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North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, Russian Climbing Championships

Yosemite Valley, Russian Climbing Championships. The 2000 Russian Rock Climbing Championships took place in Yosemite Valley from August 15-September 10. All participants had that time period in which to climb as many routes as they could. Two teams from Moscow (Timur Akhmedkhanov and Alexander Lastochkin; Igor Pehterev and Maxim Pankov), one from St. Petersburg (Tengiz Verulashvili and Vladimir Kachkov), two from Magnitogorsk (Victor Igolkin and Yuri Oleinikov; Rinat Zaitov and Sergey Soldatov), and one mixed rope team (Lex Kratohvilla [Austria] and Arkady Seriogin [Russia]) participated. Unfortunately, some of the strongest Russian climbers could not attend, because the U.S. Embassy did not give them entry visas. The jury was led by Gury Chunovkin and composed of four people. The general manger and organizer of the Championship was Anatoly Moshnikov.

The biggest problem was to make an absolute rating qualification of all the proposed climbing routes. This was done after a lot of discussion and with the help Chris McNamara’s book Yosemite Big Walls. The Final Rating (FR) of each climb was calculated using the formula FR= (2.2 + jury rating from 0 to 0.2) x (fixed rating on the basis of Yosemite Big Walls route grades + two people climbing/15) - time of climbing (in days, measured in half days). The final assessment would be made by calculating two routes (which all the teams were expected to be able to complete).

The joint Russian-Austrian team began first, followed by the three Russian rope teams. The team of Pehterev-Pankov made a start on the Dihedral Wall at midnight and returned the next evening because of unexpected route difficulty and lack of equipment. They made preparations for three days and finally started climbing the Salathé Wall route. The Magnitogorsk rope team of Igolkin-Oleynikov started Wyoming Sheep Ranch three days after the official starting day. They made a strategical mistake and climbed the last two days with almost no water.

After a few days, all the rope teams finished their first routes and returned to Camp 4. After the first round, almost all the teams had the same rating and had a chance to win the Championship. The second round was started by the St. Petersburg team, who began up Flight of the Albatross. Igolkin-Oleynikov started the same route right behind them, followed by Zaitov-Soldatov. The St. Petersburg team took four days on the route; Igolkin-Oleynikov took three and a half days, and Zaitov-Soldatov needed three days. The international team, meanwhile, started on the Atlantic Ocean Wall; the Moscow team followed them. Unfortunately, both these rope teams took four days to climb the route.

On October 4, all rope teams reunited in Camp 4. After the second round, the winner was the Zaitov-Soldatov rope team. Second place was shared by about five rope teams; the final ordering depended on the judges. The St. Petersburg team did not finish the route (Verulashvili broke his leg).

The rope team of Igolkin-Oleynikov declared that they would climb one more route, the Atlantic Ocean Wall, and asked the judges to prolong the Championship for one more day. All the judges refused to do so. Igolkin-Oleynikov began to climb the route anyway, in order to win. The Championship deadline was 4 p.m., October 8. They managed to climb their route and returned at 9 a.m. on October 8. If their two best routes were declared eligible, they would be the winners.

A discussion in Moscow by all the judges and some of the teams (basically one from Moscow, who did not want Igolkin and Oleynikov’s third route calculated) ensued. In the event their third route was not considered, they would come in second to last. After a long, long discussion in the Russian Mountaineering Federation, and a long discussion in the mountaineering public, the rope team of Igolkin-Oleynikov was declared the winner. (Competitions in United States national parks are illegal.—Ed.)

Anatoly Moshnikov, Russia