As I review data for the Baggers without Borders 2021 international tables, my thoughts inevitably drift to the terrible situation in Ukraine today and the contrast with our two trips there.
In 2013 we flew to Kiev and got the train to Crimea to ascend various prominent hills there, including Roman Kosh 1545m, P1541m. In 2019 we walked across a bridge in a sleepy town in Romania to backpack along the Carpathians, including an ascent of Gora Hoverla, 2061m P721m, Ukraine’s highest mountain.
By 2014, it was more or less impossible to enter Crimea, and seemingly will be for the foreseeable future; I imagine the Romanian border bridge is now busy with a very different sort of traffic. The Soviet-era trains and grand stations that were a nostalgic part of our Ukrainian trip, with samovars for hot tea in each railway carriage, have turned out to be the unassuming stars of a desperate evacuation. Every time we hear of the bombardment of Kyiv I can see the majestic orthodox domes rising above historic and modern streets, never to be the same again.
We met lots of mountaineers on our trips mainly Ukrainian but also Russian, who considered these hills as local. They were all keen to chat (in English) about hillwalking. In Crimea, we had an impromptu lesson on fungi; they were concerned we should avoid the poisonous ones. The Ukrainians were fiercely proud of their beautiful country. It appeared that climbing the high point of Ukraine ‘once in their lifetime’ was a patriotic duty and the summit was festooned with yellow and blue flags and busy even on a somewhat cloudy midweek day. At one remote campsite, some Russians showed us the water source and shared food. One Russian mountaineer said to us, memorably, ‘Putin is not Russia’.
In fact, wherever we have been climbing in the world, we have found that with mountaineers, we are all equal. Despite the ‘green angst’ I feel about flying, I like to think that my bagging without borders is a tiny step towards peace. I hope that by the time you read this the situation in Ukraine will have improved.
The BwB 2021 International Peak-baggers' Tables
The 2021 BwB International Peak-baggers' Tables have been published on a new website.
The Tables have been expanded to include P-Top 100 - catering for those who climb the one hundred most prominent peaks in the world, in addition to P100m, P300m, P500m, P600m, P1000m, P1500m, and P2000m.
You can also read their 2021 Report and the Tables themselves can be accessed from the links in the 2021 Report, or by using the menu bar on this website.