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Nadya Oleneva : A Climber We Lost in 2023

by thesummiters.com
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Nadya Oleneva, a remarkable 38-year-old Russian alpinist, met a tragic end on October 14 while undertaking the challenging ascent of Nepal’s Dhaulagiri I, standing tall at 8,167 meters (26,795 feet). In the company of her climbing partners, Roman Abildaev and Rasim Kashapov, she dared to scale the peak without relying on supplementary oxygen. Unfortunately, her journey to Camp II, situated at 21,916 feet, was marred by a fatal fall.

Photo: Maria Sysoeva
Photo: Maria Sysoeva

Nadya Oleneva wasn’t just an alpinist; she was one of Russia’s distinguished female climbers and had the honor of being nominated twice for the prestigious Piolet d’Or award. Her close friend and climbing companion, Maria (Dupina) Sysoeva, painted a picture of Nadya as a woman of immense physical strength, her prowess only matched by an unwavering love for the mountains.

Hailing from Perm, Nadya’s fascination with the mountains was ignited during her college years, sparked by a transformative trip to the Bezengi Caucasus with a local mountaineering group. Reflecting on that pivotal experience, she shared her overwhelming sense of awe and wonder, emphasizing her naivety at the time about categories, competitions, and the challenges of scaling super-difficult walls or achieving first ascents. Her pure desire was simply to be in the mountains, captivated by the straightforward yet profound goal of reaching the summit and the simultaneous complexity of achieving it.

Over the course of 18 years Nadya Oleneva ascended to become one of the most decorated and a High Profile climbers in Russia, establishing herself as a cornerstone of the national climbing team. Her achievements culminated in a significant triumph at the Russian Mountaineering Federation (FAR) National Championships in 2022, where she clinched victory in the high-altitude technical class. In preceding years, she had amassed an impressive collection of silver and bronze medals in the championship’s high-altitude technical and rock divisions.

Nadya’s journey surpassed sheer athletic accomplishments, it was a testament to her deep connection with the mountains and an enduring legacy in Russian mountaineering. The loss of such a prominent figure leaves a null not only in the climbing community but in the hearts of those who admired her resilience passion and unyielding spirit in the face of formidable challenges.

Nadya Oleneva’s Accomplishments

Within the vast community of 30,000 members in the federation, Nadya Oleneva distinguished herself, claiming the eleventh spot on the FAR website for both the quantity and quality of ascents recorded. What set her apart even more was that she held the highest rank among all the female members on the site, underscoring her exceptional achievements in the realm of climbing.

Adding to her already impressive list of accomplishments, Oleneva earned a prestigious Master of Sports of Russia in mountaineering, a testament to her skill and dedication. She garnered recognition as a four-time nominee and a two-time winner of the Steel Angel, a noteworthy Russian award honoring female climbers. In 2020, her outstanding efforts on the South Muya Ridge in Buryatia earned her the Crystal Peak award from Risk.ru. It was an expedition she herself acknowledged as one of the most challenging experiences of her storied career.

In 2021, Nadya received the Grit & Rock award for female mountaineering, leading her to embark on an inspiring climb with Maria Sysoeva (then Dupina) and Marina Popova. Together, they achieved the remarkable milestone of making the first ascent of Pik Ostryi (15,807ft) in the Orto-Chashma Gorge, marking yet another high point in Oleneva’s climbing legacy.

The subsequent year saw Oleneva joining forces with Ratmir Mukhametzyanov and Alexander Parfenov to forge a new route on the north face of Pik Korolyova (19,081ft) in Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan range. This demanding climb not only earned Oleneva the gold in FAR’s high-altitude technical class but also clinched for the team the prestigious Russian Piolet d’Or, the epitome of recognition in the world of mountaineering. These achievements underscore Nadya Oleneva’s unparalleled skills, determination, and enduring commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is achievable in the challenging realm of mountaineering.

Remembering Nadya Oleneva

Sysoeva, who forged a friendship with Oleneva six years ago, reflected on the remarkable qualities of her late friend. Nadya was not just an ordinary climber; she exhibited exceptional discipline and determination in the mountains. What set her apart was her consistent improvement in skills and techniques year after year, regardless of the challenges faced. According to Sysoeva, Nadya’s unwavering commitment to sticking to her plans, training rigorously, and striving for continuous improvement not only energized those around her but also served as a profound source of inspiration for her students.

Nadya Oleneva and Maria Sysoeva
Nadya Oleneva and Maria Sysoeva

In addition to conquering formidable climbs, Oleneva redirected her focus in recent years towards nurturing the next generation of climbers. Following her graduation from Russia’s Central School of Mountaineering Instructors in 2017, she took a significant step by founding the Perm Mountaineering School. In 2021, she co-founded the all-Russian climbing school Mountain Guru. Nadya articulated her motivation, stating, For me, it was a natural step. I simply had a desire to pass on my experience and knowledge. She went on to express, Mountaineering is so multifaceted that even after 18 years, I am able to set completely new goals for myself, learn, and train in new ways. Each subsequent round of development opens up greater horizons and adds courage and determination to more complex projects.

The passing of Oleneva has left an irreplaceable void in the Russian climbing community. Beyond the immediate impact on her climbing partners, friends, family, and both past and present students, there is a poignant acknowledgment of the potential influence she might have had on future climbers entering the world of vertical adventures. Sysoeva eloquently spoke of Nadya’s profound love for life and the mountains, underscoring her eagerness to share the breathtaking beauty of this world with others. Every moment spent with Nadya held a deeply personal significance for Sysoeva, and each second was imbued with happiness. Nadya’s invincible character unyielding willpower and her unwavering commitment to seeing things through will forever linger in the hearts of those fortunate enough to have been touched by her legacy.

Resource: Wikipedia

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