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Siberia-America and an Award: The new life of Valery Babanov
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Dec 1, 2004 17: 01 EST
Russian climbing ace Valery Babanov has started a brand new life - in Canada. In a recent chat with ExplorersWeb he said that he immigrated to the North American country in February.

He founded a guiding company there - Vertical Adventure Inc: “Now I climb a lot in Canadian Rockies. Those are nice mountains, with plenty of possibilities and new lines to be opened.”

Valery is not enjoying the Canadian winter though. A credited ENSA (French mountain guide), he is spending the next months in Chamonix (France), guiding and climbing by the Mont Blanc Massif.

Explorer of the year

Good news was also awaiting Babanov somewhere else in Europe: The Russian climber was invited to give a lecture for the Explorers Festival, taking place in Lodz, Poland, November 17-22.

German Thomas Huber and British Doug Scott were also among the VIP guests. “It's not a short trip from Canada to Poland for me. But, nevertheless...” said Valery, and off he went.

After showing some slides, he was amazed at the long ovation given to him by the 700-800 people who crowded the hall. Afterwards he was even more delighted as Scott and he was handed a trophy, a hand-shake and a diploma which read:

“THE AWARD EXPLORER 2004 to Mr.Valery Babanov, Russia.
Is awarded for long-term presence at the world of high mountains, for his achievements in the highest-grade climbs, which strengthen our conviction that the person and his belief in own opportunities allows us to come closer once again to a limit, which we constantly aspire to reach.”

Siberia’s only option: Become outstanding!

Life seems to be sweet for Valery, but no doubt the guy has earned all of it. Born in Omsk (Siberia) he had to fight his way to climb. In a land of many tough climbers and not so much money to share, he had no option but to become outstanding.

Even if that meant avoiding the huge ‘official’ expeditions and go for the mountains solo. From new routes on the big North Faces of the Alps, to the Himalayas. Valery is the only climber in history to be awarded the international Piolet d’Or twice in a row: Two years ago, for his solo, first climb on Meru Central, in Garwhal Himalaya; and last year - together with Yuri Koshelenko - for the first ascent on Nuptse East.

Future plans: Back to the Himalayas?

After those impressive Himalayan ‘firsts’, we sure would like to see Babanov back in the 8000ers. So we asked about his plans for the next year:

“I think I’ll go back to Alaska next spring. This May, I tried to open a new route on the South face of McKinley, but the storm overtook us and we had to retreat; climbed only 600 meters. I would like to come back and try again; this time solo perhaps. We’ll see.”

About climbing in the Himalayas...”I guess, in fall season I will try something.”

Image of Valery receiving the Explorer- award, courtesy of Russianclimb.com

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