A trio of Russian climbers pulls off a daring midwinter ascent of Mount McKinley
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Dispatches, April 1998
When Russian mountaineers Artur Testov, Vladimir Ananich, and Alexandr Nikiforov reappeared in Talkeetna, Alaska, last January, they were — to the disbelief of locals — neither sick nor frostbitten nor ready to kill one another. Rather, they were freshly shaven and ready to celebrate, which is hardly the outcome park rangers anticipated
If such high spirits were a little hard to fathom, it’s understandable. The trek, via the popular, moderately technical West Buttress Route, marked the first successful ascent of the 20,320-foot peak in its coldest, darkest month, when temperatures frequently plummet to minus 50 degrees, winds howl to 100 miles per hour, and the sun is above the horizon for a mere four and a
But though they may be little known, the three aren’t exactly averse to high-risk situations. Expedition leader Testov — like his teammate Nikiforov a construction worker who routinely scales tall buildings and church steeples in his hometown of Ryazan — attempted the same feat in January 1997, only to be turned back at 12,200 feet by a blizzard and an unpropitious