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May 30, 2004 05: 51 EST
The Everest Central North Face direct (The Russian NF Direttissima) opened today is the most significant new route on Everest, and one of the most significant routes on any 8000 meters. It also marks the twenty year anniversary of the last new, clean route on Everest; the Great Couloir 1984. Time to check the route map to your right (Chomolungma Nirvana) on the home page, we saved it exactly for this occasion!

Comments Eberhard Jurgalski of AdventureStats:
"This is the absolute highlight of the season! The two couloirs left and right are difficult enough, but the central pillar... This is something like the 'North Face Direttissima'."

The guys worked the route relentlessly through all weather and difficulties. They even survived oxygen bottles thrown at them. The final crux was unexpected. They hit 6 grade rock at 8600 m. This forced them to spend three days and two (!) nights at 8600 meters (camp 5), without sleepingbags, with only 2 os bottles each for survival. That is absolutely outstanding.

They reached the camp 5 carrying tent, ropes, gas and meals. The backpacks were very heavy for this kind of altitude. The fixed 5 mm rope on the rocks, which were so hard they bent the pitons. Because the technical, hard rock was unexpected, the guys didn't have enough oxygen and had to use what they had sparsely, working on minimal flow.

Today was D-day "They will reach the summit, or descend - a fourth day at 8600m is impossible." But instead of going down, the Shabaline team, Pavel Shabaline, Iljas Tukhvatullin and Andrew Mariev turned up at the summit to make Everest history today May 30, 2004, at 10.00 am local time. Two more teams are heading up in this hour as the team is descending the snowfield.

RussianClimb got the news almost the minute it happened and alerted ExplorersWeb who broke the news on Google News and in newsletters alerts worldwide.

“When I saw this Wall for the first time, I wanted to climb it right away.”

The Russian North Face crew scouted the North Face already in May 2002, when they planned the line from BC. In a second scouting expedition in 2003 the climbers managed to climb via the center of the North Face up to 6800 meters.

"The main difficulty will be rocks at that altitude. When I saw this Wall for the first time, I wanted to climb it right away... This huge, grandiose, beautiful wall on the highest mountain. Our team is very strong. We promise to do our best to climb the new Russian route to Everest," said Eugeny Vinogradsky, a legend of Soviet and Russian Mountaineering.

Shabalin's group: A Russian Dream Team

Shabaline and his team (Shabaline, Tukhvatullin, Mariev) were responsible for the very difficult task of fixing the highly technical parts at 8000m and up, the Bastion. The rest of the team said earlier: “Everything depends on Shabaline's group working the Bastion, we are counting on them.”
Pavel Shabaline had earlier Ak-Su - 10 climbs, Khan Tengri, Northern face; and El-Capitan. Andrew Mariev had К2, and Nanga-Parbat. Iljas Tukhvatullin had Everest, Ak-Su (6 ascents), and Khan Tengri Northern face.

The Siberia Group: Next up

Eugeny Vinogradsky has Everest four climbs (all with oxygen), three climbs on Cho Oyu, Fall double header Shisha Pangma - Cho Oyu.
Gleb Sokolov; High-speed solo to Khan Tengri (14 hours from base camp and back), Makalu, Lhotse, Lhotse Shar, Lhotse Middle.
Piotr Kuznetsov; Everest twice (the first time via the classic route, the second the North Face first ascent up to 6400m), Lhotse Middle, and Khan Tengri.

Ermachek's group:
Yuri Ermachek was winner of the Piolet d’or for the ascent on Makalu, Western Face, Everest, Lhotse Middle, Khan Tengri, Northern Face, and Annapurna. Victor Volodin has done Everest before. Nickolay Zhilin is the winner of the Piolet d’or for the ascent on Makalu Western Face and Khan Tengri.

Kuznetsov, Sokolov and Ermachek were members of the team that successfully summited the "last unclimbed 8000er" in the world - Lhotse Middle, spring 2001.

Koshelenko's Group:

Yuri Koshelenko, nominated for the Piolet d’or four times, the winner of the Piolet d’or for the ascent on Nuptse East; first ascents on Ak-Su, Khan Tengri, Petit Dru, Trango Tower, leads the third group. Victor Bobok has Shisha Pangma and Alexey Bukinitch. Alexey is the youngest member of the team, he has experience with ascents on 7-thousanders, He has Koshelenko's recommendation. Bukinitch won't work at the wall however - the doctor won't let him - 'he's too young for the high altitude' said Dr. Bytchkovsky.

More details on the team later.

This is a severe, technical climb to the left of the Hornbein/Japanese couloir. The guys are going straight up, on a clean and lofty face. The technical difficulty of the route along with the extreme altitude makes this one of the most difficult challenges in mountaineering.
The 20-member team of Russian climbers is supported by the Russian Mountaineering Federation. Many of the climbers were members of the team that successfully summited the "last unclimbed 8000er" in the world - Lhotse Middle, spring 2001

Image of the route (red line), Camp 5 (red dot), rock crux (orange line) and teams (dots) RussianClimb/ExplorersWeb

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