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 The South Face of Nuptse Autumn 2003


 
Valery Babanov is challenging a forbidding mount Nuptse East (7804 m) for the third time. This time his partner is a famous Rostov climber Yuri Koshelenko. Their expedition started on the 13th of September. They took a flight from Dakka to Nepal, where they plan to stay till early November. 

Yuri Koshelenko:  —  A year ago Valery for the first time invited me to join him in Himalayas. In general, I treat Valera with high respect and I sincerely wished him victory in his solo climb of Nuptse in 2002. Though I warned Valera that he’ll encounter such obstacles in autumn that are very dangerous for a solo climber. For example, I predicted a number of hollow snow ridges that are almost insurmountable for a soloist. My coach and friend Alexander Pogorelov came across similar problems at Lhotse in 1990 (it was a famous expedition when soviet team had first-climbed The South Face of Lhotse). The same happened when we with Pogorelov had been climbing SSE buttress of Khan-Tengri. That time we had just four pitches of `hollow snow’ and it took a whole day to climb them. Belay was `human-based’: if I was falling down one side of a ridge, Alexander was jumping to the other and vice versa.

  As Nuptse East was left virgin, the idea revived. So when we returned from reconnaissance of the North Face of Everest and met Valera at 50th anniversary of Everest first-climb, our conversation was continued. There we decided that if Valera continues his attempts, I’ll join him.

  We have already worked together with Valera. It was in February of 1998 when we in a duo first-climbed a `fallen wall’ of Pti-Dru. None dared to climb around after a grandiose 500-meter segment of a wall collapsed there. So we were the first ones. We called this route `Helen’ in honour of our Russian fellow-climber Helen who was lost in a summer of 1997.

 Valery Babanov: – Nuptse East is still one of the highest virgin summits so our expedition is very relevant. What about our chances for success?  Well, fifty-fifty as its usual in Himalayas. We’ll try our best, though. Much depends on weather: it may void all our most sophisticated tricks. I think we’ll meet usual weather with a quantity of snow that will bury our fixed ropes. Moreover, we don’t know what we may meet on a highest part of a route where no human has ever been.

    In a duo with Vladimir Suviga we had done prodigious work and reached the maximal possible (in that conditions) height of 7450 m. We have thought it over again and checked everything. Reinhold Messner agreed with us that it is the only acceptable tactics for a duo at such a route. We’ll fix ropes along South-East ridge and climb upper part in an Alpine style.

    It’s very possible that we’ll not be alone in a base camp below Nuptse East. American expedition will try the same summit. Its leader, Fabrizio Zangrilli, shared their plans with me in our private correspondence. – `Firstly we wished to climb up the most logical route but minding your previous two attempts and the amazing amount of work you’ve done, we are ready to leave South Pillar for you and took House/Blanchard route’ (the route climbed in 2002 and known as Steve House’s route). I have no information about any other climbing team attempting Nuptse this season.

  This time we faced severe financial problems. I invested the money I earned as a guide in Chamonix, Yuri put up his money. Truly speaking, it is the only cause why we are climbing in a  duo. Volodya Suviga could join us, but – damned money…

More background on the expedition is here.

   In this expedition we are sponsored with BASK, BEAL, Canon, Boreal, Simond и Julbo. Our clothing is excellent as usual: we with Yura prefer BASK equipment.







 

 

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