2023 Steel Angel award winners

Galya Terentyeva, Olga Lukashenko

Slesov peak (4240 m, Karavshin), Perestroyka Crack route 5.12-, 7b or 7а/A2,1000 m, Faivre, Gentet, Givet and Roche)

Olga and Galya became the first all-female-team to climb the Perestoyka Crack and, most notably, to free climb the entire route, being the second female climbers (after Lynn Hill) to ascend the route by free climbing.

Length of the wall part: 1060 m

Length of the stages (UIAA Grades):  V — 200 m, Vl — 420 m, VII/VII+ 360 m, Vlll/Vlll+ 80 m.

The route was completed by leader free climbing only, no AID climbing. It took the team 21 working hours with 2 overnight stays on the wall, because it started to rain every day at 15:00, so the team stopped ascending at that time.

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

  2023 Nominees

Marina Popova, Daria Seryupova, Anastasiya Kozlova

Winter ascent to the Box peak (4240 m, Ala-Archa), left side of the northern wall, Seliverstov route 5B ( Russian Alpine Grades), second ascent

The second ascent of the route and the first ascent made by a female team.

Route length: 1100 m.
Elevation change: 800 m. Average slope steepness of the main part: 80°.

The route was completed without any preparatory work, alternately by free and AID climbing. It took the team 3 days with 2 overnight stays in a hammock, which was filled with snow, because there are no suitable shelves on the route. The total amount of working hours for the team was 27 hours.

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Nadezhda Oleneva, Daria Seryupova и Anastasiya Kozlova

Peak 4810 (peak Odessa, Karavshin) along the right edge of the northwest wall, a version of the Ovcharenko route 6А (Russian Alpine Grades)

The second completion of the route by a female team and the first completion as a 3-person team.

Length of the wall part: 1200 м.

Most of the wall is completed by leader free climbing, including 190 m of UIAA VII grade.

The route is completed without any preparatory work in 3 days with 2 overnight stays on the wall, total amount of working hours of the team was 22 hours.

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Galya Terentyeva, Yevgenia Alexeeva, Olga Lukashenko

Peak Asan (4230 m, Karavshin), Gorbenko route, 5B (Russian Alpine Grade)

Route length: ~ 1200 m. Length of the wall part (before the bridge): ~ 800 m.

The route was completed by leader free climbing in 14.5 hours with one overnight stay on the route.

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Inna Kravchenko, Irina Vasilyeva, Natalia Belyankina

Dalar (3979 m, Uzunkol, Caucasus), Porokhnya route 5B (Russian Alpine Grade)

Total length: 1880 m, 20 pitches.

The route was completed mostly by leader free climbing with minimal AID usage, without any preparatory work, in 3 days with 2 overnight stays on the route. Total amount of working hours of the team was 34 hours.

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Expert Jury 2023

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Arkady Klepinin. Co-founder of the Steel Angel award. CEO of Alpex company, which is an official Russian distributor of Grivel.

Liana Darenskaya. Co-founder of the Steel Angel award. Founder and Editor of “RISK On-site” magazine and the website Risk.ru. A journalist, photographer, and a participant of international exhibitions, published in National Geographic Traveller. Provided media coverage of international outdoor events such as festivals, competitions, marathons, exhibitions, and actively participated in these events as a member of the official press group.

Irina Morozova.   Co-founder of the Steel Angel award.  Creator of women’s rock climbing and ice climbing festivals. Professional editor, and outdoor journalist. Steel Angel award winner (2016) and nominee (2009, 2018), as well as Crystal Peak award nominee (2015, 2018). Laureate of the XIX Moscow International Film Festival of Mountain and Adventure Films “Vertical” (2016).

Christina Kozlova. Editor and program manager of RD Studio, traveler, who has been to three poles of the Earth. Participant of Everest expeditions (during “The High-Altitude Gen” movie shooting), participant of an autonomous Emelya cross-country vehicles rally around Antarctica.

Valery Babanov. Piolets d’Or award winner (2002, 2004), laureate of international awards “Silver Genziana” (Italy, 2002, 2008), “Explorer” (Poland, 2004), “Golden Hook” (USA, 2008), “Crystal vase” (Czech Republic, 2008). Has been twice on the jury panel of Piolets d’Or (2003, 2005).

Mario Dibona Moro. Mountain Guide, Italian National Instructor, Knight of the Italian Republic for sports achievements. Eight-thousanders ascents: Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum II (Himalaya), K2 and Broad Peak (Karakoram, Pakistan).

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Mario Dibona, a member of the jury for the Steel Angel Award 2023, shares his choice

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the winners of the award, Olga and Galina, who completed such a challenging route—my compliments and applause to them! However, I voted for a different style of ascent and chose the route on Peak Box, completed by Marina, Darya, and Anastasia. Why? Because I see mountaineering in a slightly different light. From my point of view mountaineering and mountains symbolize freedom, not only challenges. Mountains are not a gym where the strongest always wins. In my opinion, mountains reward climbers who have ethics and discipline in their mountain pursuits, and in these three girls, I saw determination and resolve to tackle a mixed route with ice tools, in crampons, on ice, rock, and walls. The route itself is highly variable, with no obvious and readable crack lines, making it necessary to decipher. Their route had many options, and it was easy to get lost on it. That’s why I chose this route as the one closest to my idea of being in the mountains and cast my vote for it.

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Valery Babanov, a member of the “Steel Angel — 2023” award jury, shares insights on his choice

I awarded the first place to a team of girls who climbed Peak Slesova (4240 m, Karavshin), following the route Perestroyka Crack 5.12-, 7b or 7a/A2,1000 m, established by Faivre, Gentet, Givet, and Roche. The route was completed in pair and in a beautiful style—an impressive first female free ascent! This underscores the high level of free climbing skills among women on rock surfaces.

The only team that could compete with the girls who climbed the route on Peak Slesova was the one that ascended Peak 4810. Nadezhda Oleneva, Darya Seryupova, and Anastasia Kozlova climbed the Ovcharenko route graded at 6A. However, I placed this team in second position since there were three individuals, and notably, this route had already claimed the Steel Angel victory in 2019.

For the third spot, I chose a winter ascent, as I’ve always believed that winter mountaineering demands higher standards than its summer counterpart. Marina Popova, Darya Seryupova, and Anastasia Kozlova undertook a winter ascent of Peak Bok (4240 m, Ala-Archa), following the left side of the South wall, on the route established by Seliverstov, graded at 5B — its second completion. While technically less challenging than routes in Karavshin, in my opinion, I assigned this route the third place.

The remaining two positions naturally followed from the selection of the top three.

Respect to all participants and judges of the Steel Angel Award 2023. Valery Babanov

The ceremony for the 15th Steel Angel Award

2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award
2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award
2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award
2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award
2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award
2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award
2023. “Steel Angel”: women’s climbing award

Interview with the Winners of the 15th Steel Angel Award — Olga Lukashenko and Galya Terentyeva

“Karavshin — these are immense, formidable mountains, colossal walls,” says Olga. “Every mountaineer and rock climber, from their early days, dreams of venturing into Karavshin.”