Chaplinsky Igor, Master of Sport, Kiev.

A long time ago, I am even afraid to say how long, my attitude to Odessa mountaineering had been formed by Samodid (a famous unofficial Soviet solo climber) who said that in Odessa there are no real mountaineers but only vanity. Of course, it was not true. For a long time I knew M. Sitnik and V. Mogyla. After the Odessians climbed Mt. Kanchenjunga in 1993, they said that on their expedition participated such a Terzik, very strong guy, tourist, just like a bull. I don’t know why he was apprehended to be a tourist (alpine tourism is close to mountaineering sport, it is supposed to pass a route over a number of cols of certain difficulty). Maybe because in his youth he traveled through the taiga alone, without food, without anything, for two weeks. I had met Slava earlier, at the beginning of the nineties. My first memory of him is connected with the Caucasus. We ascended along the gorge from Mt. Djantugan to Mt. Free Spain and met Slava on a bivouac. He worked with young climbers from Odessa as an instructor. I liked him at once – it was obvious he was a strong and absolutely independent person. He treated his young colleagues like equals and did not pay attention to trifles – who laces up boots how and who bravely approaches the route. Because we all remember how we trained in alpine camps during the Soviet period: all of us had to come out at the same time and go back to the camp accordingly. It is inherent in sick people, but a strong personality understands that there is no sense in discipline. People come to the mountains to get pleasure, not to step in line. Slava realized that… it impressed me that he didn’t pay attention to the bustle.

Later in 1996 I was invited on the Mt. Annapurna expedition. It was preceded with races on Mt. Elbrus, and I met Slava there again. At that time he had already climbed three eight thousand meter peaks. Slava tried a lot and I noted that he wanted prevail over me in particular, and he did… In the mountains there were no obstacles to me. I had always believed that the team is myself. I needed only the gear to be delivered and I would do everything necessary. And just after that training camp on Mt. Elbrus when we happened to work together as a team, I realized that Slava was a mountaineer of extra-class.


S.Kovalev, I.Chaplinsky, V.Terzyul on th summit of Elbrus, 1996..

He was not accepted on the expedition, and as far as I know it was the Odessians who denied him. So he climbed Mt. Annapurna with the Polish team and did his best, primarily due to him they succeeded. He stepped on the summit on the same day as Bershov and Svergun (members of the Ukrainian expedition). And he was so happy for that – “It’s such a pity that we didn’t meet each other.” I said “I was not on the top “– “Ah… It doesn’t matter”.

I climbed only one eight thousand meter peak with Slava – Mt. Manaslu (2001). At that time he was already a recognized leader of high altitude mountaineering. And I guess he probably initiated the formation of our group: it consisted of him, Nikolay Goryunov, Yuriy Strelnikov and me. And it was an absolutely perfect group, we didn’t avoid work, did everything in our power, crawled into the cave or tent, sliced salo, drank a little bit of brandy like Slava… But first of all mountaineering is work, hard, exhausting work. And Slava was an example there. He used to be working all the time, he was unbending. To be sitting idle, to seek for a nap – it never happened to him. It is worth while mentioning that the majority of intermediate camps and caves had been set up by our group.

Sometimes he was violent; it was my impression that sometimes he was crazy. For example: we began climbing, our first ascent, we were working: me, Slava and Nikolay, Yura Strelnikov. We were moving along a couloir, for a long time we fixed ropes and then arrivedd uphill onto a small ridge. It was twilight, we didn’t have any warm stuff with us and Slava, without any reason, said let’s stay here for overnight. I replied, Slava, relax, why should we freeze here. I didn’t understand that. He wanted to do it, that’s all, and they stayed there but Yuriy and I went down. He had his own vision – he was an absolutely independent person.

But I was the most impressed at another place – we along with him were traversing around the Pinnacle to its left. The elevation was more than 7500m, typical high altitude relief, on the Caucasus it would never be seen. Frost, snow and everything fallen from above created perfidious gutters… and the inclination was about 60 degrees. Should one fall – that’s the end. For two days we worked on rocks of 45 degrees covered with snow one meter deep. Nikolay worked all day, then I did, the altitude was already 7600m or more, we set a tent for overnight. Next morning we got up and Slava shouted like crazy: let’s go to the mountain! But we had no ropes – they were already fixed. There remained only one rope for the three of us. I told Slava that I wouldn’t go upward without ropes, sometimes when potentially in danger I began think about my children, about my plants at home which would be unwatered… And also Nikolay said that his heart was giving him pains, because we had been at high altitude for a long time and… we left all these ropes and went down to the intermediate camp. At the same time the group of Kovalev, Pugachov, Leontiev were coming there. And Slava, you know, said: I will go with them around to the normal route! He impressed me at that moment when he said that. He is a person of incredible spiritual power, absolutely incredible! I did not go because I had realized this was an utmost attempt, there was a potentially dangerous and too long traverse, high altitude, lots of snow, the chance for avalanche was very high, God forbid, bad weather, snowing – and you would stay there for a long time, forever… I doubted whether it was possible to pass this way in two days, but they did… And I realized that there is purpose in him, there is a Mountain and he will be going and never stop. Moreover I can say that he is stronger than me, though I always considered myself to be a strong-willed person who is able to overcome circumstances. Slava could overcome them much more rashly. However all people have approximately the same physical facility, a deviation could be only maybe 10%. Further is a will, how one can overcome himself. The body switches over to a different nutrition. And I am also convinced that a Mount does not need to be conquered: you can join in its nature, be a single whole with it, disperse over it and understand why the Mountain conducts itself so. You can look attentively at the sky, see the clouds and conceive what they are bringing and perceive how the slope is playing, sounding, whether there will be avalanche or not… I felt that. It is a sense of extreme mountaineering, and not only there - the same is true in the taiga and in a desert. Slava felt that as well and at that time I understood that he perceived it better and could do it more successfully. And he did it! But the guys who met them said that he was unwell, he went down with difficulty, passed 20 meters, stopped, fell, rested and moved again, but he had achieved his goal. A man of tremendous will!

Strictly speaking I would never call mountaineering a sport - it is absolutely different, this is some philosophy of adrenaline consumption – to whom and how much it is necessary. For some it is enough to stand on a precipice and he is done, charged. Some need to pass under an avalanche, dive to depths… Therefore as to mountaineering I am an opponent of various competitions, because at high altitude when it is extremely difficult, it is much easier to die than overpower yourself with all the miseries. Awards and priviledges recede and you remain face to face with Eternity and only your God could send you an award, a beam of sun to warm you or to cover the sky with clouds in order to prevent avalanches. I even said to Slava and I am not ashamed of that: “There is no one equal to you”. He was a high altitude mountaineer blessed by God. He had everything – absolutely tremendous will and physical functional facilities. Therefore he could do things which are beyond the strength of the others: to die but go – this is the most important.

I am 100% convinced that all mountaineers of the highest qualification are those people who need to get a certain portion of adrenaline. They just cannot do without, cannot stop climbing. In my opinion a wealthy child from a rich family could never become a strong sportsman, there is no motivation. As a rule there are people lacking in something in childhood who feel the necessity to realize themselves. Some should draw or paint, some are geniuses, some glorify their land.
And Slava came to the mountains and high altitude mountaineering because he needed to realize himself. There was a necessity to grow in those emotions, to increase them in qualitative and qualitative dimensions. And suddenly you understand that you have become a professional in a small enough circle of people who can appreciate you and say: “Terzyul – this is remarkable”. Very few people could say so, how many – 10? 100? A human is a sociable creature so recognition is important. He obtained it as much as a society is able to apprehend their Heroes.
Slava went to the summit of Makalu being aware of a possible night descent or cold overnight, deliberately. While descending something unpredictable happened. He passed away young, handsome and smiling. Passed away by himself, not loading anyone with his problems and fuss. And sometimes I do believe I will hear from the phone receiver: “Chapa, Hi! It is time to go to the mountains.” Do I go?