On May 14, 2018, at 09:12 local time, I stood on the top of the world. My friends Dmitry Semerenko and Roman Gorodechny, our Sherpas, and a dozen other climbers were there. We did it! We climbed Everest!
It all started in not so distant 2013. Or maybe even earlier, when I went for the first time with my parents on a hike in the Carpathian Mountains. I was nine years old at the time.
I climbed Everest at 29 without two weeks. Almost 20 years passed from my first summit, Veliky Verkh (1598m) to Everest (8848m). But back then, eating blueberries and catching trout, I hadn’t even thought about Everest. Perhaps I didn’t even know it existed. I just ran down the mountain and breathed in the fragrance of the clean air with my full chest. That’s how my love for the mountains was instilled.
I remember how in 2013, at the tourism evening in Bila Tserkva, I whispered to my friends and acquaintances that I wanted to go to Elbrus. At the time it was something beyond belief and unreal for me. I was afraid that the more experienced tourists would laugh at me, saying why should I go to Elbrus. Therefore, told in a whisper and only some people.
In August 2013 I was on the summit of Mount Elbrus with two friends. We had gone up by the classical route from the south side. The weather was good, but it was hard and cold. We had walked the whole way up, starting from Azau glade, and we were annoyed by the roar of the retracks at 4100 and above. At that moment I seriously began to think whether I needed these mountains. I thought seriously, but not for long.
I got to Nepal for the first time in the spring of 2014 and then to Iceland and Norway in the summer. For two years I drove myself through these regions. There was no time for any of my own plans. But the Couloir was developing, we had great guides coming in that I could totally rely on.
Somewhere in this period I had an idea about 8000m. No, not about Everest, but about the easiest eight – Cho Oyu (8,201m). I even created a group on Facebook, where I added a few friends who could theoretically accompany me.
You can’t just climb 8,000m, you need to prepare. I had chosen a few peaks for myself so that I could gain the height gradually. I planned to climb 8 in the fall of 2017.
Climbing Kilimanjaro was first on my list because it’s the closest summit to Elbrus. I had also never been to Africa and wanted to visit. We went to Kili without much trouble, I really liked the program with safari and Zanzibar, so I was still coming back here in December 2017.
Next on the plan is the first 6,000m peak. There are not many options, we have to choose something from the Himalayan. Or Mera Peak or Island. But why choose when you can do both at once? So I joined Denis Alimov’s group for Mera Peak + Island Peak. First we climbed Mera Peak (6461m) and I felt great. I was at the summit just as the sun was rising.
Then we passed the Amphulapcha Pass (5870m), which was a more serious test. Adrenaline was bubbling, it was very beautiful!
At Island Peak (6,189m) we just ran up, the acclimatization was great! It was here that I met the first staircase over the crack, I had only seen such stairs in the movie Everest before.
I liked the program very much, a lot of overnight stays in tents, difficult and beautiful! Now we do this kind of program every autumn.
We continue to gain altitude. The next stage is almost seven thousand, the highest point in South America, Aconcagua. With the group, we went trekking in Patagonia, and afterwards we decided to seize the moment and go up the mountain together with Roma. We both spend 200 days a year or more in the mountains, so we decided we could score a proper acclimatization and get to the top much faster.
While spending the night at Camp Canada at 5050m (what sunsets there!) Roma got the mountain sickness. With the first rays of sunshine we started our descent to the base camp, leaving all our gear on the mountain. At Plaza de Mulas (4300 m) Roma felt better, but still it was very difficult. Then we decided to split up – the next morning he would go down and I would go up the mountain.
That day I climbed Nido de Condores (5550m) and the next day I went on the climb. The weather was perfect, it wasn’t easy, but I gradually overtook everyone who had started from 6,000m and was the first to the top. I spent about 40 minutes there on my own, enjoying the scenery and the warmth. During that time the first climbers appeared on the horizon and I began my descent. It was necessary to carry all the equipment down the mountain for two people, it was not easy. But by evening I was already drinking beer at the base camp.
Recommended: A diary of the ascent of Aconcagua
I’ll tell you right away that we didn’t reach Lenin Peak. We turned just above the “Knife” at 6800-6900m because of the strong wind and frost. That was the first time I saw blisters on my fingers. This time I failed to reach an agreement with the Mountain, but I was not upset about it. I could always go back, if I wanted to.
The ascent of Lenin is really hard climbing, after which you can try 8000m.
So, imperceptibly, in a year of time, I approached my first 8,000m. By that moment Andrey Vergeles and Maria Koval had returned from their expedition to Manaslu and I watched all the episodes from their expedition on Andrey’s channel, very interesting and informative!
Cho Oyu turned out to be very expensive and I decided to try Manaslu. I had to find a partner or go with a Sherpa. It was about the same whether to take a partner or a Sherpa. Without thinking too much, I offered Sasha Pavlov to join my ascent. We felt comfortable together, and a guide with an experience of 8000m wouldn’t hurt Couloir.
We had no time for detailed planning and making menus, so we just bought 100 packs of Idle, 80% of which we did not eat. In general, I had a big problem with appetite on the mountain, I ate very little.
We joined the expedition on a “bum package,” which includes nothing but getting you into a group permit.
Setting up camps, carrying supplies, and feeding all fell on our shoulders. We moved from camp to camp with large backpacks.
But it so happened that on the 13th day I, Vova Roshko and Dima Necheporenko were on the summit of Manaslu without oxygen and sherpas. In the afternoon of the same day, Vitaly Lazo and Anton Pugovkin descended the mountain on skis. Sasha Pavlov, during his first attempt, got very cold, so he turned around and waited for us at the assault camp. I gave him my high-altitude suit and he went up the mountain the next day.
You can read about it in detail here: First time at 8000m – part 1, Mountain of Spirit: climbing Manaslu – part 2, Climbing the summit and descending – part 3
After an oxygen-free eight on my own, I knew I could try Everest. It was at this point it appeared in my brain as a clear goal, not before.
In the article I only cited the key summits in terms of elevation gain, in between I had many trekking and hiking, at lower altitudes.
My first thought was very daring – to try climbing Everest without oxygen (good thing I changed my mind). Then I decided it was better with oxygen, but to try two mountains at once – Everest and Lhotse (8,516m). This is also a very daring venture, which at that time only 86 people in the world could cope with.
There were four of us: myself, Roman Gorodechny, Dmitry Semerenko and Ira Galai. Ira had already climbed Everest and her goal was to climb Lhotse without oxygen.
Everyone was actively training, and I went to Nepal three weeks before the start to lead the group on the route: Trek to Everest via Gokyo. It was a good acclimatization for me, and I took my mother to the group so she could see Everest with her own eyes and then feel less anxious.
On April 7th the Ukrainian Everest + Lhotse expedition team got together in Kathmandu. Here we go!
On May 13 around 8 pm we set out for the summit.
On May 14 at 09:12 we stood on top of the world!
It took 20 hours to go on the assault. 13 hours of ascent and seven hours of descent.
All in all we spent about 34 hours without sleep.
I describe my expedition in detail in my diary:
Part 1. The Ukrainian expedition to Everest + Lhotse – the beginning
Part 2. Everest + Lhotse expedition – first leg up the mountain.
More to come)
Everest has changed each of us. Now we know even more clearly that anything is possible. We have climbed to the top of the world, but there are many more to come!
My future plans:
25.06.2018 – Climbing Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn
05.09.2018 – Climbing Cho Oyu (8,201m)
21.10.2018 – Climbing Ama Dablam (6,856m)
January 2019 – Winston Peak, program in progress
Spring 2019 – if there is a team, I will climb Everest. For myself I will try to climb Lhotse.
Author: Taras Poznii, the founder and head of the club Kuluar
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