[Photo] Giulio Malfer

Alexander Ruchkin

Posted on: July 1, 2006


When I'm in the mountains, I feel like I'm home. Comfortable, cozy, they have been drawing me back ever since I first set foot in them. Just contemplating their agelessness gives me enormous pleasure. Their detachment from civilization imparts a purity and distinct charm. When I'm among them, I feel like the discoverer of a new and untraveled world, one not touched by human hands since the dawn of their origins. An ascent—life on the walls—is a special existence, akin to life on another planet, lived according to other rules.

When you manage to climb a mountain, you begin to believe even more in yourself and your strength. It doesn't matter which mountain, wall or route I'm climbing; it's the process that I like. Traveling and climbing with friends on new walls, encountering the world, returning home, then once again setting off: such experiences most people can only dream of.

—Translated from the Russian by Karen Freund

Alexander Ruchkin: curriculum vitae

1985: Golubev Route (Russian Grade 1B), Kezgen-Bashi (3950m), Caucasus, Russia, first climb.

1981-1989: Military service.

1986-1988: Studies climbing in the Varzob and Ala-Archa camps, Kyrgyzstan.

1989: Becomes an alpine guide. Lapshin Route (6A, 1100m), Zamin-Karor (4767m), Pamir-Alai mountains, Kyrgyzstan, first ascent (third place, USSR Army Championship, technical class), with Oleg Nikiforenko.

1990: Ala-Archa, Kyrgyzstan, various ascents.

1991: Bagaev Route (ED1: 5.9 A2 70 degrees, 900m), Free Korea Peak (4740m), Ala Archa, winter ascent with Dmitry Grekov, Alexander Agafonov and Nikiforenko (third place, USSR Championship, winter class).

1992: Semiletkin Route (6A A3, 900m), north face, Free Korea Peak, winter ascent, with Grekov, Valeriy Babanov and Pavel Shabalin (first place, Russian Championship, winter class). Illinski Route (6A A2, 2000m), southwest face, Russia Peak (6885m), Pamir-Alai, with Grekov, Babanov, Oleg Turaev and Igor Gricuk (first place, high-altitude class).

1993: Pogorelov Route (6A A2, 900m), Peak Slesova (4240m) and Popov Route (6A A3, 1700m), north face, Ak-Su Peak (5217m), Pamir-Alai, ascents, with Babanov (third place, technical class, for Popov Route). Son, Alexander, born.

1994: Shabalin Route (6A A3, 1700m), north face, Ak-Su Peak, ascent, with Andrey Antonov, Nikolay Medvedev and Shabalin (first place, technical class). Various ascents in the Pamir-Alai, including French Route (5A, 700m), Lambada (3850m), with Antonov, Shabalin and Voldemar Pianzin (winner, third place, rock class).

1995: Moshnikov Route (6B A1, 1700m) and Chaplinsky Route (6A A2, 1700m), north face, Ak-Su Peak, with Pianzin (first place, technical class).

1996: Ruchkin-Odintsov (6A A3+, 1700m), first ascent, north face, Ak-Su Peak, with Alexander Odintsov (first place, technical class). Linceul Route (TD+: 5.7 75-80 degrees, 1100m), north face, Grand Jorasses, Mont Blanc Massif, France, winter solo ascent.

1997: Russian Route (6A: VI 5.10 A3+, 1100m), Troll Wall (1778m), Norway, first ascent, with Yuri Koshelenko (first place, rock-climbing class). New route, north face, Free Korea Peak, with Andrey Puchinin (third place, winter class).

1998: No Siesta (ED+: 1200m), north face, Grandes Jorasses (4208m) (in thirty-six hours) and new variation (6A A2, 900m), Petit Dru (3733m), Mont Blanc Massif, with Rinat Zaitov (first place, technical class). Marries Elena Rodionova.

1999: Ruchkin Route (6A A3, 600m), north face, First Tower, Korona Peak (4860m), Ala Archa, first ascent, solo.

2000: Mobiles Route (5A A1, 700m), north face, Korona Peak, winter ascent, with Grekov and Puchinin. Daughter, Dasha, born.

2001: Barber Route (5A 80 degrees, 900m), north face, Free Korea Peak, solo winter ascent. Narodniy (VI A2, 900m), Free Korea Peak, solo first ascent.

2002: Rubicon (ED2: VI 5.11a A4, 1160m), Great Sail Peak (1617m), Baffin Island, Canada, first ascent, with Valery Rozov, Odintsov, Alexander Klenov and Mikhail Davy (first place, technical class).

2003: North face, Jannu (7710m), Himalaya, Nepal, attempt (to 7100m), with Odintsov, Misha Mikhailov, Alexey Bolotov, Nikolay Totmianin and Mikhail Devi.

2004: Russian Route (VII 5.10d M6 A3+, 3100m), north face, Jannu, first ascent, with Odintsov, Totmianin, Sergey Borisov, Gennady Kirievsky, Bolotov, Mikhail Pershin, Dmitry Pavlenko, Mikhailov, Ivan Samoylenko and Mikhail Bakin (winner, 2005 Piolet d'Or).

2005: Shevchenko Route (5B, 900m), Messes-Tau Peak (4427m), Bezengi, Caucasus, ascent, with Odintsov and Leonid Primak.

To read the full text of this article, DOWNLOAD the digital issue in our app or BUY THE BACK ISSUE in our online store. Or even better, SUBSCRIBE to join our community and get this "coffee-table book masquerading as a magazine" (Lynn Hill) four times per year.