Cho-Oyu 8201 m
09.10.2000, by the classical route, West face, solo, alpine style accent in two days, skied down from the summit.
"The season was over and I went alone in alpine style. In two days I reached the summit. From there I skied down. Certainly on that descent I felt absolute loneliness among those endless snow ranges. Later, I learned that numbers of binoculars were watching me from Base Camp, those eyes following each and every turn Stayed in the Polish camp with my old friends, I failed to find partners either in BC or higher. I started out from C2 about 1:00 am; in the early morning passed by empty C3, and at noon was on the summit, - cold, windy, close by is Everest

Solo accent.

Vladislav Terzyul:

The alarm on my altimeter rang at 24:00. The first idea that came to mind was to wonder whether I had slept or not? In the mountains at high altitude, there is no certainty in sleeping. The last thing I remembered was the scene of hay being mowed: the burning summer sun, the ringing clank of steel, of the mower moving over grass wet with dew vzhik vzhik and I was in valenki (felt boots). I did not know why. Oh yes in order to fall asleep I had persistently imagined the monotonic motion of the mower, and at the same time I was in down overalls and had an ice-axe in my hands. Gradually I succeeded in getting rid of the overalls and ice-axe but I failed to take off the valenki. That is the nature of sleep during a high altitude climb. In order to fall asleep up high, it is necessary to fantasize, to visualize a dream, then to hold it in mind until you drift off to sleep.
- Oh, this is a real art to master.

So, now I am in the tent at Camp 2 at the height of 7000m on the slope of Cho-Oyu. Yesterday while leaving BC I agreed with my Polish friends that I would overnight in their tent. But in the evening, having descended from the upper camp, Pan Kovalevsky and Serbian Miloshevich barged into the tent where I was resting comfortably. They had made several attempts to summit but failed each time... so there was no sense in talking with them, tired and angry as they were, about friendship and love between Slavic peoples. I did not waste time and moved into another tent, that of my Czech friends.

Their tent was filled with food and gear, but I had no energy or time to put the place in order. Hurriedly, I melted snow on a gas stove, and cooked kissel of currants for now and two liters of compote for the next day. I poured it into plastic flasks and put them into the bottom of my sleeping bag. To relax better and improve my sleeping, I drank a cup of compote with 30g of Armenian brandy and began a hay-mowing. I remember that I mowed for a long time, my shoulders aching. My heels were burned by the hot flasks, and also I remember that my nose froze permanently. So thats indeed an alarm

I turned on my head-lamp, I knew that I should eat something but that was also a problem. My taste perception was absolutely dead, everything disgusted me. Chocolate? Did not even try it, but salo (pork fat) with dried brown bread worked, despite the fact that theoretically at high altitude fats are not digestible. With the salo and bread I drank warm sour compote. I pulled on fresh socks and plastic boots. In an hour I was ready and moved on to the route - this was a record, usually it takes 2-3 hours.

I came to the tents of an American expedition. In the evening I proposed to them that they join me on my bid for the summit, but they said that according to their strategy they needed to make one more ascent to Camp 3 at 7600m. Hopelessly, I tramped around their tents, exhaled a sigh and went up along the route toward the summit. In the feeble illumination of my headlamp, I identified the track. Firmly I stepped ahead, metallic crampons underfoot scratching the snow and ice. Above my head the stars were as big as a fist and frozen gusts of wind blew into my face. The rarefied air forced my lungs to work wide open and rhythmically. I doubled my hands into fists several times. This practice increased my self-reliance at once; at that moment I was much stronger and three meters tall. On my shoulders was a light backpack with a liter of hot drink, socks and gloves, camera, first-aid kit and skis. Yes, skis exactly

After 25 years of mountain climbing it would have been boring just to climb to the summit of Cho-Oyu (8201m). Therefore I introduced a special adventure into my efforts: to climb an eight-thousander in two days and ski down.

Certainly, I was prepared. I am an instructor on alpine skis. Several seasons I worked in the Caucasus, and I have skied down from Elbrus and Peak Lenina. A week before I had been on the top of eight-thousander Shishapangma and skied down from the summit camp (7400m). But I was not alone there My thoughts were interrupted by my suddenly extinct flashlight. Abrupt darkness cut me down to size: once again I am 1.78 meters tall, or even smaller. I tried to drive the ice-axe into the slope, but the icy surface prevented that. I took a dozen diffident steps, driving the ice-axe into the snow between my legs, anchoring myself safely. I knelt and tried to do something with the head lamp. Without gloves my hands were at once bitten with frost. Several minutes of useless activity in the darkness passed. What to do? It was around two-three hours until sunrise. To move downward or upward was dangerous; if I stood, in an hour I would turn into an ice statue. I came to a decision that to go upward was less dangerous than trying to avoid cracks in the glacier below me. Moving very cautiously, the stars tarnished in the haze - there was no hope. Suddenly the beam of the headlamp flashed for a moment and then died again. I realized that one of the wires was disconnected.

Again I drove my axe into the snow, found the point of damage while freezing my hands, cut and cleaned the wire with my teeth, then twisted the copper ends together - the flashlight worked again. But my hands were frostbitten. Again, I started moving, trying to warm myself, but I had no energy. Suddenly I found myself gasping, I lost self-control and fell deeply into oxygen starvation. I concentrated all my internal efforts and slowly came out of this critical condition. I was like a fish without water. And I felt that my feet were already frostbitten. I estimated that I could still recreate a normal balance in my body. Slowly and rhythmically, I continued upward. In an hour it proved to be true. At last came the dawn and I saw the tents of the camp at 7500m. I barged into a tent - it was empty, only gas canisters and stoves inside. I lit three stoves together and in a moment it got warm. I took off my boots and massaged my blue toes. In half an hour I was moving again. I climbed the 30m rocky wall that was equipped with fixed ropes (while skiing down I would turn to the north about three km and go around it). Next I saw a snow dome, intersected several times by one meter high rocky belts, I thought on my way down it would be possible to jump over them as well as turn around from the north. Everything was OK, I was concentrated and strong. I felt my face and ears burning, took off my hood, and 40 frost centigrade refreshed my face while the lobes of my ears sharply prickled. My hands and body were warm, but I was aware that I had lost sensitivity in my feet. I tried to push my resinous blood down into my legs, it is difficult, but my heart was working strongly and rhythmically. I held myself as if inside a shell. I went to the side of snow peak to my left. No tracks were revealed, only hard snowy waveforms stretching away in the distance. Having climbed the snowy peak I understood that the real summit was much farther away, somewhere on the huge snow dome. It was getting more difficult to go, I stopped every five minutes to recover breath; this process was endless. But at 1 pm Everest appeared in my view on the horizon, and I saw Nepalese prayer flags. Yes! Thats the summit at 8201m. While my body was hot it was necessary to eat something and take a photo.


Vladislav Terzyul on the summit of Cho-Oyu.

A few attempts to force chocolate into my stomach failed; I could drink some compote only. I set my camera on automatic and tried to insert myself with tags of sponsors and friends into the frame (some of the photos are good). The mandatory details completed, I was free to take a look around. Of course, it was a very nice picture: the wide open upland plateau of Tibet spreading away for hundreds of kilometers. All the mountains to the south were covered with clouds. I stood on a tremendous snowy plateau flowing into a dense white field. Above that field rose the summit of Everest. It seemed an easy hour of skiing across the clouds to reach the highest peak. Above me was the dark blue space of the sky and the sun. The bright sun had very distinct edges but it was absolutely cold. I wanted to shout. But a shout would have been vague or indistinct in all that space. Finally, after a prayer for my loved ones and close friends, I put on my skis and started down. The slope was still gentle but tough snowy waves slowed the pace of descent. I tried to move on the plain snowy slabs on the south side of the plateau. I did it! I felt the pleasure of resolution, and got ready to jump the two rocky belts of one meter height. Id never paid attention to an obstacle of this size down below but there I was at the height of 8000m. A wonderful jump landed in the waves of hard snow and broke the rhythm. I jumped the second belt and desperately tried to maintain my balance by pressing the skis dynamically into the unevenness of the snow. I slowed but the effort was causing a vagueness in my consciousness. I stopped. My eyes could not see, consciousness was softly sinking into a fog. I was trapped in a state of oxygen deprivation. Slowly I caught the scraps of consciousness and came back to the material world. Good skiing, but for ten minutes I had to recover thinking and the ability to breathe. I felt a hopeless sickness in my legs. I felt my hearts pulsation in my temples but my hands and legs grew numb. I did a few wide moves in order to increase the blood flow and eliminate constraint to my extremities. I doubled my hands into fists strongly, arched my back, stretched out my neck, and was ready to move. But for how long? This was not a show to impress girls on the beach, there was only one onlooker - myself. I decided on no further experiments and passed to the north face where there was no rock belt; this is several kilometers further. It was not bad going. I skied down one hundred meters, then after a long level traverse, relaxed a little and again turned downward. Ahead of me was the rocky belt again, I felt strong and decided to jump. After several meters flight, I landed, struggling for balance, and fell. I tumbled down the slope, the skis got unbound and randomly beat my body. I tried to take the ice axe from my harness, but this is an easy maneuver only while training. Occasionally I got stuck in the snow. Again I was oxygen-starved, again it was difficult to return to reality. I saw two ski traces far away to the north (a week before two Czechs skied down from the summit). It made me optimistic, but as before
I felt loneliness and despair - I was alone in that endless silence, should I crash and fail no one would have known the circumstances. (I was not aware that numbers of binoculars were watching me and everyone in Base Camp was worried about me). Then more cautiously, keeping closer to the tracks on the slope, without experiments, I continued skiing to C2. The last two hundred meters I began a dashing, spectacular ski slalom. I saw the Americans watching me with enthusiasm. They asked

- Did you summit?
- Yes I did.
- How long did it take you to ski down?
- 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Strong man!

Again I arched my back and become three meters tall. The next day I
made my way down to BC with the memory of these joys and disasters. And
it was then I had the perception that I had done something.
After me no one reached the summit. I closed the season

(February, 2004 )


V.Terzyul is skiing.