Tears and selfies: mount Sokol conquered again
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Tears and selfies: mount Sokol conquered again

October 05, 2020

The pandemic has not become an obstacle to traditional climbing.

More than a hundred Norilsk residents have conquered the top of mount Sokol and thus celebrated the World Tourism Day. Basically, those were teachers and pupils of the station for children’s and youth tourism and excursions, which were also joined by ordinary citizens.

In past years, more than 500 people climbed Sokol, both young and old went. But due to the difficult epidemiological situation, the event was not advertised – for the first time in the history of the tradition.

Nevertheless, the ascent took place, and its participants experienced a lot of emotions and were lucky with the weather. It rained at night, but by noon the path was dry.

In the tourist camp near the Listvyanka river, the tourists gathered in small groups and began moving towards the mountain. From there to the Sokol’s foot it is a little more than four kilometers. You have to walk along a rocky road, and this is a kind of warming-up before the ascent.

Gradually, the road becomes uplifting, you begin to feel your muscles and the weight of your backpack. At this moment the beginners understand the importance of comfortable shoes. Sneakers, of course, are not a bad option for the mountains, but their main drawback begins to be felt on the way back, while descending, when the legs are in danger of turning up. Therefore, according to experienced tourists, comfortable shoes not only do not slip, but also cover and fix the ankle. Ideally, these are special trekking boots.

Anatoly Pavelyev, head of the ascent and teacher of the station for children and youth tourism and excursions, said that this tourist route is considered simple for experienced travelers. And for beginners it serves as testing themselves, their endurance and will.

This time, 14-year-old pupils of the tourist school entered the route, although there were younger guys with their teachers and mentors, and townspeople also decided to try their hand. For young climbers, the ability to walk in a roped team is an important skill that will be especially valuable on more difficult routes.

So far, the roped team is symbolic – boys and girls held the rope in their hands throughout the entire ascent. But even with it you need to be able to manage and not get confused. It disciplined the children, did not allow them to rush or lag behind, taught them to feel the shoulder of a fellow and to be a team on especially difficult parts of the mountain.

Opportunities are different for everyone, but the event was named Everyone has his own Everest for a reason. Instructors say that this is, first of all, a test for a beginning tourist, his mental and physical strength. When you climb in a group, you see the whole range of emotions on the faces of your fellow climbers. Someone has tears in his eyes, but they pretend it is because of the wind. Someone puffs like a steam locomotive and barely audibly fires himself up for climbing into an unknown direction. This is how adults most often behave. Schoolchildren walk merrily, with jokes, and some, while the instructor does not see them, manage to take a selfie as a souvenir. In any case, no one remains indifferent on this route.

The main peak of Sokol is 767 meters high. The distance back and forth (from the starting point to the foot of the mountain) is about 25 kilometers, and that’s not counting the ascent up the slope of Sokol. The ascent takes about five hours. You do not walk along a flat path, but along taluses, consisting of large or small stones, which now and then strive to escape from under your feet and fall down onto the people below. You should control every step, and in the middle of the climb, you begin to feel the thinness of the air at altitude. There is not enough oxygen, some people feel dizzy. But the views that open before your eyes are worth all the torment and suffering. At the top, you feel omnipotent. You did it! You are hero!

Everyone who has reached the top is presented with certificates of a Sokol winner with the slogan ‘Everyone has his own Everest’ and a badge. But, having conquered the mountain, it is too early to relax. It is necessary to go back down, and that’s another story. The route is almost the same, but there are places on the slope that climbers call elevators. You take a step – and the stones begin floating under your feet, and you are floating with them, experiencing sensations as when descending on an elevator.

There were daredevils who tried to overcome the ‘elevators’, sitting on their bottom. Not a very good idea, provoking injuries. It is better to go down sideways, carefully rearranging your legs, calmly and without fuss. When the feet step on solid ground, we can assume that the ascent to Sokol is over, and try not to think about the fact that we have to overcome 12 kilometers of the way back to the finish point where it will be possible to call a taxi.

Children are welcomed at the station for children’s and youth tourism and excursions all year round. You can find out more about the institution and the teachers on the station’s website.

Text: Alexander Grigoriev, Photo: Alexander Grigoriev

October 05, 2020

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