“Don’t be afraid of a failure, be afraid of a lost opportunity!..” I opted for this phrase to begin the story of the spring’s brightest event!
Since last summer I’ve been choosing painstakingly the place perfect for film-making and fantastic riding. In the long run the jags of the Ganalskiye rocks crossed my mind. That was it – a tremendous, dangerous and at the same time tempting place.
After discussing with Vitya Zakharin and looking through his last year heliski photos of that area, figured couloirs, already admired by Anna Khankevich in her blog, became my cherished dream..
Each time, imagining how many difficulties and dangers are lurking in a wait on the way to the goal, I looked through the photo portfolio, kindly provided to me by Vitya, and tried to find soul mates.. sharing spring plans with many of my mad friends, who in their turn mostly screwed finger at the temple..)
Even if they were ready mentally, they didn’t have such opportunity to escape to mountains.. due to jobs, to cares, then to other reasons..)
Only Travis duly appreciated this idea and sincerely wished me luck to scrape the chosen route)
But running ahead of the story want to notice that it was impossible to scrape.. the snow was ideal)
I didn’t have opportunity to escape to Ganaly in the beginning of March together with rough beard wild hillfolks due to amount of circumstances. So I almost lost hope to visit this sacred region.. But as we know, hope is the last to die…)
Deciding to switch off the city ado and stopping on the way home at camp «Antarius», I met many familiar and dear faces. Exactly here I found out that Anya plans to go to Ganaly circus, and moreover she was open to an idea of me joining the team)
When I understood that I still have chance to do something worthtrying in this season, I seized the initiative and started bombarding her with questions and options for drop off with bunch of schemes and photos..)
After understanding that we have the same goals and choosing main team set (heroes of which I’ll name later) we set the date.. April 6, when all of us were ready to head on the way.. The only thing that could stop us was lack of weather conditions and towed skidoo..) As we found out later, we faced both of these issues..)
The bridge along the stream Vaktan-Malkinsky, where a route to the circus starts, is located 150 km from Elizovo, quite a distance. Moreover, those who want to get to this unique object must be ready to another 15 km of back country way with constant ascents and descends.
Going for a short «vacation» couple of days earlier, with an ideas of warming up, checking the equipment, showing picturesque views to the guys and keeping myself in shape, I hit the trail to volcano Avachinsky..)
Closer to weekend the weather started to close dawn and we clearly understood that waiting in tents for the end of snow-storm is not an option.. As a back-up plan I proposed to head to the south, to the wonderful camp Snezhnaya dolina, at the footstep of volcano Vilyuchinsky, where there’s plenty of ski-touring places. And in a company of such sporty beauties all could’ve been more than just exceptional..)
Now about the beauties themselves..
Tanya Vilimovich, already before arrival she sent the full proper diet sheet of existing and required, actually calculating all our yields in grams, and later she continued to check our diet..) Have to admit that I haven’t been following that correct diet as with her even at home..)
With Anya I’d already met before, together we and «the time did» and the resorts skied..) But, unfortunately, never before I had chance to go to mountains with her.
3 days at the camp are stuck in a memory as a 3 interesting routes, which we somehow improvised together… Generally I came up with ideas and the girls laid an interesting routes to them..
They had the better sense of direction than any navigator, even in unknown mountains!..
Repeatedly I and Tyoma were filled with admiration for their masterful handling with compass and map..)
Oh, right, Tyema! A talented, young cameramen, who seemed to me at the first sight in the airport a hell of I-don’t-care-kinda-guy, but with every following minute I was convincing in the opposite..
Very responsible, proper and ready to any initiatives guy, who, with completely rubbed with blisters feet, followed us with camera finding good perspectives).. and there were many)
Finished skiing on both side of the camp on the Goryachaya bald peak, we made a further ski tour to the foothill,
where we’d been rewarded with a marvelous views and quite a good snow conditions..
The slope apparently sighed under weight of our presence.. (with such a solid diet, you can bet it would, we’d got battened on thermal waters)
But the descend was great..
To tell the truth, the way home was blocked by one tight and serious obstacle.. river..)
A bit following bears tracks in a hope to find any rift, we didn’t come up with a better idea than «to swim across»..)
I found the shallowest place in a river, we got on the other bank and rushed home with the heating floors in a desire to get warm in a hot thermal pool..)
Came back to Elizovo, made some shopping for filling up our supplies, conducted excursion to the guys to Kronotsky natural reserve and began to prepare to the main start..
Although, as soon as the air smelled like departure to Ganaly, there was a nasty turn in the weather.. But as the popular wisdom says the worst day in mountains is better than the best day at home or in a city.. Counting on the weather forecast promising us minimum 2 sunny days out of 4, we set out forward.
One more time want to thank a mill to Max Belomestnikh and Tyema Lyakh for helping with drop off and especially for skidoo..))
Way up to the camping spot took couple of hours.. With such nimbleness and desire girls wanted to see these picks that they were ready to dart away at a full speed on foot, tho the skidoo helped us a lot and fastened the process..)
Won across several passes we saw an amazing valley and Ganal circus itself..
We hastened to snap photos against the volcano, before the weather hadn’t hid it from our camera lenses, and satisfied started to set up the camp..
After celebrating housewarming, we closed up in sleeping bags and fall asleep with a smile in expectation of the following day..
Inside the orange tent as if in rose-colored glasses any weather seems much more positive, tho we couldn’t see a thing when we went outside..
Although freak weather of Kamchatka can surprise both negatively and pleasant.. So, after letting the guys go home, we decided to try and check one of the couloirs. But the mist fell so low that for the safety reasons a decision to cancel the ascend was made..
While girls were making snow pit and crush tests, I took the shovel and began to warm up..)
In the beginning me and Tyema wanted to built nomads tent.. but in the end we made a thrown..)
We took couple of photos and came back to the camp.. had lunch and closed up in sleeping bags..
Then happened incredible and unheard… The time – not more than 4 o’clock and we are already in beds and without any specific dealings and tasks.. To the strains of Anya’s wonderful reading, after making couple of notes in my diary, I fell asleep.. My body must had gone nuts out of such generosity, but.. after all I was on vacation..)
Although, the calm usually comes before the storm.. and already in the evening was clear that the forecast holds true and the cyclone leaves, and tomorrow is expected to be wonderful and sunny.. Tho before that we were expecting frosty night and morning..)
But let’s skip all these small routine difficulties, I can only be thankful for myself for splurging on good sleeping bag.. It was very comfortable to sleep in it for me, as well as to my numerous equipment)
In the morning getting out of the bears lair had to move pretty snappy so as not to get frozen while putting on all available clothes.. But I’d found the way to do one useful thing instead of doing morning exercises.. I built a big kicker at the walls of the camp..)
To be honest, I built and shaped it mostly for Anya. As being snowboarder I didn’t really have place to take run where the guys used poles..)
..whereat Anya smiling noticed that only snowboarder could come up with an idea to build a purely snowboard kicker for skiers..)
Anyhow the kicker was more or less shaped, what we hurried to capture on camera..
But the story is not about that. So, Monday, 14th of April, after having breakfast and packing all snacks in our backpacks we went ahead..
To tell the truth I was lazy to put on skins on my split board and knowing that the route wouldn’t be that long I hastened to catch up the girls «in my boots»
In the beginning it was quite difficult, but later when angle became a bit stiffer, they’d uncovered and I breathed a sigh of relief..)
There was no need to catch up anybody,
moreover I had chance to rush somebody else..
Telling later at «Antarius» that I tracked a route almost drowning in a pure powder up to my shoulders, Ralf totally seriously asked if I smoked something and where did we find powder there?!
It’s incredible but is a real truth..
After a small cyclone, fresh snow that hadn’t yet came dawn filled all couloirs delivering both joy and troubles..
Besides crawling through such a narrow elevator shaft wasn’t that calming and pleasant.. The feeling that any second you can drop dawn with this powder like in an elevator was all the time lurking in my mind..
Тhus we were moving very cautiously, keeping closer to the right edge, which in case could’ve been a bit safer..
But on the other hand, putting off all negative things and focusing mind on beauty, it was impossible not to admire the indescribable beauty of the surrounding rocky ridges..
The feeling that you are not somewhere in Caucasus or Himalayan mountains, but at home, on the Kamchatka, the country of volcanoes.. more and more pleased and motivated with every step..
Still, the most important thing that I’ve emphasized for myself in that ascend, is that we are like those possums, really dump..)
..That in the line “sex’’ for our girls should be written in bold letters ‘’Male’’, and not a boy, but dude or bro))
And the main is that hell I ever go anywhere else without a personal radio set..)
The scariest thing that can frighten me is not even an avalanche or lava.. but the lack of information and obscurity..
Splitted up near the pick at the small crossing I was left without connection.. Even when by that time the sun had risen quite high illuminating the slopes.. everything started to avalanche..
I won’t now try to seem brave and cool, and to tell the truth it was scary.
But in that situation I probably made the right choice staying and waiting at the agreed place and not trying to catch them up or to descend the first.. It was not the right place for such an incoordinated improvisation.
Looking back now of course I blame myself and ask myself “Why are you such a jerk? ”.. But recalling in memory all the thoughts and feelings in those minutes.. No, I made everything right..)
Well, then was the fabulous descend in February powder that with the help of unknown wind somehow appeared in April couloirs..)
Hikes in a sunny circus and hunt for avalanches..)
Meeting with locals..
..and just a pleasant and soulful time spending with unreal majestic background)
Believe me, the sunset is especially good there..
The next morning, after a bit of ski touring, we made decision to raise the camp and get ready to the way back..
It was obviously sad to leave this beloved place, but.. the exhaustion of 2 weeks ski tour took toll and I was eager to get back to asphalt..)
Comically recalling in my mind how my eagerness spluttered in the 15 kilometer hike back..)
Unlike the girls, who were neatly packed and easily and airily skied to the road (as well as Tyema, who was overloaded, but anyway on skis), I on split board with much less pleasure was trying to move both ways up and dawn..) Skin put on on my split didn’t give much opportunity to get speed on the descends, so to see the long-desired highway in the following 3-4 hours I had to sweat a lot..
After playing 1 hour more in Contact and desperate to catch a ride, we put on all the warm clothes and began to wait for the bus..
Imagine our joy when instead of the bus we saw Tyemich coming from the other side..)
Couple of words about Tyema..) He’s also a totally legendary person in Kamchatka circles.. on the day when the team decided to head back home, the weather started to get worse.. Tyema gives his navigator saying:
- How can I check the track we’ve just recorded?
I am pressing couple of buttons.. «Here you are!..»
- «And how can I delete it now?..»
«Hmm, are you sure?.. Done, take it..»
- «Great! More interesting without it! Max, let’s go!))»
On the way home we turned to Sokochi for tasting giant energy pies..
Returned to Elizovo, to the house, kindly provided to us by administration of Kronotsky reserve, and started to look through the photos, recalling recent difficulties and planning new more delicious ideas and routes!