In July 2007 my girlfriend Chris and I were once again climbing in Romania . The new climbing guidebook has been just printed and so we tested it at the “real rocks”. We met many old and new friends there and climbed a lot of the brand-new sport climbing stuff. It was great!
After two weeks we followed our plan to go on to Russia . Looking at the map I found out, that we made already half of the distance between Germany and the Russian area around Sotschi, where my mental map still has some white spots. Steffen Heimann, who manages the climbing gym in Leipzig, invited us to take part on a sport climbing expedition, which should established a new climbing area with the Name “Indjuk”, close to the little harbour town of Tuapse. The plan was to add modern sport climbing routes to the few already existing old style climbs on strange formed sandstone cliffs with a height of some 80 metres.
So we left our car in Romania to go on by public transport saving both money and stress. Of course, there were some problems to deal with.
The first thing was Moldova . Romania actually has a 150 kilometre long common border with Ukraine – but not a single checkpoint to cross it. The only road runs through a one kilometre stripe of the tiny country of Moldavia for which we would have to buy an extra visa. We wanted to save that money and looked for a ferryboat crossing the Black Sea . But there was none. Thanks to a long search in the web I found the deciding hint: since 2007 EU citizens don't need visa anymore for Moldavia . So let's go!
But things don't work so fast. There is simply no bus to the border. So we have to take a taxi just to face the next problem: it is not possible, to cross this border by walking. The first idea is to by inline skates but a good tip given to the taxi driver can help as well. He is talking to the police officer who instantly opens the door of the first car waiting in the line and puts us inside. The driver of that car is not that amused but his face starts a smile when we leave his Lada after the border by handing him out a 5-€-bill. We are thankful not having to walk that thin stripe of Moldavia but from now the golden west lies behind us. Bright uniforms, dark looking soldiers and a late communistic atmosphere makes us clear, that this is the place where the real east meanwhile starts. I just hope these people know that there is no visa necessary for Ukraine and we would not have to pay any extra fees. I well remember old times, when East Germany was more and more like a cage and in 1989 the last border to Czechoslovakia was blocked. But those times are over and so I hope that our knowledge of eastern behaviour can help us here. Rule number one: keep your face, don't be angry and do not smile. Because we have already crossed that cultural line of smiling. Smiling, as it is used in the west when meeting people for the first time, is not common here. To be honest – this western smiling is very superficial and sometimes done just by commercial reasons – but it looks good.
Finally the old game of waiting starts. By chance we block the hallway with our bodies and big rucksacks. It works – the officer controls our passports and we are out of the checkpoint. Welcome to Ukraine !
It was always hot!
Still we need some patience ‘cause the road is empty and all those people with a car are still waiting on the checkpoint. Hitchhiking fails but a private “taxi” carries us to Reni, the next little city inbound. From there we take a bus toward Odessa . The driver hurries like a devil but suddenly has to stop on another checkpoint. I take a glance at the map and see the reason: there is another tiny stripe of Moldavia splitting off this part of the Ukraine and marking a late triumph of the dictator Stalin. As an unexpected wonder we don't have to wait like all the private cars that are waiting there for hours. Public busses go through instantly making us satisfied with our decision to leave our car back in Romania .
Finally Odessa ! We have reached a big station of the national railway net and hope to continue by train from here to Krasnodar just north of the Caucasus . I was about to call for a doctor when the stiff lady at the information desk didn't react on my question and I thought she could be already dead when she finally said “after tomorrow”. She didn't give any other information but for us was clear that there would be no more trains in our direction. The rumour and bustle on that station appeared strange. Even as there where full trains waiting on the platforms in the complete time we spent there not a single one moved. We shifted to a travel agency and tried again to get a ferry boat over the Black See. But the friendly (!) lady there informed us that there are neither ferries crossing the see, just a single luxury liner that needs a week. I ask myself how come all those dotted lines on the maps?
We had to use our last option and took the last night bus to the peninsula Crimea hoping we would be able to pass at least the small isthmus of Kertsch by ferry boat to reach Russia . We had no informations if this would work, “Pasmotrim” – lets see, as Russians use to say.
The night trip was o.k. but the following day tortured us again with over 40 degrees in old busses without any AC. Simferopol, Feodosija, Kertsch – I've never imagined Crimea as it is: a steppe plain as a table for about 90% of its extension. It is just that genius water channel coming from the huge river Dnjepr in the north that passes over the small land bridge, runs through all Crimea and irrigates those unimaginable large fields of wheat. Some kilometres east of Kertsch the peninsula ends and 5 kilometre wide sea street divides it from Russia . European travelling without visa ends here. We've obtained visas in advance but even though we are curious about this border. The first experience is a good one since the bus may pass all the waiting cars again. Community is more then the individual – this is the core of eastern lifestyle – and we are thankful for it. There is only space for 16 cars on the ferryboat if one takes care about the limited space. Russians don't and so only 12 of it fit on the small ferry. On the way back we will be sitting in such a car and wait for 7 hours in the heat…
Russians and Ukrainians bother each other as much as possible. The Empire of the bear still regrets that Chrustschow handed out the mostly Russian inhabitated Crimea as a gift to Ukraine in 1954. At this time this did not seem to be a matter because no one could imagine the Soviet Union to split off. But this day sees tears of a mother divided of her daughter due to the lack of some papers. The controls are very strict, it seems as the border police is looking for terrorists. I just don't understand why they look for them here and not within the creml.
The bear rock at Indjuk
Then the ferryboat makes the – in comparison to the waiting time - ridiculous short distance to the other shore. The game of waiting, controlling, answering stupid questions and waiting starts again. Finally this ends and the bus continues to Krasnodar . But stop – there is another checkpoint just 2 kilometres inbounds. There was no split of on this narrow stripe of land, what can be controlled here which has not been controlled already – I have no idea. But nobody in this post communistic system is paid for his ideas. Do not think and fulfil the orders of your boss is the basic of this society. We exercise patience again, reach Krasnodar by night and catch a train from there to Tuapse at the next morning.
The rocks of Indjuk
Steffen picks us up in this little town and after two hours strenuous walk up into the mountains we reach the climbing area Indjuk. It is a little paradise with rough rock which turns out as volcanic tuff instead of the expected sandstone. This rock type has even better qualities for climbing and so we enjoy climbing in the next two weeks and put up new routes on virgin rock with phantastic forms. Rock towers up to 80 metres see their first ascents.
First ascent of Kremltanz 6c, 2 pitches
Together with Max Foigel, who takes care for the area, his friends, the moving drilling machine called Steffen and his wife Ilka we create more then 30 new routes up to 7b+. On the final event climbers come from all Russia to climb these new lines and compete with each other. The final for the men is even too hard and remains unclimbed.
Equipment for the first ascents
Hard work ….
… and pleasure!
Christiane Hupe making the first ascent of the “Frauenversteher” 6c
On the way back we visit the well-known sport climbing areas of Crimea . From Simferopol , the capital of the island, we follow the longest and slowest trolley bus line of the world crossing the mountains and winding down to the coast of the Black Sea . The mountains on the southern part of the peninsula have a steep rim at their south side with bright white cliffs facing south. We climb three days but the heat on the mostly south facing walls is not to bear in the summer time and so we continue our way back home. It takes a long time again, to cross all borders …
Multi pitch routes are the reason to come – but not in the summer time
The rock Parus offers short sport climbing routes
Steffen Heimann works his way up in a 6b+ crack
The Red Rock (Krasnui Kamen) is the most visited climbing area since people can pitch up their tent nearby.
The climbing area of Indjuk is worth a detour if you are in the Caucasus anyway and look for some sport climbing crags. To go over land takes a lot of time and passion for the “special experience”. We recommend the plane instead (Moskau-Krasnodar).
More information can be found at www.climbinduk.org (in Russian)
Climbing Area Indjuk near Tuapse – Overview
Topo of the main sector you find for download in the PDF below ;-)