[From October 16-22, 2016, Anna Piunova shared some stories and photos with the #AlpinistCommunityProject about some of her travels while working as the editor for Mountain.RU. Piunova recently helped coordinate a dramatic helicopter rescue for Alexander Gukov, who was stranded for a week at 6200 meters on the North Ridge of Latok I in Pakistan after his partner Sergey Glazunov fell to his death while rappelling. Anna lives in Moscow, Russia, and has edited Mountain.RU, the premier climbing website for Russian-language speakers, since 1999.–Ed.]
When Mountain.RU first launched, it was nothing more than a few people with an idea to build an online space where everybody could share mountaineering experiences and passion with others. But it has since grown to become a massive portal…for staying up to date with what’s happening in the mountaineering world.
Stolby National Park is a home playground for Krasnoyarsk’s climbers in Siberia, Russia. The traditional style is free solo and there are no official grades for difficulty. It doesn’t matter if you are climber or just weekend visitor; locals get used to climbing Stolby without any gear or climbing shoes. Instead they often climb in regular street shoes and clothes. In this photo, Alexey Kichkaylo, aka “Kich,” free solos the famous route Aviator on the Plumage formation. Jack Ovchinnikov is at the base. A typical Stolbist’s belaying technique is, “Come on, dude, I see you.” There is a memorial plate in the beginning of the route where Vladimir Teplyh, one of the gifted and beloved members of the community, fell to his death several years ago.
[A video about some American climbers visiting Stolby and observing its unusual traditions can be found here.–Ed.]
Anna Tsyganova free solos First Pillar at the Stolby Natural Reserve in Siberia near Krasnoyark, her native city in Russia. The 23-year-old won the 2016 women’s speed-climbing title at the IFSC World Championships in Paris on September 16, 2016.
Shaan Kaya in Crimea is another playground for several generations of Soviet and post-Soviet climbers. The route name, Hyperborea (Russian grade 6a, or French grade 7a, A3+, 300m), refers to a place in Greek mythology where people lived beyond the North Wind. The famous Ukrainian climber Igor Chaplinskiy and his partner Alex Samoded started working on this line in the 1980s. The first ascent wasn’t completed until 2001. This photo was taken in late 2000.
Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll explores cliffs at Llyn Peninsula, Snowdonia, North Wales, UK, in 2008. It was classic British purism–no bolts. Jack Geldard pays full attention to the belay.
Nico Favresse experienced classic British trad routes at Llyn Peninsula, Snowdonia, North Wales, testing small gear placements and Nick Bullock’s belay skills. Beautiful cliffs. Fantastic Welsh weather. Always raining.
Favresse attempts to onsight Strawberries (E7, 6b) on the Vector Buttress, Tremadog, North Wales, UK. Strawberries is one of the most famous routes in Britain. It has a historic reputation of difficult climbing with hard-to-place gear. It was first onsighted by German talent Stefan Glowacz in 1987, and only three others have managed to repeat the accomplishment: Jorg Verhoeven in 2011, Hansjorg Auer in 2012, and Steve McClure in 2014 (first British onsight).
My first trip to Indian Creek, Utah, was also my first trip to the USA. A chain of unlucky events–I lost baggage with my contacts, missed a shuttle and had to spend the night in Denver International Airport–led to the luckiest one, when George Lowe took me onboard his jet. The landscape looked like Mars. But this was Indian Creek. After three days of crack climbing, I got used to the pain that accompanied my every awakening. Everything hurt but I still had no idea how the jam techniques worked. Every morning I picked hard, huge scabs off from the fabric of my sleeping bag and promised myself never, never again! I came to climb not to suffer. The following year I returned to Indian Creek with my husband for a month and a half. In this photo, Kitty Calhoun (right) fights her way up Slot Machine (5.11+) while another climber topropes Pente (5.11-) at the Reservoir Wall.