Alexander Ruchkin. Almost
Wall - Russian Way". Panasonic - Jannu North Face
mountain took so much forces that no one before.
The wall of altitude difference about three
kilometers did not allow us to take a pause for breath. It has increasing
complexity at the altitude higher than 7000m that makes further
ascent of steep sites and cornices doubtful.
Having made 50 pitches up to 7000 - the third
high-altitude camp - apparently, you understand that you have no
forces for further working on the wall any more. But it exactly
is just the aim that led us here. The wall is so abrupt that you
can see the whole of it, from the beginning 7000m and up to the
The mountain did not want to surrender. We
wrung our positions working by three groups that replaced each other.
It was possible to climb only 5 meters a day attacked by a gale-force
wind. But what the meters it was!
If to lift El-Capitan at 7000m we will get
the same result as usual hanging fixed ropes on North Jannu face.
Every day brought us more doubts, that we would not summit the mountain
than we would do that.
Some of us began to lost their nerve: if we
climb only five meters a day on such difficult wall we will not
climb it at all; we just can not imagine how many days we do need
to climb up all of these 700 meters of the wall.
Something touched me inside, began to stick
out of me and expressed in three and a half pitches that I made
the next working day. I have never met and even heard about such
wall's surface. There are a lot of cornices with a minimum quantity
of cracks there above 7000m that we had to overcome.
We had to pass from one finishing crack to
another, hammering a chock in a quartz hole on a completely hanging
We used sky - hooks almost in the heavens,
at 7400. That's not the way to do it! It seemed the rock simply
mocked at me. I had to resolve difficult labyrinths of cracks and
the ways to get from one crack to others.
We had to fight every meter of the wall and
it did not give up without striking a blow. And we became felt our
losses if we were in the war. The fighters went off from a charger
like shot patrons: wounded head, broken rib… The eyes refused to
look at such working loads and such horror.
People went like on the war to the knife:
everywhere danger lies in wait for them.
Sooner it became warmer up to such degree,
that in the bottom part of the route above 5700m, the ice screws
were thawed, but the fixed ropes, on the contrary, were frozen 5cm
up into the ice.
Ascending the first part of fixed ropes I
pulled out pitch's bolts and got my heart stopped beating when I
was falling 3-5 meters in a precipice, but due to frozen into the
ice rope I managed to stop in the air. The next pitch pulled out
again, and everything repeated. And I fell seven times in this way.
I had luck to remain alive.
Someone looked from above at our games with
the terrible wall and with our lives. Climbing the wall our group
found thawed ropes left by some previous expeditions throughout
on the right and on the left and we had no a guarantee that and
our expedition would not left the mountain not to get up to the
summit. This northern face already became mythical. In spite of
the fact that we managed to climb superior the previous teams, it
seemed there was no end to the wall.
Having carried food and gear for seven days
we, at last, after four-day ascending the way over 60 pitches long
from 4600 up to 7400m, reached the portaledge fixed at 7400m. Mike
Mikhailov and I had to work on the wall for some days, and Dmitry
Pavlenko, after carrying a gear had to change me.
Out of spite the weather began to spoil already
at 6700 and upper and when we went to work it deteriorated finally.
In such weather we sat at home or in the portaledge
at 7400m, but coming monsoon and resentment that only a pair of
pitches would remain to climb up to the summit, did not leave me
alone. And the idea that we have to recede, go away with nothing
for our pains and come up to expectations those people who do not
believe in us, after we spent so much forces, forced us to climb
even through a snowfall.
Avalanches were sliding via a chimney that
out route went through. Only 30 meters I could climb that day clearing
cracks from snow, warming frozen fingers, selecting snow-covered
equipment and deciding how to climb further.
For three days Mike and I worked through a
snowfall. Mike's down overalls became wet, chilled, and next day
it became clear, that if he did not descend at the double and reduce
altitude, he would have threatened all of us. He began descent.
The same day Dmitry ascended from the camp
at 7000m for changing: these days he could not make the way to us
hauling gear. We decided to work how much as we could. We reached
an inclined chimney, where we could to move faster. Having climbed
25-30 meters more on vertical rocks destroyed in places in a constant
snowfall and fell together with rock's pieces several times we finished
up under cover of a darkness and descended.
Next day Dmitry was the leader. The wall became
less abrupt, but not easier. To tell the truth, weather decided
to indulge us a little and gave two days without snowfalls that
sped up our ascent.
Pavlenko mainly free climbed – a gradient
of the chimney allowed to do that- preliminary clearing the surface
from snow, trying to discover small ledges and edges. Very destroyed
in places walls transformed our way up to painful slow movement.
For two days almost four pitches made us closer to the summit. Staying
in the base camp and seeing in a telescope our friends promised
us only three pitches left up to the top. They already said that
a lot of times, and all the time they were mistaken.
We planned the summit push on 25.05 and got
up at 3.00 a.m. We could not sleep. Snow rustled with small avalanches
on a portaledge's tarp.
We hoped that it would have stopped snowing
up to our departure.
We felt killed weariness collected for six
days of work at the altitude higher 7400m. Every day it seemed to
me that soon the organism would give failure on the most crucial
The snow did not stop, but even amplified.
And we decided to have a day-rest. On communication we asked to
stop the people ready to follow us from camp to camp for summit
push. We did not know how many pitches left, probably three. And
the main thing we did not know if the relief was complex and if
we had enough forces and time to reach the top.
26.05 having replaced Dmitry I was the leader.
Exhausted by the altitude and vertical ropes, we made two pitches
more and were not sure, that the summit was close to us. Power of
the Wall oppressed us. Finally we rested against a snow-firn ridge.
I climbed it with my last strength, failing in snow up to the waist
or getting out on firn, sliding off in blunt crampons.
Having got out on a sharp crest and shifted
to the south I screamed!!!!.....
It has come to pass! And It has ended!
I bolted, hammered ice tools, fixed the rope.
Dmitry reached me, we embraced, hugged ourselves
still not believing, that we summited a sparkling, peaked pyramid
top of Jannu from the north face.
Having descended to the portaledge, I had
no forces at all and I felt exhausted one hundred per sent.
Undermining from inside illness felt my weak
spot. I had to descend running at night. A day later Nick Totmyanin,
Sergey Borisov and Gena Kirievsky summited Jannu too.
Unfortunately Alexey Bolotov did not manage
to reach the top with his broken rib. He even tried to do that but
at 7400m he got his crampon broken and had to descend.
In my opinion to climb Jannu North Face means
to cross the blade.