Featured TR: From Russia With Pow – First Descents in Frolikha

Spread the love

The Camp

This place appeared to be uncommonly desolate. Remoteness, climate and approach difficulty result in very few tourists in summer and almost none of them in winter. It’s difficult to meet signs of human presence here, but, probably, thick layer of snow disguised unpleasant artifacts of human race. As for birds and animals – they are so fearless of human, that it seams they are ready to climb in your tent.

The end of March hardly looks like spring here. As soon as the Sun disappeared, we began putting something on our warmed up bodies. But we had an ace in the hole (in the backpack) to repulse the frost – tent with a stove, which we blandly nicknamed “caterpillary”, and it substituted home for us during the journey. Despite spring time, it’s a rare pleasure to warm yourself sitting in front of stove during dank weather, and we had to pay for it carrying extra weight. But it was worse that! Snow kitchen and an ice-hole in the lake for taking water completed simple layout. Not a penthouse, but it’s calm outside, with only gushes of mischievous wind buzz through the tent poles from time to time.

Getting up in the morning was especially difficult. Getting out of warm sleeping-bag to the freezed at night tent is not that pleasant. But the stove handles it all, and every morning sleeping near the stove ever-on-duty began his “dance with a tambourine” trying to kindle this engineering masterpiece. It was not fast but it provided incredible comfort.

The most important task for the expedition which I’d set while studying maps, photos and Google Earth at home was to climb the highest summit in the area – Tiktikanchi. As for descent – western circus was the only clearly visible slope – a set of couloirs, joined into one in their lower parts. If we rode them, the lines would be awesome – 1.5-kilometer couloir I’d ride for the first time in my life.

The first day we decided to ascend for to study the way up. According to Google Earth, one of possible variants for it in the lower part met the suggested ride line, so we weren’t in doubt for a long time and moved forward. The first 300 meters were the heaviest – we were skinning through thin forest with big amount of boulders, covered with wet snow. Huge pillows on them would provide interesting lines, but before we’d come there was signifacant thaw, snow became very wet, it didn’t provide support for a snowboard or skis and was unpleasantly breaking through.

Hour by hour we were climbing higher and higher, getting to wide snow-covered ravine. There were little of sunlight there because of high walls and the snow was becoming better and better.

Time was inexorably going by. Hadn’t reached the ridge we decided to drop after a short lunch. Almost 800 vertical meters were quite enough for the first day. We didn’t become less optimistic, understanding that having overcome a little bit more than halfway we still hadn’t earned rather good lines, yet it became clear that we’d have to work hard for a nice ride. After having tea with sweets we slid down. The upper part was pretty cool, the lower was kind of hell for the above reasons. But after a couple of hours of floundering we returned well.

Rest Day

After having a rest and dinner we decided to discuss our plan. The approach is clear, we’d seen the slope, now we needed to work out tactics. After calm and short conversation (may be that’s my merit or my authority helped) we approved following: wake up at 4 a.m., leaving the camp at 6 a.m., leaving the forest at 9 a.m., reaching the ridge at 12 a.m., reaching the summit at 2 p. m. Dropping at 3 p.m. Estimation was made taking into account extra time we might need. What if?.. And the main decision was to have a rest the day after!

Late wake up, no reason to hurry, walk in the ravine or by the lake and have fun! I won’t tell – just show.

1 2 3

About The Author

Since I could walk, sliding around on some form of frozen water has been my passion, starting with skiing and hockey, then switching to snowboarding in middle school and never looking back. After moving back to my home state of Vermont, I found that resort riding just wasn't cutting it for me. So I skipped buying a season pass, and bought a splitboard. That first tour was the same ah-ha moment I had when I first strapped on a snowboard in middle school. When not splitboarding, I work in digital media, mountain bike, play hockey and enjoy all of the amazing beers the Green Mountain State has to offer. Look for me to write about gear, trip reports, tips and tricks and other miscellanea such as climate change, often with an east coast bent.

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.