News Link: Hard-core winter climbing thrives in Russia, and a quartet of climbers has proved it again with the first winter ascent of the north ridge of Mizhirgi East in the Caucasus Mountains. Though little-known in the West, 16,165-foot Mizhirgi East is a satellite of Europe’s second-highest mountain, 17,073-foot Dychtau, which has a steep, serac-laden, 6,500-foot north face. The north ridge on the far left side of the Mizhirgi-Dychtau wall, firstclimbed in 1952, had never been attempted in winter.
Sasha Gukov, Alik Izotov, Sergey Kondrashkin, and Viktor Koval left base camp on January 2 and crossed the bergschrund the following day. In very stormy weather, they climbed the north buttress over five days. They reached the summit of Mizhirgi East on January 8 and traversed to the higher western peak, before descending to the south and traversing around the mountain over the next two days.
High wind and spindrift, temperatures to –20°F, sitting bivouacs, two lost packs, and a climber buried by an avalanche during the descent (but saved)—this climb offered the full mix of winter challenges. Read about it and see more photos at Mountain.ru.
Date of Ascent: January 2009