Eugeni Krivosheitsev about his mixed climbing adventure
ClimbAndMore: How did your adventure with ice climbing start?
Eugeni Krivosheitsev: It all started in November 2000, when I went to visit some friends in France. One of them was a journalist, Guilliaume Vallote from Grenoble. While we were talking, I confessed that I was a bit tired with competitions, rock climbing etc., and that I was looking for a change. Hearing this, he started to tell me about the youngest climbing discipline, extreme mixed and ice climbing. The discipline itself, I mean as competitions, had already existed for around four years, but it was still in an early phase. Anyway, thanks to my friend I found sponsors who decided to support a man without any previous achievements. I am very thankful to my friend for all the help I got. After the meeting we had had, I thought that there were only some general ideas, and nothing specific, but about a month later, when I was already in Odessa, I got a big box full of equipment necessary for ice climbing! So there was no other choice for me. I had to forget about the holidays I had planned and see what it was. Unfortunately, neither near Odessa, nor in whole Ukraine are there regions with ice climbing areas, and travelling to one of the European ice climbing spots was impossible for lack of time and money - the first competition was planned at the beginning of January 2001. So I went to Moscow, where there was a modern ice climbing wall, with icicles and all what one needs. Ironically, when I got there it turned out that it was above 0oC outside, the wall was melting and was closed for climbers… I wanted to try, but after some five meters of traversing, a policeman told me to go away. After wasting two days, I left Moscow with nothing. When I got home I decided to try my ice climbing equipment in the sandstone rocks near Odessa, where no-one ever climbs. This was the first time I used crampons and tools etc. Then I played "va banque" - I bought a visa, a plane ticket, and went to take part in the first competition of the Ice Climbing Championship in Austria. I got to Pitztal in the evening, had a chat with much more experienced Russian climbers, and finally, at 11 pm I went to the ice climbing wall. Unfortunately, there were no chances of climbing, so I only took a look at the whole construction and finally, exhausted, decided to go to bed. The start list was closed at 7am, so, one more time, there was no chance for me to get more familiar with ice… The competition started. The idea was that the first on the wall was a "demontrator", whose job was to show the route and sequences that should be followed by the competitors. It's easy to notice that it was best to draw one of the last numbers to climb. Well, I got number 2… What's more, the Italian guy who was before me fell off on the first move. So, tu sum up the situation, I only knew what I had seen from the demonstration ascent. Everything was so new for me - colourful boundary lines, wooden panels, suspended blocks etc. Halfway through the route I caught myself unconsciously looking for chalk ;-), which caused some amusement among the audience and other competitors. After the preliminaries I took a very good fourth place and I got to the semi-final. In the semi-final I finished in the ninth place, which didn't allow me to make it to the final. Nevertheless, providing that it was my debut and that there were 50 competitors, this was quite a result for me.
The next competition took place in Saas Fe, on an almost totally mixed wall. Before that event I had had one chance to try mixed rock climbing in the crags. In Saas Fee the lower and medium part of the route was led on rock features, and in spite of lack of experience I was doing quite well and I won this competition. Winning a competition in the first year of training that discipline was really something!
That success must have been a huge motivation for you!
Indeed. After that everything went so well - I had the fourth place at the World Championship in Val di Daone (ice bouldering), then, in March 2002, I won a speed competition in Kirow, beating all the best ice climbers. On that route we didn't use tools but special ice fifi hooks [a kind of a big, sharp "skyhook' for ice, which is also used by the Russians to aid up steep walls covered with thin ice - ed.].