; the ninth ascent of S. Efimov’s route up the left side of the northwest face to Mt. Erydag, by Konstantin Dorro, Vladimir Velikanov and Shanavaz Shanavazov. Valeri Boiko, Vladimir Vishniakov and Roman Saliy from the Moscow region made a pioneering ascent on the east ridge of a nice looking summit, Pik Alpinist, in the Western Kokshaal-Too range, and another first ascent via the southeast face of Mt. Trapetsia (5240 m), by a four-man team led by Boris Starostin.
In the South and North Inylchek Glaciers of the Tien Shan mountains, two weeks (August 5 to 20) of utterly bad weather led some teams to change their plans. Mountaineers from town of Rostov led by Alexander Moiseev managed to climb Khan Tengri (6995 m) by its northeast rib on August 26. Khan Tengri was also climbed by the “classical” route by Konstantine Dorro and Shanavaz Shanavazov from Dagestan. Yuri Ermachek and Dmitri Pavlenko from Ekaterinburg managed to climb the Western Summit (6918 m) of Pik Pobeda (7439 m) on August 12. During their ascent they came to the aid of a Korean climber at 6700 meters, bringing him down and saving his life.
It is worthy of note that for the first time in recent years good performances were shown by Georgian mountaineers. Zurab Kuchava, Koba Mamisashvili and Irakli Ugulava succeeded in climbing new routes on Mt. Skhara via its southeast face, while Giya Tortladze with five teammates climbed Pik “Shesti” by its south face.
A five-man team from Uzbekistan led by Oleg Grigoriev put up a new route on “Hand” Pik (2665 m) via its west face in winter conditions, while five mountaineers from Kazakhstan led by Dmitri Grekov climbed Grudzinski Pik in the southern ridge of the Tien Shan mountains by its west face couloir.
Vladimir Shataev, Russian Mountaineering Federation