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 Viacheslav Skripko has summited Mt Everest!

Viacheslav Skripko, a Russian native living in Moscow (Russia), has summited Mt. Everest on May 27th at 10:30AM (China time) after  five years of arduous and struggling endeavors. It was four years of hard effort (since 1999), but this year after an epic, almost tragic, incident he did reach the most wanted summit without any problem on a beautiful, climbable day. Skripko was part of the International Everest Expedition run by Asian Trekking of Nepal. He shared the permit with Mariana, the Bulgarian climber who unfortunately died this year on her own try for the summit. Also part of the expedition were Helena and Paulo (Brazilian nationality) and Volodia Zadokin. Skripko was the only one in his group who reached the summit. What is most important to Skripko's climb is his journey; he spent two nights at C1 while going for the summit push, five nights at C2 and two nights at C3.

Slava, the name he is known as throughout the years by climbers and friends, spent so many nights above ABC not because of some "Skripko's syndrome" but because the weather was so cruel and prohibited him going up. It is also important to mention that he spent those nights without any supplementary Oxygen. Slava had asked me to leave my tent in C3 for him and I did, along with two mattresses and four gas cartridges. Also in the tent were three bottles of Oxygen belonging to Slava. When he reached the last camp he found no tent or Oxygen. He would like to tell his story to the climbing community in order to perhaps prevent such happenings in the future. Another reason is that also perhaps someone might have seen somebody taking the tent down; he is offering a reward for information leading to finding the culprit. He believes this was a criminal act that put his life in danger and severely jeopardized his chances for a try at the summit. Luck was on his side by his arriving early at high camp and enabling him to carry on a negotiation with some sherpa who had Oxygen for sale. The sherpa didn't trust he would make good on his payment and asked him to sign a paper stating his intentions toward the payment. Well, at that altitude, paper was nowhere to be found and he wrote the contract on a piece of mattress. The Oxygen was purchased and Slava started for the summit at 1:00 AM (Nepali time). The night was clear with no wind. It was well bellow zero but a climbable night nevertheless. He made good progress, arriving at the NE ridge in only two hours. When he reached the first step, the light of the day made his ascent easier. He reached the second step at 5 AM, the climb at second step was facilitated by the newly installed ladder by Himalayan Experience. A short hike and Slava was atop third step. The rest of the climb continued without any incident. With clouds below and sun above, Slava finally reached his goal, but as we all know the summit climb is almost half of the journey. He must descend and this is usually harder since climbers are more tired and some do let their guard down, perhaps thinking on the achievement just accomplished. Slava's descent was also without any problem, however when he descended the first step, clouds rolled in and snow started to fall. The visibility was nil but he gingerly made his retreat to the last camp at 1:00 PM (Nepali time). He decided to remain at the last camp since again the weather wasn't as generous with him as it was with others. His descent to ABC took place on May 28th.

Slava, who is the first Russian climber to reach Mt. Cho Oyu [?], will be back in Kathmandu for the golden jubilee in the fall. Slava's career stretches over many years. He was part of the old Soviet school of alpinism, a good friend of Anatoli Boukreev who lost his life on Annapurna in 1997, and of Sergei Arsentiev who died on Everest in 1998 along with his wife Fran. Another good friend of Slava, Terzyul, just disappeared in Makalu a few days ago with Jay Sieger. More friends include Vladimir Bashkirov who lost his life on Lhotse, Vladimir Baliberdin, who died in 1994 in a car accident in St. Petersburg, Russia and many other good Russian climbers who lost their lives in search of new, hard routes in Himalaya and other parts of the world.

Slava talks with patience about the old school, which was perhaps better financed with a totally different style of climbing. He explains that in the old days, you would have to prove yourself on the 4000m peaks, the 5000m and so on until you reached into the death zone of 8000m mountains. With some luck or some connection, or both, you would have a chance to be selected for a Himalaya expedition. It was in 1991 that he got his chance at an eight 1000'er, Cho Oyo, and he did topple it on September 29th, only 12 days after establishing BC, and this was done on the Nepali side of the mountain. He was not a very young climber then but worked his way up to the fifth tallest mountain in the world. He climbed on Makalu, Shishapangma's south face, Manaslu, and as mentioned above, four times on Everest. Needless to say, he climbed all mountains over 7000m in the defunct Soviet Union. Slava is a known face on the north side of Everest, his tall figure and his pony tail hairstyle make him stand out, a friendly guy always coming for it. This year it worked the magic.

He says he returns home a happy man. Who cannot be happy with such an accomplishment? Slava's mountain scars are visible for the rest of his life. He paid a heavy price in 1991 for his Cho Oyu ascent, losing his toes, all of them, a vivid reminder and testimony that no mountain, regardless of its altitude, should be taken for granted. He spent many months in rehabilitation and depression. Those who have been on this path know very well the agony. But Slava returned again and again to his love for the mountains, perhaps not knowing any better pleasure. The old school of Soviet alpinism kept Slava among ourselves; the best climbers are the ones who come back home. And what's left for him now? Perhaps much more than some will expect. He has already some bold plans for next year, and those plans are in high mountains, perhaps Everest again.

He would like to use this opportunity to thank his sponsor: URENGOI GASPROM who put their trust in him. He feels privileged not to have let them down; Asian Trekking (P) LTD of Nepal for the service they provided over the years; but most importantly he would like to thank his family for their understanding over the many years. He said he feels regret for putting them through such difficult feelings, and he would like to thank his two children and friends for their support. He would also like to use this opportunity to congratulate Russian climbers on the North face of Everest, central wall and the Russian expedition on the North face of Jannu, perhaps two of the hardest climbs this year and hardest climbs over all. He still believes Russian climbers are little known in the West and hopes this will not stand in the future. He said there is little understanding of the Russian style of high altitude climbing and hopes people will look more carefully into it. It sure produces incredible achievements every year and there are things to be learned. Wishing you all best.

Regards, Slava Skripko with George Dijmarescu

Kathmandu, Nepal

PS Slava asked me to assist him with English writing



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