“AT THE EDGE … Extreme Situations” (Vladimir Karataev)

We continue the publication of chapters from the future book of Vladimir KARATAYEV “AT THE EDGE … Extreme Situations”

1983. School on the Kashka Tash
Mountaineers, actually people are superstitious. In those early years – and it will be about the early 80’s – almost all of us in the spirit of the time were atheists and were not afraid of the evil eye, not the black cat, not the woman with empty buckets. We had our own signs and superstitions.
For example, the “happy” shirt, in which the mass of seasons departed without incident, could almost be decayed, repeatedly patched and patched up, but still took on another trip to the mountains.
Apollo and I had many years of gathering in the mountains so that if we made an advance before going to the wall, then for some reason the exit to the route was disrupted. Therefore, over time, we have superstitiously abandoned the preliminaries. On the day of release they loaded and went to the wall.
In the summer of 1983, we had big plans with our comrades. First we left for the expedition to the Pamir-Alai, Alay Range, in the Archekanysh gorge. The goal was to set up the northern wall of the Sauk-Jailau peak, never reached by anyone. We prepared seriously and carefully. The team got great.
We sit under the mountain, we beat hoofs. And the wall is completely white, snowfall after snowfall. And so, according to plan, the day on the route, but early in the morning the snow did not evaporate on the slopes, but our hopes – Apollo, as the captain of the team, decided: we leave. It was terribly insulting, but otherwise all further and no less serious plans could fly. We were expecting a call to the RSFSR team to participate in the USSR championship in the Caucasus. If we hung for a long time on the wall, then by the time of moths we can not catch the championship.
To get to the championship of the country in any class in those years was a challenge and dream of every serious climber. Quotas were allocated to the regions depending on previously shown successes. The competition was huge. And without participation in competitions of such rank you could not become a master of sports, and therefore, could not set the highest goals, participate in interesting expeditions and ascents, be at the forefront of progressive ideas and trends. For all of us, the championship was such an alpinistic “Formula-1”
And now this opportunity has fallen out – for the first time to participate in the championship of the Union, in the snow-ice class.
The first stage of the competition, the “school”, took place in the Elbrus region, in the Adylsu gorge on the Kashka-tash glacier.
At the installation fees before the championship, the main question was solved, who will still fall into the main part of our team – the RSFSR national team, which for these competitions was formed from climbers of Irkutsk and Kaliningrad. According to the rules of the competition, the team had to have a certain starting point. That is, in the composition, for example, one master of sports could compete and with him three candidates for masters or two masters and four KMS. We planned to participate in two masters of sports, but one of them – Victor Ponomarchuk – fell ill. Based on this, the team was formed from four athletes. One bundle has already been determined: the master of sports from Kaliningrad Yuri Ovsyannikov and his team mate, CCM Victor Zhuravlev. Coaching Council was to determine yet another bundle of all the candidates invited to the team.
The participants of the competitions lived in the Elbrus alpine. And every morning we went to the glacier Kashka-tash for training, which, in fact, turned into qualifying starts. In the end, the choice of coaches fell on me and Slava Lebedev, and we became the second bunch of the national team of the RSFSR.
Slava and I ran along vertical ice walls, easily overcoming any relief of the glacier, and in this respect we were confident. But there was one small problem due to the then accepted rules for climbing. Participants of one team had to have a so-called similarity – that is, the experience of joint ascents. At least one vertex, at least with one member of the team. Ovsyannikov and Zhuravlev had such a cramp, but we do not have Slava. And then we went to get it on Nakru – on the Italian couloir 4B c.

(The top of the Nakra, 4277 m, the neighbor of Donguz-von, representing with him one of the classic mountain species in the Elbrus region.The Italian couloir is gaining about 1000 m in length and 60 degrees in steepness. About ten years ago it was a deuce from Pyatigorsk, spending about 17 hours On the rise + overnight on the route – Ed.)
The snow-ice couloir from the foot to the pre-summit ridge passed very quickly. Connected ten-meter rope went simultaneously, occasionally hanging on ice axes and fifah, sat in arbors and chattered with their feet, in order to rest calf muscles. Almost without problems for a few hours jumped on the pre-summit ridge, and, having risen to the top, they expected to return to the base by the evening, but the mountains said: “It’s hilarious you, boys.” Everything around was covered with such a thick fog, and the snow had fallen, and five meters away, nothing was visible.
After they descended from the summit in the direction of Svaneti, almost intuitively, blindly crossed the glacier in the upper part. Further, having crossed the rocky ridge, we came to a snowy plateau in the vicinity of which we were to find the pass False Donguz-orhn. But there was no visibility. A perfectly flat glacier, covered with fluffy snow, dissolved in dense fog in a few steps. We were as if suspended in a cloud, from which snow flakes. But the approximate of our location and the possible direction of movement still determined. A glacier with a stream flowing from it was indicated on the map. By hearing, it was determined that somewhere below the left a river rustles, and this means that in the opposite direction there is a pass, and on temporary landmarks, somewhere near.
Deciding not to test fate and got up for the night, especially since in one place they almost fell into a cracks, passing along the unsteady snow bridge. Dug in the snow pit trench with a half meter deep, lay down in it, throwing a mat and rucksacks, and waited for dawn. Opening my eyes at night and looking around, I saw above me a perfectly clean, starry sky and, almost in two steps, the blackening rocks of the crest, through which the path of our return lay. At dawn, without wasting time, we can say, running, and in order to warm up, we crossed the pass, went down to Cheget, and in a few hours were on the base.

Our team was completely ready for the start, all the participants are emotionally and psychologically inclined to struggle. And then something happened that happens when at the airport in front of the registration desk you realize that you forgot your passport at home …
The day before the credentials committee they tell me they can not find my insurance policy. All the sports documents I handed over to the coaching board, as soon as I arrived at Elbrus. And now the insurance policy has disappeared somewhere. Without it, the credentials committee does not allow for competition. I’m leaving the team, not even about my own fault … It’s Sunday in the yard. What to do? Where to run, where to look for an insurance agent? Nobody could explain anything plainly.
He took his passport, money and ran down to the Baksan Gorge. I decided to catch a ride and go to Tyrnyauz.
No mood. I’m leaving the team because of some nonsense. Not because of injury, not because of his blunder … The selection passed, with a similarity decided, and on you … It’s a shame.
This is now the insurance agents are sitting under each stone at the beginning of the route. And then – you will not believe – even the Internet was not. And mobile phones were only for millionaires. In America.
And all day I wandered around the city in search of an insurance agent. The problem was still that on Sunday the institutions do not work. But I was lucky: they prompted the agent’s home address, and he was at home. In the evening I returned to the base with an insurance policy, and the question of my participation in the competitions was resolved.
I do not know if it’s bad or good, but by lot our team fell out first, as they say, from scratch. All the others could already be guided by our time, which made it easier for them to plan the tactics of working the ligaments to improve the time of the route.
As a result, after a few days of competitions and passions, at the end of the “school” our team had a good time, and even with the faults of judges and penalty points, we could count on a prize. That “school” was remembered still by the presence of Reinhold Messner, who actively photographed everything he saw around …

1983. According to the icebreakers of Mizhirga.
(Previous hour https://vk.com/wall-32362856_11827)
At the end of the “school” in the Adyl-su gorge to the second stage of the championship, the participants moved to the Bezengi district with a friendly caravan. Now the teams had to show themselves on the ice verticals of the five-thousand-footed Gentian on the routes that the judges had chosen for the final determination of the strongest ice-climbers of the year.
After the draw, three teams went out together under the northern wall of the Peak of Mizhirga. Judges went there to give a signal to the teams to start and observe their work on the wall with their own eyes.
Team MAL “Caucasus” under the leadership of V.V. Markelova said the line in the left part of the northern wall of East Mizhirga