Erydag Northwest (3,887m), Northwest Face, Voronin Route, First Free Ascent

Russia, Dagestan, Eastern Caucasus
Climb Year: N/A. Publication Year: 2011.

In 2010 the Russian Championships were to be held in the Karavshin, but the events in Kyrgyzstan forced them to be moved to Erydag. Michael Borich and Sergey Dashkevich attended because Borich needed another 6B to become a Master of Sport. But Dashkevich had little interest in climbing a route of this high grade by normal means. So they compromised: they would try a free ascent. After a week of poor weather they attempted a new line between the Polyakov and Samodeda routes. But around half-height they were forced down after climbing sections of poor rock, enduring a rainstorm, and witnessing a bad accident to a party on a nearby route. On July 26 they started up the Voronin Route (1,200m, A3) hoping for a free ascent. If successful, this would set a benchmark in Russian alpine rock climbing.

After two-and-a-half days, with bivouacs at the top of pitches 11 and 21, they arrived on the summit having free-climbed all 29 pitches, four at 7a. There were sections of friable sandstone, with the sting in the tail being the final ca 20m corner, which was covered in wet clay from one to five centimeters thick. It took Borich an hour to lead. The pair believe that with previous knowledge of the terrain, a fast party could free-climb the route in a day.

Erydag (main summit 3,925m) lies at the eastern end of the Caucasus chain. Its huge, alpine, northwest face boasts over 20 difficult rock routes from 5B to 6B, one of the most famous being the Mirror, a competition-winning climb on the left side of the wall put up in 1981 by Sergey Efimov and partners. The Voronin Route, put up in the winter of 2001 by a team from Dagestan led by Sergey Voronin, climbs the central buttress of the face. Blinov, Kofanov, Novoseltsev, and Yarunov from Ekateringburg made the second ascent in 2002 during the Russian Championships. The third ascent took place in the winter of 2006, and then four parties climbed the route during the summer of 2010 as part of the Championships, before Borich and Dashkevich made their first free ascent. Subsequently, three more parties climbed the route, though not free.

From information supplied by Anna Piunova,

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