It is year 2013, February. I am at the university with my mates procrastinating/researching for inspiration. We are doing motion graphics course, thus it is computer screen intense.
As I scroll and I stumble upon another click bait ’10 Most Interesting Rock Formations’ it got my attention – that is their purpose.
Second down the list was Manpupuner rock formations. 7 towers on the top of the mountain like fingers of a beast hiding under the mountain sticking through the green carpet of Ural mountains’ fauna.
That is it, the I got fixated on the idea of going there one day. Then lots of questions came to my mind. Where exactly was it? How to get there? Visas? How long would it take us? Bears? Hungry tribal people? Yetis? Is it even possible to climb them?
The dream kept on bubbling in my head.
Meanwhile I climbed all over Europe, but at the back of my mind the ultimate adventure was to go to Ural to see the Mythical Giants and climb them.
Fast forward to 2015 summer.
I met Robbie Phillips in Chamonix just after he had a mega adventure climbing ‘Belavista’ in Dolomites,Italy and ‘Paciencia’ on the North face of the Eiger, Switzerland. I suggested the trip to Russia, but it still remained just a dream.
2016 Spring was the turning point. Then I was sitting with one of my best friends Rokas and over a cup of tea we were sharing ideas. “If not now, then when?”- we thought.
The dream was still far away from becoming the reality, but the first step, the hardest, was done. We set the approximate date – 2017 August.
Why did we chose August?
The driest and and most likely time of the summer to get a big enough window for hiking, camping and climbing. Being near polar circle the Manpupuner plateau does not heat up to much at that time of the year. Highs of 19C lows of 8C – sounds like good conditions to climb.
To make dream come true one needs ambition and courage to do things one has never done before.
I had to pick a team. I knew that I can count on Rokas,
then I suggested the idea to Arunas Kamandulis and he was interested in the whole adventure.
Sweet! We have got 3/4 of the team, but that is not ideal. I called my friend Arturas – a boulderer who might be interested to stir up his climbing and put a harness on and place some trad gear whilst being where phones have no signal, where the only transportation to civilisation is the helicopter or a boat down the river. After a sudden change of heart we were one member short and I knew that Matthias is more than keen to join, but how will he feel in a company of 3 Lithuanians? Apparently, he is pretty cool with that, since he climbed with us before and occasional Lithuanian sentence did not bother him the slightest.
The team is confirmed! Now we needed to get as much information about the logistical side of the trip.
How many of us speak Russian?
Only one and not fluently either. Google translator was an amazing tool which allowed easier communication. Cyrillic is tougher than you can imagine especially after not using it for over 8 years. Those skills had to be dusted and sharpened.
We are going far away from the western world and anything and everything is possible in the deepest part of Russia.
What equipment are we taking?
We will be far away from food markets and restaurants, thus we need to carry everything we will eat on our shoulders. The lighter the better. The only choice was dehydrated expedition meals.
The guys at the Reach Climbing Wall were more that kind by giving us 60 meals of Trek’n’Eat meals and Kadadyn water filtration system to make sure we do not get ill by drinking from a stream straight away.
Driving to Lithuania then flying to Perm via Moscow to get a 5h bus ride and then a helicopter ride to drop us off from where we will need to hike for half a day we need some easy accessible food.
London based company Ollybars gave us 100 bars to keep us fuelled without spending time to cook. Low sugar, high fibre bars are an amazing treat after training, but being outdoors they will be more of a treat for sure.
Climbing/camping gear shop Montis Magia in Lithuania supports us with Petz helmets, because who knows how loose that rock might be. Head injuries are serious and having no emergency services to rely on we have to make sure that we eliminate unneeded risks.
Our Petz harnesses came from the same shop, with a set of cooking stove and pots. Even though August is the time to admire ‘meteor rain’ we won’t be sleeping under the stars. Blood sucking insects will stay outside our tents. To pack our gear we received 65L Osprey packs.
To tie ourselves for scaling and descending the Mythical Giants we will be using Tendon ropes. A pair of Master 7.8 and a bit more robust for filming and photographs – Lowe 8.4 water and dust treated, which will make it easier incase we get some rain.
12 days is not a long time, but couple of sets of clothing are good to have. ABK made sure that we stay comfortable and bright so we could be spotted if we need a rescue! Stretchy trousers, T-shirts and hoodies. 12 days in the duration of the whole trip, but we will only have a week on the plateau of which we will probably have a maximum of 5 days of climbing. For this task one pair of climbing shoes each will do the job. Let’s hope we will not lose them on the way… The guys at EB would not be impressed…
Keep dreaming, but don’t forget to act, because if not now then when?
Big thank you to the brands below for believing in us and helping us reach our goals!