Our captors piled pine boughs and branches on us, so many that we could barely see, then wedged in with us to make sure we didn't move or talk. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. At midnight on August 18, the commander left them all to search for batteries for the radio as well as food, leaving only one guard, Ravshan Sharipov, to watch the four captives. Second, it has been claimed that Sharipov was drugged by the climbers rather than pushed, and that the climbers changed their story to sound more heroic. We're still uncertain today who was shooting at us, the Kyrgyz military mistaking us for rebels or rebels trying to ambush the base. Home | Climbing Areas | Free My thoughts jumped from scenario to scenario—of gunfights, murders, starvation, hypothermia. Pretty soon it was my lead: a 5.9. Rafshan i Dzhumshut rides BMW - Duration: 1:12. [5 of 5], A Winter Traverse of the California section of the PCT Part 8, Balch Fest 2013. John and Jason had been trying to think of a way to escape the entire time. On the morning of the 12th, the climbers woke to the sound of bullets peppering the rock around their portaledge camp, 1,000 feet up. I wanted so badly to say "up rope" when I started climbing, but I knew that Jason would feed out even more slack. As I burned out on the greasy, plastic holds, I began pestering a man who has the Nose memorized: Hans Florine. But recent developments in Kyrgyzstan have corroborated the climbers' version of events so thoroughly that there's really only one thing left to say: Case closed. My knees were bleeding. In May and June 2001, Sharipov was tried and sentenced to death for terrorism and taking hostages. "I'm evil. The jamoat has a total population of 16,363 (2015). The presence of a large, bearded man, willing to kill us at any time, spooning right next to me, elevated my fear. "It's Tommy's birthday tomorrow," I said. The image of Tommy gracefully moving through this section played again in my mind. I traded in my tight rock shoes for comfortable tennis shoes, stepped onto the security of my jumars, and sprinted up to the belay. Hans had climbed the Nose more than thirty times. Bullet casings and shrapnel from grenades littered the ledges and ground, as did bullet-riddled chalk bags, sleeping bags, propane containers, and shattered CDs. Pushing the limits of rock climbing seemed trivial compared to the solace of home. 2003, El Cap's West Buttress. Jason yelled from his sleeping bag. [Photo] Corey Rich. Got feedback? When asked by Balakina if he'd been pushed or had fallen asleep, he answered, "They pushed me." Foremost among the critics have been writers John Bouchard and Nancy Prichard, a husband-and-wife team from Oregon who charge that the climbers fabricated significant details of their story, a theme Bouchard and Prichard say they'll explore in a book they plan to publish in spring 2004. "As soon as people return in numbers, there will probably be more troubles.". I could not get the image of the dead soldier, limp and pale, out of my mind. The aluminum dug into my back when I chimneyed. Cold and petrified, we tried not to stare, but they controlled our fate. Climb at your own risk. I was exhausted from jumaring pitch after pitch, and downright petrified of how high we were. They agreed to join us on a five-day push on the Yellow Wall, as we tried to establish the area's first 5.13, before they attempted some faster pursuits of their own. I wasn't used to his sort of protection, but it wasn't as if I were leading, so who was I to challenge him? Isn't it fun? We had no hats, sleeping bags, gloves or water. But his efforts didn't do much good for my state of mind when I could see the guy with the machine gun right behind him. IN THE 1990's, AFTER THE FALL OF COMMUNISM and the opening of Central Asia, the Karavshin region of Kyrgyzstan's Pamir Alai rangean area full of El Capitan-size big walls and untouched new routeswas fast becoming an international climbing destination. [Photo] Greg Child collection. It also secretly gave me hope that we might have a future together. Tommy and I were huddled in our portaledge admiring the stars and the daunting walls across the valley, talking about the routes we dreamed of climbing one day. They opened and closed a carabiner over and over and giggled as they tried on our gloves. "I'm the oldest; I'll rap. Among other missions, they wanted to look at the gear the Americans had left behind. As my forearms started to tire, I stopped, breathed and tried to rest. Maybe they were local hunters, messing with us. My dad smiled at our banter, but his eyes looked worried. [Photo] Greg Child collection . Jason "Singer" Smith was one of Kevin's friends. "You'll be fine. The boys attempted to comfort me by telling jokes or by reassuring me that everything was going to be OK. John conveyed to our captors that Tommy and I were married in the hopes that they respected the institution and wouldn't harm me. I convinced him to guide me up the Rostrum. Only 13b! We tossed our packs down. An hour's walk up the valley from our base camp was a smaller wall covered with lime green lichen. "Nothing," I replied, lighting the candle. I reached the belay. Most local Yosemite climbers preferred to talk about climbing rather than actually climb. Jason shot back. We had no Lynn Hill and no satellite phone. But he had rebelled at an early age; Burning Man was now a better representation of his beliefs than the Holy Scripture. I fell asleep that night totally content, hearing "Crazy Train" again and again. Our captors executed a Kyrgyz soldier behind a boulder; later, we took refuge behind his body during a firefight. We sprinted in the moonlight and walked silently in the shadows; four hours passed in minutes. The yellowish granite was abrasive, quickly disintegrating our skin, but its many weaknesses were great for free climbing. There was no way I'd free climb El Cap. After thirty minutes of grunting and groaning, I slumped onto the rope. He had a perfectly chiseled body, dirty blonde hair and a smile that had captured me right away. Five foot six with light brown hair, he was renowned for his offbeat remarks. The experience had stripped me of everything else I had known, and they were the only real comfort left. I asked Hans again and again. "Well, Topher's wife is sick," he said. Tommy climbed delicately, balancing his 150 pounds on the tips of his shoes. "Tommy, those guys were going to kill us. For the next ten minutes I squirmed and wiggled but advanced little more than a few inches. This preserved Dateline's news scoop, but it also prolonged the skepticism surrounding the Americans' story. "They have to head back to Colorado. Two Days in and Around and On The Flake. Every few steps, one of us would stumble and fall. They were going to do the same to us," Jason whispered as he rubbed Tommy's back. Jason, on the other hand, had soloed the Rostrum, even down climbed it. After two magnificent weeks in the Kara-Su Valley, it seemed as if our trip had just gotten started. I pictured President Clinton coming to Kyrgyzstan after we were rescued. It took a week or so before I found a partner. So much for the argument that bullets couldn't reach that high. Great article by Beth Rodden - page 2 - SuperTopo's climbing discussion forum is the world's most popular community discussion forum for people who actively climb outdoors. In the end, it was not a muscled Marine who saved us, but one of the gentlest, most compassionate men I know: Tommy. But the onset of winter weather sent me back to my old routine: six hours a day in the gym, climbing lap after lap. Above me the crack widened. They would provide some of the most technical and difficult slab climbing either of us has ever encountered. Rock dust sprayed our portaledges and sleeping bags. "Got any plans?". As our relationship evolved, so did our progress on the route. In Madagascar, Lynn, Nancy and crew had taught me "safety first": equalize your protection, use three points at the anchor, etcetera. Although Dateline secured this interview ten months before the publication of Over the Edge, Sharipov's admission was kept secret until the show's broadcast in April 2002, after the book came out. About a hundred yards from the army base, we kneeled by a stream and wet our parched mouths. My parents drove us to the San Francisco airport. I thought about my parents, my grandparents, my brother, my cousins. Let us know! Two details in particular have been the source of controversy. Now, finally, I had convinced him to take me up it. I wondered whether they had any idea how much we were suffering and starving and freezing, how utterly scared we were. As we looked up, the wall grew dramatically steeper, from a slab you could practically run up to a more-than-vertical headwall. A major factor was the November 2001 disappearance of IMU leader Juma Namangani, who is believed to have been killed by American forces during U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Tommy was one of the most talented climbers in the country. My mom asked if I had forgotten anything, then, after a short silence, asked again. "Tommy, you just saved our lives," John said. But now, he was curled up in front of a bush on the top of the ridge and tears flooded down his face. It is part of the city of Konibodom in Sughd Region. The tall brown grass provided little relief from the sun. All I could think about was a hot shower and hot food. I dreamed about hot pizza, with so much cheese it left a pool of grease on the plate; about burritos, filled with so many ingredients the tortilla shell couldn't close; about a mug of hot chocolate so big I could swim in it. We had heard of ridiculous free-climbing potential in the Ak-Su and Kara-Su valleys: 3,000-foot granite walls with a backdrop of huge snowy peaks. Twenty-foot boulders scattered among the talus provided us with rainy-day bouldering. The first thing I asked my dad for after we got home was a home security system. In spring 2001, Smith, Dickey, and I went to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, to meet with Sharipov in his prison cell. With her perfect complexion and perfect hair, I couldn't imagine her going more than eight hours between showers.
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