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In the beginning of October she summited Cho Oyu.

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" I'll CLIMB, I'LL RISK... "

On the account of Byelorussian Snow Queen Irina Vjalenkova there're nine 7000-ers and three 8000-ers. In October, 1995 she summited Dhaulagiri (8167 m) in extreme conditions. When Irina after the struggle with mountain descended alone from Dhaulagiri top, she met the night at the altitude of 8000 meters which's recently named as a zone of death. The Arctic cold - after 1 a.m. it reached - 40 °C. The critical situation was aggravated with the strong impulses of a wind. And Irina had neither tent, nor a gas stove, neither a sleeping bag, nor cylinders with life-saving oxygen.

VIsibility was zero and the steepness of a slope was about 45-50 degrees. And she hadn't the headlight - someone experienced climber has told her later: " Probably, it has saved you. The headlamp could have tempted you to the night descent - and a fall…"
In addition Irina also has lost her own tracks. - "I have not at once understood it, - Irina tells. - And when I has tried to find them, the layer of a snow under my foots suddenly brok away and slided down me downwards. Meter or ten has being flown by me?.. "

Fortunately, sliding on a slope, she has managed to stop by the ice-axe. Breath has got off because of the monstrous portion of adrenaline thrown out in her blood, and the whole back soaked in sweat. But it was necessary to do something! On the difficult fern-snow slope she has found a tiny step. In the rock-hard ice she has hardly kicked out small shelf by her boots and crampons, and waited morning there.

She was told later: "Your experience has expanded horizons of medicine in the knowledge of human opportunities". What did they mean? That "eternal night" of 13 hours length or the next "a microsurgical serial" - 14 most complicated surgeries in Moscow clinics where she has spent more than two years? Already after the amputation of phalanxes of toes of both feet and the parts of feet Irina joking asked doctors: "How do you like my feet? You have cut them slightly… But you promised me "only pedicure"… And she heard in the answer: "But anow you have tiny feet like Japaneese girl"...

She had to learn to walk again… Before the amputation, when the journalists from ORT TV channel made the report from her hospital room, they asserted, that nobody is capable to pass through such test, to find forces to continue the struggle for the life in such conditions ...

- I stood on that tiny ledge, and everything, that I could do, are some exercises. And I had to hold strongly my ice-axe - my only safety - it could slip from the ice any minute... I kept warm, being danced a rock-and-roll, squated and abused myself, that I was so foolish, has done tactical mistakes, did not look, when it was necessary, on my watches, has not calculated the speed of ascent...

It began to dawn, and I have found out, that continuous icy skating rink is around, and crampons will not safe me. But when the sun rose, I knew: it is the time! My friends in the base camp think, that I am not already alive, but I'll soon shall be there!

As an athlete and daughter to Doctors, I have some medical education and knowledge of first aid. However in the base camp neither I, nor the our expedition doctor - Bolgarian Karina have not oriented correctly how to liquidate consequences of frostbites 3-4 degrees. I understood later, that it was wrong to defrozen my legs by the water - it's very harm for them.

Upon return, Moscow clinics named after Sklifosovsky, Vishnevsky, the Centre of the science of surgery became my second home...

And I adjusted doctors, because days of the postponed procedures and surgeries turned into weeks, and finally - months delaying my return to a normal life. I faced each surgery with hope and enthusiasm, considering, that each of them approaches me to a high-grade life. Now, watching the video which has been filmed for the scientific purposes during one microsurgical surgery (from the any inhabitant's point of view it was the film of horrors!), I have offered "rags" of skin from my back and hands for rehabilitation of my feet, react absolutely easy, I can even drink tea that moment..

- I can only to envy your optimism, Irina…
- Yes? You would see me in the autumn 1996 when after a series of unsuccessful operations even doctors did not know, what'll be next… I spent about 70 hours in total under a narcosis, with the device of artificial breath... I have accustomed to soporific in hospitals. From time to time I felt that understand better than physicians, what is useful for me. Having told "That's all!" to miself, I has refused soporific pills, though weaned from them painfully. By the way, I absolutely ignored a hospital diet. But not for the benefit of adored delicacies - sweet and flour. I ate only two apples and a banana in day, greens, natural juice or bottle water - I became easy as a grasshopper, therefore, maybe, all healed on me as on a dog. Now I am healthy enough. The unique trouble - my foots. I am restored, as I can, I train muscles, I use public transport, here now I 'm going to ski in Elbrus region.

- And who cared of you that period?
- My friends invited the priest, he gave me books, where I found the answers to exciting questions. After operations the friend-climber was on duty at the nights at my bed. No, I was not lonely. Alexey Opekunov specially for my treatment raised one thousand dollars. When people are incorporated by one business, hobby, there is a brotherhood between them... Irina Sokolova, Sergey Rudjuk, Dmitry Moskalev, Vasily Yelagin, Alexandra Lukina were with me, under any circumstances... Also two Moscow families - Baliny and Jakovenko, hosting me between hospitals. They adapted furniture specially for me, carried me on their hands, when I could not go.

In Spring 1992 Vanda Rutkevich, the famous Polish climber, died on Kangchenjunga's slopes. In Autumn 94 three women -Russians Katya Ivanova and Irina Vjalenkova and Bolgarian Jordanka Dimitrova tryed to summit the same top - and two of them died there.

- When the leader of the expedition Sergey Novikov has suddenly ordered us over a radio: "Only downwards!.. ", I was like the twirled spring. I was in the very peak of the athletic form. But Jordanka ascended ahead - alone, without oxygen. She went quickly. And I... Passionately prayed to God she would descend, to try again later - perhaps that's when she fell...
Alexander Dubrovsky, the member of our expedition, climbed to Camp 2 and has told, that Kulbachenko has already summited, and our team needn't new possible victims. In the morning I with heavy bagpack ascended to advanced camp at 7800: has taken two cylinders with oxygen, ice-axe, an oxygen mask... At the plateau I glanced back and noticed that Alexander followed me. In the camp we found the broken tent - we have set and fixed it, but we were possible to sit only there. There was one sleeping bag, and we simply were covered by him, sitting the whole night. We warmed by gas, but nevertheless it was awfully cold. Alexander has frozen his feet. Next morning he has unequivocally declared, that he goes only downwards and neither about the top, nor about any searches of Jordanka's body. And I stood and I looked upwards - up to top mad distance - about 800 vertical meters. And I wanted to CRY!... I wanted upward and at the same time I understood, that should not go. In the base camp Leonid Lozovsky has greeted me: " Thanks, you have still brains... " But internal struggle: " I nevertheless should not turn off! " - proceeds in my soul till now...

My friends tried to talk me out of Dhaulagiri climb, warned of risk! Yes, I have felt, that the Lord did not want to permit me to the top. But has not obeyed: " Forgive, I shall try... "

I explained mountaineering is need to myself, first, because there I have met people who are not present "at plaines". Second, the magic of " the protogenic world ". It is impossible to discribe neither by paints, nor words. The third - all of us are cleared of "peel" in mountains, we become purer, better, more fair. In mountains I feel full harmony with myself, pacifications and love. Well and fourthly... - adrenalinic additional charging due to which the life is perceived more sharply, in all completeness.

- Are you married?
- No. I was married almost six years. I married at 18. The husband was categorically against mountaneering, but it was not the reason of divorce. Regular men will not suffer a strong personality like mine - it's not interesting to them, is it? My happiness is the dialogue with non-standard people, there are guys-climbers. I see the man in the man, if he should interest me as the person, to possess some talents, or be better than me at least in some regards - I want to be able to look up to him... However, I am " the very woman ", very sensual. In expeditions I look at the man as on the brother. No flirting.

She looks like Skarlett O'Hara and her eyes light up:
-I enjoy to be looked after and have a man charm me. When you are one in a team of men, you become the most beautiful woman in the world - and this feeling is tremendous. In mountaineering I really feel like a true Woman. Despite heavy bag packs and the hard work on the route, I always bring make-up - to look well even in the most terrible conditions. And the men are capable of compliments...

The information
Irina Vjalenkova climbs since 1980. She's an instructor in mountaineering and mountain skiing. The first Byelorussian Master of sports of the International class. She has 10 climbs to Elbrus (5.621 m), 9 - 7000-ers and 7 - on 6000-ers

On October, 12, 1995 during Dhaulagiri descent (8.167 m) after the summit Irina Vjalenkova met night at the altitude of 8 thousand meters. She had to stand on one tiny ledge during 13 hours. In the morning she could go down downwards. However she has received feet frostbites - III - IV degrees. More than half of her feet should be amputated. Irina has passed through 14 serious microsurgeries, has lead 70 hours under a narcosis. Than - two years under the treatment and rehabilitation. But in the summer 98 Irina has again ascended to Elbrus...

In May 2001 Vjalenkova, being the invalid, has organized the expedition and became the first Byelorussian who has climbed the highest point of Northern America - Denali.

Talked: Vyacheslav KLIMENKO, Svetlana BARTOSHEVICH


Translated by Elena Laletina