By Amina Nazarli
For most climbers and outdoorsmen/women mountains are their obsession. Just like for Ex Amateur Extreme Club Leader, professional paraglider Jamal Kashkay.
The 44 year-old athlete told Azernews that experienced once, he cannot stop thinking about the next hiking trip or climbing expedition, making plans and live in dreams.
“This obsession eventually becomes our lifestyle, we trying to invite to this sport our close ones,” he said.
It is not hard to figure out why mountain climbing is such a desirable pastime. Climbing to reach the top of a mountain can be a rewarding experience. Most people already know that climbing comes with great physical demands like walking for hours with a backpack of heavy supplies.
Hiking is a fun, healthy, and affordable activity that is open to anyone. However, it’s important every time you plan your trip to think about safety or plan B. Put your ambitions away, check if you have proper gear and equipment. Check if you and your mates are skilled enough. Check forecast, have the map area and have a good awareness of the route you go.
Professional climbers all know and accept that this sport or, call it, hobby is associated with high risk that they are taking on their shoulders.
Last month, just before few days everyone celebrated New Year, three Azerbaijan alpinists -- members of Gilavar Air and Extreme Sports Club Farida Jabrayilzade, Babur Huseynov and Namin Bunyatzade disappeared in the Caucasus under the Tufan Mountain moving from Khinalig village of Azerbaijan’s Guba region.
“The group was well equipped and two of them were experienced enough. One of the climbers has Lenin peak, Kazbek, Elbrus, etc behind. Nothing really presaged any unsuccessful results,” Jamal Kashkay said. “ Group followed all necessary paperwork and checkup, got permission from Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, as well as from Military authority to pass into pre-boarder area.”
Despite the fact they planned to be back in three days provision was for few extra days just in case, as everyone usually do.
“The last contact we had from them was from the piedmont where they camped at night before the day for summit climbing. This was the last message from our friends who most likely were entombed by an avalanche. That previous night was very inclement for them, with heavy wind and snow,” said Jamal.
Less likely they faced problem later on climbing, but rescue team and helicopters, who were involved in Rescue/Search operation did not find any traces of them being above base camp.
“It is more than two weeks that our and foreign rescue teams are trying to find their bodies at the one of the most beautiful places of our Mountains. Unfortunately this place would be memorized for us forever as the saddest place in Azerbaijan Mountains,” he said.
After all was done to rescue and find them, acknowledging the facts, we have to understand what went wrong and what lessons we learned from this, Jamal Kashkay notes with regret: “How can we prevent incidents in future?”
Despite to the doubtful conclusion of Air and Extreme Sports Federation of Azerbaijan (FAIREX) that climbers should had have anti-avalanche equipment with them, which show very low knowledge of the matter, most of the experienced climbers suggest the following to avoid such kind of incidents in future:
1. Increase from three days to at least five days National Park permission given by Ministry of Ecology and Natural Recourses for alpinists, and make it flexible in period. This will help climbers to choose better weather conditions and stop them to achieve goals by any means, as the clock is ticking.
2. Create a map of avalanche potential risk areas. Ask National Park visitors to avoid camping in such areas
3. Keep recordable GPS transmitters to trace their route and possible incident locations.
4. Accept only experienced sportsman into area in winter time
5. Have more responsibilities from National park authorities regarding the weather forecast
For now these initiatives are suggested from members of the amateur clubs RockStone. Nevertheless more opinions to come and discuss.
“Till now we all hope to find them alive despite the decreasing odds of survival in the current winter climate,” Jamal Kashkay hopes. “And for sure all mountaineering community in Azerbaijan and outside are expressing strong support to Gilavar club members and their leader in these sad days of hope. We know that they did the best in preparing for this trip as well the maximum effort to help and rescue them after. Unfortunately we can’t predict acts of nature and we ascertain this fact.”
Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli
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