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Svanetia, Caucasus from the South

Svaneti, the Caucasus from the south or my Ushba

(author V. Yanochkin)


Russian-Georgian climbing Ushba in 2002, dedicated to the anniversary of Michael Hergiani was developed by the climbing and mountaineering in the program AlexClimb Sport With No Bounds with the support of Russian Federation of Mountaineering and Mountaineering Federation of Georgia. Sponsor of the expedition was the company "Alpine-trade", to provide equipment and equipment from manufacturers such as: TREZETA, LOWE ALPINE, CAMP, EDELWEISS, PETZL, CHARLET MOSER.

Caucasus, climbing Ushba from Svaneti

I, without hesitation, supported the idea of Alexei Trubacheva to conduct the expedition under the "Sports Without Borders" for the purpose of the joint Russian-Georgian climbing Ushba. This action is long overdue and has become necessary, and there is nothing to discuss here.

The first time I heard about Ushbe back in 1971, when we, a group of newly baked znachkistov went through the pass to the sea Donguzorun in Sukhumi to warm the bones. Then it was commonplace. With no equipment, who in sneakers, who in civil shoes, one, I remember, was even wearing a tie and with a suitcase, we glided on the snowfields of the pass with the bones of cattle in the hands instead of ice axes, pick up here on the mountain pass. Then he knocked his teeth in the rain forest, grabbing cold night, with no coats, no lights. But when the going down of Svaneti, we called climbers, we were treated to wine and vying araka Swans. And when they found out that we were not on top of Ushba and were not familiar with Misha Hergiani, they shook their heads doubtfully, we decided that necessarily go up Ushba.

Years passed, other are not, and those far away, but did not seem to Ushba gets closer.

In 1974, produces struck me from the group, leaving Ushba, saying Ushba should not be the first Quartet - too hard. In 1994, I was already world-class athlete, behind complex wall first ascents of Everest and finally came close to the realization of the dream to climb Ushba.

Caucasus, climbing Ushba from Svaneti Then we were taken in a professional art-documentary "Ushba" (who have not seen, I advise you to look) and in the process of shooting, passing the mirror Ushba (route Manaenkova) have already reached the ridge and climbed on it almost to the top . But I had to shoot the film, went doubles, one after another, then my companions, have all had before climbing Ushba, hurried down - helicopter wing beats. Vasya Elagin said, "Yeah, okay, Yanochkin, next time converge on the top of a mountain is not going anywhere." Well, really, where to go, and I went down with the others. But the time to drink champagne and dive into the helicopter, crouched directly on Ushba plateau.

And then, finally, in the next, 1995, I, along with three young Austrians do not know what they do and do not feel the danger of climbing in conditions of poor visibility, snow and avalanche danger, perched on top of the North Ushba.

Now I "ushbist" and can safely go to Svaneti and call themselves there climber.

Svaneti remained the same for me, "terra incognita", because I was not in place and not visited the grave of Michael Hergini, but heard plenty of stories "visited" on the Place towers and the maser and the wonderful hospitality of the people of Gdańsk. Yes, read the excellent book by Alexander Kuznetsov "at the bottom of Svaneti" (ed. "Young Guard", 1971).

Yes, but how to go, because in the Main Caucasus Range (GKH) the border, introduced visa requirements, all passes are blocked by border guards. Yes, talk about some kind of "Swanee," armed "Kalashnikov", and robbed of all tourists and climbers to cowards, despite the sports titles and achievements. Is restructuring and need so ozverila welcoming Orthodox people that he went all in a big way? Something not believe it. Perhaps this is some kind of scumbags like Chechen bandits. But still, it is terrible.

Caucasus, climbing Ushba from Svaneti That's why I was so pleased to learn of the support of our ideas Mountaineering and Climbing Association of Georgia in the face of Beno Kashakashvili. Alex took up the organization of the expedition and the search for sponsors.

Bureaucratic problem of the intersection of the legal GKH he could not definitively resolve, despite a fair walk to authorities with petitions. The fact is that at this point (the top of Ushba) no official border crossing point where we could have put a stamp in the passport, and organize it there for us the leadership of frontier troops, of course, did not want to. Well, instead traverse Ushba in turn went to fallback to the training climbing Kazbek (we were there, too, has not yet been!) And joint ascent to the summit of South Ushba. This option we are quite satisfied with the situation, but the situation is clearly not pulling on the traverse Ushba Russian team, as assembled from five climbers, two (I will not name them, not to create them unnecessary advertising) refused the day before the departure of the train for unknown reasons. Sergei Zabrodin on their qualifications and experience are not yet ready to Ushbe neither formally nor actually. We hoped for a little more possible arrival Basil Elagina, but he could not leave work.

So, after acclimatization ascent to the summit of Mount Kazbek, together with Georgian comrades (this ascent is the subject of a separate story) we went to Tbilisi, where we were met and made Givi Kartvelishvili, vice president of the Georgian Association.

Caucasus, climbing Ushba from Svaneti road in Svaneti was long and tedious, worn wheels Mercedes minibuses type, which now travel to Georgia, and then burst on the ragged roads in need of urgent repair. People angrily criticized their government and president and longingly and fondly remember the good old Soviet times. Despite the efforts of a handful of ruling scoundrels sow discord between the Russian and Georgian people here love Russian and are always friendly and attentive. And in Svaneti Russian and Georgian mountaineers met just as the gods. We have seen that there is in Svaneti and strengthened a cult Michael Hergiani. This includes not just as a national hero, but as a man-demigod. The museum lovingly preserved relics associated with the life, sports activities and Michael Hergiani death, his grave next to the church of St. George are going to old to remember the old days and drink a few cups of Araki and young people to hang out. And when they met with us many times remembered and celebrated that it was with Russian climbers worked side by side and make the ascent Misha Hergiani and other nice Svan climbers. After the glorious ascent Svan climbers Ushba and other peaks climbing becomes truly national sport, and climbers - the most respected people. Good climber in the representation of the Swan - a real man. Therefore climbing friendship along with a single Orthodox religion - a very strong factor binding Russian, Georgian and Svan people, strengthening our friendship in spite of political intrigue.

In the upcoming ascent we all had to prove it.

In the base camp on Gulskih areas account for a large group with us even two girls - climber from Tbilisi, Sophie and Lika-climber and journalist Tamara. Later there are suitable and others - the whole alpiniada. But not all will Ushba. Our group includes until 8 people, three of them - Swans, Afi Gigani, Idris Hergiani and Nugzar Niguriani three Georgian: Lev Sarkisov, David Chapladze and Gela Otaroshvili, two Russian - we are with Alex. Then we caught up with two more Svan: Koba Gurchiani and Tengiz Vezdeni. In the beginning were the so-called "Svan" insurance: rope in a backpack, all go one by one in sight. The principle is "Can you see me?" - "I see!" - "Well, go on." Then the old man cried: heavy backpacks and troechnye rock unreliable. Launched a rope.

Caucasus, climbing Ushba from Svaneti Svans went ahead and quickly made their way. The route they know well - a lot of times it took so clearly oriented in the fog. And the weather does not spoil us - rain, fog. I, as I could, to explain to them that one of the old hook on the rope railing will be small. And railing better to block each other. And then, as if in illustration, Alex pulls parapet hook, and we all just do not fly away. Fortunately, he stayed on the slope uncool. The next time he sees himself already a block of stone, which crashed rushes to me by a hail of stones. Time to notice that two of them are very decent, ample. Somehow miraculously dodge. Alex proudly displays bloodied hand and killed, hanging on the few surviving strands of power, a new self-insurance (standing in the firm "Alpine-trade" twenty bucks). Fortunately, the "Alpine-trade" - our sponsor, and provided us with equipment and gear from manufacturers such as: TREZETA, LOWE ALPINE, CAMP, EDELWEISS, PETZL, CHARLET MOSER part for free, and often with high discounts, so lanyard that saved Alexei life - sponsorship.

Alex Young, unusual even for such routes, walks too fast, and that's dumped on himself and on the other all that horrible. The third time he dumped the fixed ropes stone itself exactly on the head. I, unfortunately, too late noticed that after the passage of the next party, lay down a rope through a "living" stone, only managed to shout: "Stone," but Alex could not see the complex trajectory of the stone and get to the head. Fortunately, corporate sponsorship helmet PETZL honorably withstood the blow a little break, and Alex escaped with slight concussion Baska, which, incidentally, he was not in the least hurt. As one of the cartoon hero (think rabbit): to get a concussion, you must at least have it.

How many of these mistakes we have made and continue to make in my climbing life, and God to us for the time being forgiving. Any of these errors can be fatal. The fate of randomly punishes someone, maybe the most innocent.

By spending the night under the wall came late in the evening, falling in the snow on the perineum, to say the least. Everyone was soaked to the skin, but sleeping in a wet sleeping bag good. The next day the weather gave us a few hours to handle the steepest part of the route - the walls, and to dry belongings.

Caucasus, climbing Ushba from Svaneti assault But the day was a success - only snow and fog - bleak. Normal people in this kind of weather do not go. But the wait was useless, the next day was going to be even worse - the new moon.

Our neskhozhennost and language barriers played a pernicious role here. We are constantly making mistakes when working with rope handrails and organizations. As a result, the crest came out with only two ropes, and we had 8 people - a locomotive.

Moving too slowly to the top came only 19 hours. Here I bravely prodolbil two the bolt holes with a diameter of 10 mm and a depth of 6 cm and cemented a plaque. And Lev Sarkisov is courageously shot on courageously brought them a huge Sony camcorder. These courageous staff and my name immortalized in political news program on NTV (slightly, however, distorted the name).

The descent was largely in the dark, to the tents down at 2am. Bailed out new LED flashlight type PETZL, purchased at a discounted price in the same Alpine-TRADE. From wet and wind jackets have saved sponsored LOWE ALPINE.

The next day the weather has finally deteriorated. We could not get out. It was necessary to remove the top left on the eve of the rope. Organization rappels we took a lot of time, still 10 people down. As a result, we are again almost stayed the night, but on the glacier we were greeted participants Svan alpiniad hot tea, and Naso Hergiani (sister of Michael Hergiani) with flowers. Descended on Gulskie lodging at night. The next day everyone who was in the camp for overnight stays Gulskih went down with us: no climbs but ours was not - the weather was unmarketable. Meet on the trail of two Georgian climbers, carrying the foot Ushba plaque died on Ushbe Georgian mountaineers and, among other things, a canister of Kakheti. In a conversation over a glass of wine turns out that one of the met - Shalva Lezhava, participated in the famous traverse Ushba team Transcaucasian Military District in 1973. On the climb I was then told the well-known Moscow climber Anatoly Borowski, who served on this ascent the Soviet Army. I am pleased to convey his warm greetings from Shalva!

Caucasus, climbing Ushba from Svaneti Residents Gyuli and masers greeted us and were treated to the best that is in their humble homes. Thank God that Svan arrack is not very strong.

In places visited Lovingly maintained museum Hergiani Misha, met with residents at their place, representatives of the administration, the government, the public, family relatives Hergiani, speaking and listening toast. Misha name is repeated in each toast.

In the evening there was a concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Michael Hergiani and our ascent on Ushba. There were speeches and Mestia Choir Song and Dance Ensemble and soloists, and, of course, speech, speech in Georgian and Russian. Russian language is taught in schools Svan. We were called to the scene, presented and awarded medals of Michael Hergiani.

After a night banquet with lots of toast and copious libations Kakheti good sleep in the hay!

Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.