WOHLTHAT MASSIF

Posted on: June 1, 2003


The south face of Peak Valery Chkalov (2510m) with the route (Russian 6A, 800m) climbed by the team from Krasnoyarsk, Russia indicated. [Photo] Russian Antarctica Expedition

The thirteen members of our expedition arrived in Novolazarevskaya from Cape Town on January 25 via cargo aircraft. A day later, we packed our gear into two experimental all-terrain vehicles and set off for base camp (1641m) in the Wohlthat Massif, where the advance team had been awaiting our arrival. Despite countless crevasses, the terrain posed no problems for our vehicles. On our way to base camp we could see many magnificent mountains, with real walls and many potential routes.

The south face of Peak 2510 (noted in some sources as Peak Schvartze) was to be our big wall. On January 28 we divided into two groups. The team from Krasnoyarsk (Russia, Siberia) started ascending the beautiful granite of the 800-meter south face. They worked in teams of two; Oleg Khvostenko and Gleb Sokolov would fix pitches on the route then abseil back to camp for a day off, while the pair of Peter Kuznetsov and Pavel Zaharov would take over the task of fixing. The climb followed a fractured rib up the middle of the face; it took five days, fixing fourteen aid pitches with some free climbing, before a good ledge wide enough to set up a tent was attained.

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On February 1 the team gathered on the ledge for the next push. They had hauled food and water to this point; they would later manage to find some snow on the buttress. They found excellent crack climbing—free at times—on sound granite up to Russian Grade 6A and used nuts and cams for protection (bolts were used only for some anchors). Having fixed the final, slightly overhanging pitches, the team started out for the summit push. On February 5, after twenty-one ropestretching pitches, they pulled onto the summit at 2 a.m., completing the first ascent (6A, 800m). The descent took the team a full day. Perfect weather was the key to their success. Some days were deliciously crisp, with temperatures between -10 degrees C and -30 degrees C. On top of this, it was a magnificent climb. The team found that the face offered a lot of free-climbing potential. The climbers named the mountain Peak Valery Chkalov, after the legendary Russian pilot who performed the first non-stop flight from Moscow to Vancouver over the North Pole in 1937.

— Valery Pershin and Evgeny Vinogradsky, Ekaterinburg, Russia (translated by Anna Piunova)



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