While in Russia, we’re supporting Women’s World Banking, which helps low income women access financial services, including small business microloans so they can independently support their families. Due to NGO restrictions, Women’s World Banking is not currently active in Russia, however they are the only global network that focuses on women. Women’s World Banking has served over 19 million clients, and 73% of those are women who now benefit from insurance, savings, and small business loans. Help me raise $10,000 for Women’s World Banking on my Crowdrise page. Donate $27 or more and you’ll be entered into a monthly raffle to win a Marmot tent!
Deep in the forests of Russia, near the Finnish border, sits Triangular Lake. Walking through the thick rows of trees on soft mossy carpet, there are no rocks in sight. But step just a few meters off the path, and suddenly piles of beautiful granite boulders break up shades of green. Their invisibility in the dark forest only adds to the magic of the place. Dragonflies and giant bees swoop past at eye level, and it doesn’t seem unlikely that a troll or unicorn could wander over a grassy knoll.
[Jon Glassberg (LT11) photo]
[JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
For the past two weeks, Jon and I have passed the days climbing on these hidden boulders with many new friends. Although we expected Triangular Lake to be primarily a bouldering destination, it turns out there are quite a few sport climbs as well. The boulders are huge, so high ball boulderers and low ball sport climbers alike will find something of interest.
[Jon on the first ascent of Oh, brotaan, V10/7C+]
[Helicopter, V9/7C. JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
[Oleg on Night Flight, V10/7C+. JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
When we first arrived, the difference in climbing ethics startled us a bit. Giant tick marks, the use of a blow torch to dry holds, and chipping are all accepted practices. Coming from a part of the world where, not only are these practices looked down upon, but NGO’s make videos warning against them, we didn’t really know what to say. But after learning about the history of climbing here, we realized that in such an isolated area, climbers have adopted the methods that work best for them. Non climbers aren’t bothered by these things, so for this area it works and it’s not my place to say it is right or wrong – just an observation in differences.
[Isa-man, V9/7C. Jon Glassberg (LT11) photo]
[Arrow marks the spot. Jon Glassberg (LT11) photo]
The climbers here have been incredibly kind and excited to share their area. Most everyone we’ve talked to suspects that Jon and I may be the first foreigners to travel to Triangular Lake, save perhaps a few stragglers from Finland. The reasons are obvious – visa applications are challenging, available information is minimal, and this relatively isolated area requires visitors to obtain a permit to travel so close to the border. Yet while the logistics seem challenging, the local climbers have made it so easy for us to be here. They organized our stay at the farmhouse, obtained and personally delivered our permits, drove with us out to the lake, and guide us around to new problems and routes each day. Thank you to all our new friends who have helped us travel, speak, and remold our vision about Russia!
JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
[JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
[Our Farmhouse Family out for a day of spectating at the crag. JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
In short, if you want to visit Russia and you’d like to climb, you can make it happen. It’s gorgeous here. The rock is somewhat like that of Rocky Mountain National Park. Despite some chipped holds, the problems are incredibly fun and I’ve found a sport project I’m completely hooked on. For climbers of the V9-V11 (7C-8A) level, this is a playground – I’ve never seen such density of this specific of a grade range. If you’re not convinced that Triangular Lake is worth a visit, hopefully the photos will speak for themselves. I’ve put names and grades in where I can, but many of the problems are in Russian and/or were newly opened so names are unknown.
[Yuriy Shamardin on Russian Roulette, 7C. JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
[Jon Glassberg on the first ascent of Oh, Brotaan, 7C+]
[Emile on Parquet, V5/7A. Jon Glassberg (LT11) photo]
[golden Rain, 7B/V7, JON GLASSBERG (LT11) PHOTO]
[Natalia Sending Vnov’ prodolzhaetsja boj, V7/7B]