Long enough have we been waiting for that event and, finally, it happened. The calendar spring didn’t prevent us from arranging the backcountry camp at the foot of the Bakening volcano. Our today’s talk will be about the first part of the epochal expedition – «Bakening 2012″ (the expedition consisted of two parts).
Four Moscow riders took part in this expedition – Nikita Pecherskiy, Mikhail Averyanov, Igor Shustenko, Tatyana Gileva – and ten most experienced free riders from Kamchatka Freeride Community team, namely: Kirill Seregin, Mstislav Sokolovskiy, Max and Pavel Vereshchyaka, Alexander Zoben’ko, Alexey Pugovkin, Miha Ved’ma, Leha Matveev, Denis Kres’ko as well as Misha Kotlyarchuk.
The preparation work for the expedition went off on the highest level, the whole week before the departure day organizers were busy with sorting out attendant mountain-trip problems: packing up, outfit and equipment check, foodstuff buying, etc. Due to thorough organizers’ efforts in trip planning and all other preparations, for many riders one-week journey into the heart of the Kamchatka peninsula turned into an unforgettable dream, they’d like to get into one more time.
So, March 24th, Saturday, while Moscow riders, Denis and I were assessing the slopes of local ski and snowboard resorts, other expedition members set off for a long journey. Nearly 200 km separates Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy from the bridge over the Pravaya Kamchatka river (the Right Kamchatka river). We made the decision to divide our team because of recent heavy snow fall and a huge load that included three snowmobiles.
But my backcountry journal will start from the next day, March 25, Sunday. Morning came an hour earlier, because my smart gadget had put the clock back one hour, without warning its owner. Apparently electronics sneeze at the President’s decree. I was getting some extra sleep in the seat of the bus station waiting room, where the get-together with the rest of the team had been arranged. After the short delay at the ticket office we loaded ourselves into the «jet bus».
The likeness between that Korean bus and an aircraft was amusing: the same boarding passes, pre-departure fuss and other attributes of boarding procedure, and only a petite airhostess was lacking.
In a few hours we were tucking away famous Blackberry pies (one-kilo each) in Sokochi village, and in a stopover in Ganaly (some distance from Puchzhino) we got off on the bridge over the Pravaya Kamchatka river, where guys had been already waiting for us on snowmobiles.
Having fastened tightly all our belongings we set off. Sixteen kilometers of sunlit landscapes separated the camp from the main road. The spot perfect for camping is worth a special attention, thank to the organizers who had approached that question with an expert skill.
The camp was set up on the small woody islet, where guys had raised a real camp town (and it took them only several hours) with the most state-of the-art dining and drying rooms and a restroom.
Gas stoves, heat cannon, outdoor and indoor lighting, sockets for recharging of frozen batteries and even a laptop that survived sweet tea attack! To tell the truth, I’d expected far less luxurious service from one-week trip in mountains.
On arrival we added a special zest into our camp atmosphere – though weak but working Genius speakers that did last bit in turning the camp into heavenly place in the middle of nowhere.
Having inspected the camp, we dropped the backpacks and rushed to the snowmobiles – tents could wait till evening. We spent much time on road, that’s why nobody was eager to storm any of nearby peaks.
Fortunately, closely there was a great place for riding with a plenty of steeps and soft snow. With renewed strength we darted to the slope!
An unknown power turned off our good senses, and guys started to do the drops. Unreal flights and bad falls, the brightest sun and the most welcome snow forced us to go up again and again. Our photographer Mishanaya (also known as Quid) did a fantastic job that first day. After dinner presentation of snaps became a good evening tradition and inspired us for next great deeds.
BTW, speaking about food! All the products had been pre-packed and dated accurately. Also organizers took care of our daily diet. The couple that was in charge of the kitchen had to prepare three kettles of boiling water for tea and cereals and keep an eye on freshness of water.
When the music accompaniment appeared in the camp, we arranged an impromptu dance place. Next morning when we were looking at animals’ tangled footprints, we had a feeling that even hares had danced with us to the peppy beats.
Yeah, it was freaking cold, but we managed it. Everybody had armed themselves with extra-warm clothes which were enough even for “export”. The main thing was amiable and friendly atmosphere. Having wrapped myself in two winter sleeping bags, I was exploring the snow litter under the tent with my bottom until found the most suitable pose. Nevertheless next morning the contours of my body on the snow were frozen for good, so the following week I had to sleep in one position.
The morning was lovely, and our chef Ved’ma treated us to the tastiest porridge. Then we set to warm our boots to get their possible flexible condition. The presence of drying place was encouraging, but it didn’t work 24-hour, and all wet things got stiff after yesterday’s ride.
Therefore, we got used to the repeated morning routine – riders try desperately to pull on their frozen snowboarding or skiing boots and accompany the process with magic swearing words.
On the second day we set off to conquer one of the neighbouring peaks. 5-10 minute ride on a snowmobile at full speed and guys had to start breaking a trail.
Every 200m snow cover was different from friable snow to impenetrable ice. In some places it was best to go up the bare stones. There were plenty of rocky spots but a skilled free rider always succeeds in finding the smoothest way.
After a bite on top, we started to prepare for the descent. Every member of the expedition had an avalanche rescue set, a rucksack, a helmet; organizers, in their turn, checked timely the outfits and took care of batteries charge, as they ran down quickly in the frost.
Unlike the long way up, the descent was short was surely memorable and breathtaking. At the foot snowmobiles picked us up and headed for the camp which for all us was a truly home.
Having changed into the second set of clothing and having had dinner, all camp inhabitants began to gather around the campfire. We spent hours exchanging funny stories and having a good laugh and a good cry (the latter from the acrid smoke). Everyone went to bed at a different time, but by 10pm the majority was already sleeping the sleep of the innocent.
On the third day we went a bit far from the camp to the Bakening volcano.
Having reached an amazing rock jut, we consolidated our success with a photo shoot and a lunch. Then we started the downhill.
The Bakening’s slopes were made for backcountry.
Freeride championship could be organized on each of its slopes.
ОWe didn’t know where to go first, the abundance of rocks and steeps was stunning.
But alas, man’s strength isn’t endless, we felt squeezed out, exhausted and on top of the world at the same time. That day riding was a triumph.
In addition Misha Kotlyarchuk made posh snaps.
BTW, not all riders were beat up after such a busy day, some daredevils found suitable places for dropping near the camp.
Unfortunately Slavik Sokolovskiy hurt seriously his arm: strong pain in his shoulder forced him to change the program – the following day he was brought to the main road where a passing car took him to the town.
On the fourth day I was on duty in the kitchen with Tanya, the only girl in the camp, who’d cooked the most delicious soup. That day was as eventful as previous ones.
We planned to attack another soaring peak.
Those 1400m were not easy for us; we had to use and keep our heads.
The view on top was amazing as if we were looking out of a plane window.
The Sredinniy mountain range with its “ups and downs” was all before our eyes. And we were anticipating a cool freeride.
To while away the time before dinner our skiers started to show exhibition jumps in the very camp.
The snowboarding part of the group kept up with them and built a small ramp where we all had a real fun.
Next day it was snowing slightly and the sky looked leaden and swollen. There was no point in going to the Bakening volcano, so we decided to stay in the camp. The third season of “Sherlock Holmes” brightened up our lives considerably.
However, knowing that riding in the poudre is a special treat, Nikita, Misha and I went to the closest hill for our portion of adrenalin.
One by one the rest of the camp residents joined us. Thus Thursday became an official free ride day!
On Friday we went to the beautiful spot over the pass at the foot of the Bakening volcano.
The long road on snowmobiles wasn’t worthless. Nothing could spoil our determination, even the strongest gale-force wind.
That riding lived up to all our expectations. In the end, snow mobiles pulled us up to the pass, where we started our independent 10-km descent to the very tents.
The diner was great as well as our usual get-togethers at the camp fire. The satellite phone call informed us about approaching cyclone.
To save the time and efforts we decided to finish our first expedition on Saturday, Day 7. Next morning some of us were busy making their farewell rides.
Having packed everything we left the camp on snowmobiles and went to the main road, where after three hours the long-awaited bus picked us up.
In a few hours we got to Sokochi (those who forget – reread the paragraph about giant pies) and then came back to Elizovo. When I realized the trip was over, I had mixed feelings – both joy and sadness.
We’d hardly finished the first expedition when suddenly the second one began. Kirill Seregin, Sanya Zoben’ko, Leha Pugovkin, Miha Ved’ma and Nikita Pecherskiy together with Vanya Nuzhdaev had to arrive to the foot of the Bakening volcano on snowmobiles in difficult weather conditions.
The whole week they kept us tense, we were really fretting about their state, but fortunately, they coped with everything! Imagine, their most complicated part over the pass coincided with the cyclone that befell Kamchatka.
But you know, all’s well that ends well!..