Free Korea, North Face, New Route. The north face of Svobodnaya Korea (Free Korea Peak, 4740m) holds ice and mixed routes of more than a kilometer in length. Under the leadership of Michail Michailov, our team of four (including Andrey Puchinin, Alexander Gubaev and Vitaliy Akimov) decided to attempt the first ascent of a difficult route on Free Korea. We attempted this new route from November 15-27, during the time of the coldest freeze. Summer is a dangerous time to climb on this face as there is much rock and ice fall. The very coldest temperature during the climb was -32°C. Each evening the condensation in the portaledge would grow to two to three centimeters and each morning when we lit our stoves we were given a most unwelcome shower. For the entire climb we were faced with very bad weather and, not by design, ended up staying on the wall for a total of 14 days. The last three days, we were very hungry because our food had run out and we only consumed hot water and sugar tablets. All of us lost between five and seven kilograms during the climb.
In the beginning of the year 2000 we felt prepared to attempt a fast climb of a new route on the north face of Peak Korona (see above). The winter climbs of our team show that on these walls there exist many new routes that still have not seen a first ascent. We believe that there is not one climbing team that can’t test their mettle to the utmost on these kilometer-long walls and perhaps even establish new routes of their own. Good luck to all future climbers!
Andrey Puchinin, Russia