Multi-national team climbs hard and free in the Bilibino

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 13/09/2015
Hansjorg Auer in the Bilibino. The North Face - Elias Holzknecht
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After last year's discovery by Australians Chris Fitzgerald and Chris Warner of an exiting area of big granite walls north of the Arctic Circle in Siberia, three teams have recently travelled to the area, hoping to add more new free routes.

First, in July, was the all-star group of Hansjorg Auer (Austria), Jacopo Larcher (South Tyrol, Italy), Eneko and Iker Pou (Spain), and Siebe Vanhee (Belgium).

They operated as two independent teams and were accompanied by their respective photographers, Elias Holzknecht from Austria and the Catalan Jordi Canyi.

The five spent a month in the area, opening eight new routes, most of high quality.

On the Commander the Pou brothers put up Into the Wild (425m 7a) in a single push of 11h 20mins, and The Two Parrots (320m 7a) in eight and a half hours.

They also added Aupa (300m 6c, eight hours) and Mosquito Rock Tour (450m 7a+, 11h) to the General.

Auer, Larcher and Vanhee, climbing as a trio, put up the 240m Wake up in Siberia (6b) on the General, and Sketchy Django (400m 6a+) on a previously unclimbed wall leading to the summit of a formation they named the Monk.

This team spent time working two more routes before completing From Zero to Hero (490m 7a) on the General, and Red Corner (450m 7c+) on the Commander.

The group felt this was one of the best trips they had been on, despite having to constantly fight a real unexpected enemy in the form of the Siberian mosquito.

In 2014 Fitzgerald and Warner travelled 60km on quad bikes from the town of Bilibino in the Chukotka region of far eastern Russia, then shuffled their gear for a further 4.5km to the base of the walls.

They put up two routes on the General: the 375m Turilov Route and the 465m Basil Brush. Mosquito Rock Tour lies to the left of the Turilov Route, while From Zero to Hero takes the prow on the left edge of the same face, left of Basil Brush. Other routes climbed on the General this year lie on the face left of Zero to Hero.

On the Commander Red Corner lies to the right of a proposed line attempted by Fitzgerald and Warner. The Australian pair climbed five pitches before getting rained off.

At least two more teams were known to be visiting the area in August.

Chris Fitzgerald was due to return with fellow Australians Natashe Sebire and Gemma Woldendorp, and later in the month was the British pair, Graham Dawson and Simon Smith.

Dawson and Smith experienced many days of stormy weather with hail, snow and thunder. However, despite the early arrival of winter in Siberia, they came away with one new line, the 300m Illium (E4) on the General.

More on these last two trips in a future news report.


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