Following the legendary line of Hyperborea

Female rope party ascent

Climbing the fifth pitch

Nadezhda Olenyova is one of the most productive female climbers of last year. So, having received a message from Nadia that she and her partner passed Hyperborea on Shaan-Kaya, we in the editorial office were not surprised at all. But we asked for details.

By Nadya Oleneva
Photos: Polina Oshmarina, Konstantin Gurnov

Shaan-Kaya is a breathtaking mountain; it is shaped like a ship’s nose and hangs heavily. Her south wall is one of the most difficult in the Crimean mountains—the youngest Crimean brother of El Captain.

Recently Polina Oshmarina and I climbed Hyperborea on Shaan-Kaya (6A, 300 m, VI+, A3). The route is one of the classic and most famous in the Crimea. They tried to climb it back in the 80s, but only Ukrainian climbers Vitaliy Yarechevsky and Vladimir Marunich succeeded in 2001.

The first on the route of Hyperborea were Igor Chaplinsky and Alexey Samoded, but they climbed the line to the middle, interrupting the ascent at 150 m (from here the pendulum to the route Grishchenko).
Vitaliy Yarechevsky (Odesa) and Vladimir Marunich (Nikolaev) finished the line. A year before that, in 2000, they carried out reconnaissance and enhanced the existing belaying points, and in November 2001, they completed a 100-meter overhang – the route key – and reached the top.
The climbers worked the lower part of the route and then spent two nights on the wall in the portaledge.
I can count female ascents of the route on the fingers of one hand. Ukrainian climber Marina Kopteva has climbed the route solo and in the team with Anna Yasinskaya, Galina Chibitok, and Natalia Prilepskaya.

If you look closely, you can see Nadia and Polina

The length of the route is 300 meters, of which overhangs over 200 meters. Sometimes the steepness of the wall exceeds 100 degrees. The fact that after the fifth pitch, it is actually impossible to get down because of big overhang and shift to the left, adds the sharpness.

I’ve wanted to climb this wall for a long time, but the stars were aligned only now. It all matched up: time, place, company. After climbing several routes on Morcheka, I felt the strength and desire to go for something more challenging. Polina supported the idea. I liked the route. The line is logical, the terrain is complicated, and it keeps me in tension all the way to the roof.

We came to Shaan-Kaya in the evening, slept in the cave, and started the route early in the morning. At 6:30.

The first pitch we climbed freely, took only a couple of steps in the ladders approaching the station. The second begins with the overhang and aid climbing. Here we met an unpleasant place – a ruined split-off, where there were no steady places for the aids. In the absence of hols for the feet to pass this place, climbing did not work.

I put small friend, but it crumbled a part of the rock and flew out. I went back in, put a rock fifi in it, like, holding on. I took the weight on it, took a step on the ladder, but the rock fifi flew out, pulling out a stone the size of a fist. There was no limit to disarray: only in the morning, the whole wall in front, but it is not clear how to pass this split-off. I also hit my knee.

On the second pitch

I hovered, checked the protection, and got to the third attempt. This time it was possible to step on a skyhooks and to put a friend higher, instead of the stone which has flown out, the point has sustained. I exhaled and moved on.

In the middle of the wall, the route goes through a sizeable inner corner (4th and 5th pitches) with a good crack for medium friends’ size. I was glad to be able to climb a little. About two-thirds of the fourth pitch, I climbed until the corner began to hang very hard, well, again in the ladders.

A little more climbing was on the 6th pitch, right from the ledge in the inner corner with a thin crack. Apart from that, the difficulty of the wall and the terrain was beyond the limit. Polina was especially happy on all these overhanging traverses, taking out points from the upside-down position and flying with a pendulum.

Climbing the forth pitch

I get more pleasure from free climbing the route rather than with the aids. I like to climb steep sections, dismantle for moves, but often it takes longer than putting gear and step with aider into it. And this time, saving time, I switched to the aid climbing without hesitation.

The top of the wall didn’t want to “lie down.” And somewhere there I, once again balancing on a skyhook on the smooth overhanging mirror, I noticed how Polina turns away from me with, pronouncing the only Russian words, that Elizabeth Olsen knows*. When you work many hours straight on a steep wall, not being able to stand on a tiny ledge at the station, you get tired, not only physically but also psychologically. The mind needs to feel the ground beneath your feet. And the abyss instead of support causes fear. If there comes such a moment, I try to understand if I have objective reasons to be scared and make sure that the protection points and belay stations are reliable. Usually, everything’s fine, and there’s proper protection under the skyhooks. You shouldn’t be afraid on the wall.

We reached the top at 6:20 p.m. Tired and completely satisfied. We climbed in 11 hours and 50 minutes.

There are legendary walls and legendary routes; Hyperborea is one of them. It’s nice to touch a legend.

On the top

I must say that last year the route was repaired, old bolts were replaced at the stations and some at the pitches, which significantly improves the safety of the route. Thank you to Anton Umnov and his team for this great work!





* During one of the TV shows, the actress admitted that she knows only three obscene words in Russian.

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