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Between us, to jump from a bridge 100 meters high, it’s not necessary to have great abilities. There is enough desire to experience mortal fear. You will also need a…

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Long way to the top

How long has Chomolungma become a magnet for climbers? – Oddly enough, this sounds, but Dzhomolungme “old” is only 130 years old. More precisely, from the moment when “the mother of the gods of the earth” (the name is translated from Tibetan) was recognized as the highest peak of the planet. In the last century, methods for measuring heights were not so perfect, and until 1852 the Jomolungma was considered … only the fifteenth largest mountain. So it was listed on the maps: “Peak XV.”

Attempts to conquer Chomolungma, or Everest, began in 1921. But only in 1953 on May 29, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherp Norgay Tenzing reached the highest point in the world – 8848 meters above sea level. Now there are more than a hundred conquerors of Everest. About the same as astronauts on Earth. This has its own symbolism. “Mountain space”, in principle, is as harsh and inaccessible as cosmic space …

The first climb to Mount Everest by Soviet climbers was to take place in 1959. I remember those times very well. The expedition was planned joint – Soviet-Chinese. Our climbers trained a lot, were in great shape. We could be among the first winners of the Jomolungma: since the feat of Hillary and Tenzing, only six people have been at the top of the world. But the expedition did not take place. I had to part with the dream of Chomolungm for a while …

– Probably, the preparations for the expedition were not in vain?

– Sure. In 1959, a group of climbers, which included many athletes from the failed expedition to Everest, under the leadership of hydraulic engineer, honored master of sports Kirill Kuzmin, climbed the highest point of the USSR – the peak of Communism (7495 meters). It was the highest difficulty. Climbers stormed the summit along the buttress of the southern wall from the Belyaev Glacier. The top five climbers completed the route in four days, having overcome a steep, impregnable rib …

If we take into account that the buttress of the southern wall of the peak of Communism with its relief, steepness, length and ice conditions well models the southwestern slope of Everest (though all marks are 1300 meters lower), then the successful ascent of this group can be considered the beginning of a long journey to Chomolungma. The path dragged on for 23 years.

It was on the southern wall of the peak of Communism that the candidates for our expedition last year practiced climbing tactics during the summer training. And it is along the southwestern buttress of Everest – not yet used by anyone and, apparently, the most difficult of all known routes – our climbers will go to the highest point of the Earth.

“Now that we are talking, it is winter.” January 1982 What awaits climbers in the coming months?

– Basic training and medical tests are already behind. Of the 45 candidates, three fours of the main group and four of the auxiliary staff were selected. Approved by the trainers, the head physician, translator, radio operator and the chief food engineer – simply a cook.

According to the plan, we will ship ten tons of equipment, products on board the aircraft, and the advanced group will fly to Kathmandu. From the capital of Nepal, climbers and cargo will be delivered to Lukla by plane of a local airline. And then a caravan of porters, each of which will carry 30 kilograms of cargo, will set off on a 150-kilometer trek — seven more days to Khumbhu Glacier, where a base camp will be set up at an altitude of 5400 meters. Then the processing of the route, the construction of intermediate camps and, finally, the assault.

Now, when the team spends days and nights at the final training camp at the Olympic complex in Krylatskoye, when doctors conduct crucial tests, when the pressure chambers test the participants “for strength”, I recall the past two very stressful years and think about the many people who took direct participation in the preparation of climbing of the highest complexity. And about that. how many worries fell on the shoulders of the Himalayan organizing committee.

A comparison with an iceberg comes to my mind: the assault itself is only a surface part, but how much labor, searches, bold solutions, successful inventions are hidden “under water” ?! Or you can compare it with a mountain – this is more suitable for a climber: only a peak sparkling in the sun is visible above a sea of ​​clouds. Here it is, the goal! But you will not get to it until you pass the whole mountain from the foot to the clouds.

A typewritten list of property on my desk can tell a lot about this “underwater part of the iceberg”, about the massive body of the mountain hidden by clouds. It is called the “Mandatory list of personal equipment and uniforms of a member of the Himalayan expedition.” But to comment on the “List …”, many hours would not be enough …

“Then maybe we’ll start from the tent?” After all, a high-rise tent is the climber’s house …

– I remember that in 1959 I had to spend the night on the pass of the OPTE ridge – the Society of Proletarian Tourism and Excursions – in the Pamirke tent, sewn from the so-called gas holder fabric – rubberized percale. Pamir, a height of five kilometers. Frost – minus twenty. At night, the tent was fastened with all the clivants.

DEAN POTTER
Dean Potter is an incredible person. A solo climber, a climber, a climber, a base jumper, a highliner, as well as a baseball player. This person is known to everyone…

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