Russians Jannu bid over
14:36 p.m. EDT Oct 14, 2003
The Big Walls Russian Routes called off their attempt on Jannu. After days of heavy snow buried most of the fixed ropes and amid unpredictable avalanches that rumble like thunder down the steep peak, the guys decided to tempt fate no further and will return next spring for another try.
From the beginning, the Jannu team has met with one obstacle after another. The first was coming face to face with the unknown mountain and trying to select the route. Team leader Alexander Odinstov give some details:
We came to Base Camp. The mountain looked like an absolutely unknown mountain from there. It seemed enormous, white and not vertical compared with the photos. We were estranged from it and we were in a quandary: "What do we have to do and what route should we climb?"
We couldn't pass the ice-fall. It looked like an intricate labyrinth through a heap of ice-blocks. And we couldn't find the visible exit from that side of the route. To correct the ascent from another side of the valley was impossible because of the cloudy sky. And the ice-fall was really dangerous. Trying to shoot (film) avalanches going down I counted 14 ice collapses in one day. But I couldn't shoot them through the fog- I could tape only a roar.
The rhythm of the ascent was not set. We spent 5 days instead of one working on the ice-fall. We couldn't take the fixed ropes off from the ice. Everything was hidden under the snow.
I climbed the plateau. I enjoyed the beautiful stiffened waves of a snow, a game playing by penumbras. There were nice views to shoot. But a cold wind made anyone feel alone and homeless there. You feel yourself like a unique warm droplet on these open spaces! After climbing higher I could shoot a film there. It was a little drier and there were more shafts of light in the sky. But the valley below was hidden by clouds and it was raining there. Here snowfall begins in the afternoon as a rule. It takes us 4-5 hours to climb up to the end of the fixed ropes. Sometimes we had to move hard with might and main through the falling snow.... whiteness from all four sides. And if you can't understand where you have to move: up or down, the most pleasant thing you can do is to descend on your fixed ropes to a warm tent in a Camp. In the mornings it's too difficult to force yourself to wake up and begin the ascent. We spend 2-3 hours to have breakfast and gather.
However, as Alexander Ruchkin adds, In spite of civil war in Nepal, our broken satellite phone, injured team member had to go home and the weather fulll of autumn surprises the Five climbers stayed in a team have climbed up to 7070m.
The team established three camps from a rock bastion at 5600m to their snow cave camp at 7000m and were attempting to fix the ropes above when the unrelenting weather kicked in. They waited things out to try for another shot. But after a week spent overcoming the deep snow conditions at altitude while narrowly avoiding avalanches, the guys decided save whatever equipment not already lost to nature, pack it in and return to Jannu next year.
The Big Walls - Russian Routes team has its sights set on twelve of the world's biggest walls. They've currently accomplished six of the twelve and will be going for Jannu's unclimbed wall - 7710m. For a warm-up, the team traveled to Tien Shan where they successfully summited Khan Tengri.
Image of Big Walls-Russian Routes team members in snow cave at 7000m courtesy of mountain.ru.