International Alpinism Day: Interview with the Head of SUSU Tourism Club, Andrey Efremov

August 8 is the International Alpinism Day. Establishment of this holiday is connected with the names of a Swiss doctor Michel-Gabriel Paccard and a mountain guide Jacques Balmat, who in 1786 were the first mountaineers to reach the top of Mont Blanc, the topmost peak of the Alps; its height is 4810 meters above the sea level. Those, who want to exercise this uneasy sport, need serious training and skills of working with equipment. It is possible to start moving towards this dream together with the SUSU Tourism Club, about activity of which told us its Head, Andrey Efremov.

— In your opinion, why does alpinism attract people?

— As I think, alpinism attracts people by the fact that it is one of the most excellent ways to prove to yourself and the others your strength, as well as fight your fears and weakness; mountains give life experience and discipline one’s body and soul. Alpinists are surely attracted by peaks, unconquered heights, romanticism of mountains and good company. Alpinism is the best way to make true friends, as only well-organized and consolidated teams or roped parties can reach the top of a mountain. An error, miscalculation or clumsy movement of a partner can cost lives of both him and the team. Without a doubt, ascent to the top or overcoming one or another obstacle on the way to the set goal brings a lot of unforgettable positive emotions, including the sense of flight, when it seems that the whole world is spread out before you.

— What is important for an alpinist to know? What physical and psychological training should be for a person who decided to start exercising this sport?

— Alpinism is a tough sport which requires constant concentration. An alpinist should know how to work with special equipment, as well as know the safety rules, behavior regulations when passing obstacles, emergency procedures, regulations of working with surfaces, specificities of local nature, of various stones; an alpinist should also have knowledge in regional studies and orienteering, as well as know the rules and be able to administer first aid.

Alpinism includes difficult technical elements, so physical training should be corresponding. Depending on the mountain which an alpinist is planning to ascend, the alpinist should get ready for this specific mountain, because preparation for ascending the tops which are 1000 meters above the sea level is one thing, and for 5000 meters is another. The level of psychological training can be enhanced only with experience. One should start with mountain tops which are a thousand meters above the sea level, and then incrementally go higher; only then one’s character gets toughen up, and the confidence in oneself, in working with equipment, and the confidence when climbing up a mountain wall appears.

— Do attendees of the SUSU Tourism Club exercise alpinism?

— Attendees of the SUSU Tourism Club practice sport tourism, not the alpinism as it is. However, taking part in competitions as walkers or skiers, it is necessary to be able to work with similar equipment: ropes, karabiners, ice picks, and crampons; be able to organize safety assistance and guidance – generally, the technique is different, but the main equipment and some technical elements are similar for both sport tourism and alpinism.

Mountain tops which the SUSU Tourist Club has conquered are the well-known tops of Taganay and Zuratkul Parks and the Natural Park Iremel. However, the most active members of the Tourist Club ascended Elbrus and mountains of Abkhazia, Crimea, Caucasus and Altay. They were mostly walking routes. But, for example, ascending the Elbrus is a climbing route; it would be impossible to climb up this mountain top without alpinist’s skills.

— Please tell us more details about the Tourism Club. How has it been created? What goals do you set?

— On October 19 of 2011, the SUSU Tourism Club public organization was officially registered under support of SUSU’s Trade Union Committee and the Extracurricular Activities Department. It has its own regulations including the key moments on which the Club’s operation is based. The Tourism Club can be joined by students of the university, they also have a right to elect or be elected to governing bodies of the Tourist Club, as well as take part in organizational management and all events, and use its material and technical resources.

The goals of the Tourism club are: popularization of tourism as a type of active leisure as well as a sport discipline at SUSU, moral-and-aesthetic and civic-and-national education of studentship, and, of course, promotion of healthy lifestyle in the student environment.

Among objectives of the Tourism Club are: organization of hiking trips of various types and difficulty levels; training of SUSU team for participation in sport tourism competitions of city, regional and federal levels; development of topic-based training system and organization of corresponding field events for SUSU students; organization or assistance in organizing competitions in sports related to this area; improvement of tourist’s abilities and skills of the Tourism Club members; and establishment and maintaining of connections with organizations which perform similar activities.

— What other activities are available for those who join the SUSU Tourism Club?

— At the present time, the SUSU Tourism Club is working in several directions. The first direction is weekend trips to various destinations of the Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk regions, Bashkiria, as well as category-related walking, water and ski trips. Active members of the Tourism Club visited Altai, Caucasus and Mount Elbrus.

The second direction is a sport club: regular training, participation in competitions of various levels: city, regional, federal, all-Russian. Membership in the sport section at the university equals physical education classes and allows students passing exams.

The last direction is massive events: friendship meetings and guitar evenings, tourist’s football, trips to the climbing gym, flash mobs, celebratory sport events, and more. As an example, there is a traditional flash mob in September on the occasion of the Tourism Day, where all who willing can pass an obstacle course and can join the club in the area of interest. Practicing sport tourism allows releasing the energy which gets accumulated during the education process, brings a lot of emotions and adrenaline, and allows feeling as part of a team.

— Please tell us more details about the SUSU Tourism School: how does study go and what additional opportunities does it open for students?

— In 2016, in order to perform training of experienced tourists and hikers, the TUShKa School of Basic Tourist’s Training was opened; at that, a new specialty of Physical Education Instructor and Instructor Guide appeared in the system of the SUSU Institute of Supplementary Education. Now the university performs training of professionals in sport tourism. During lectures, students get knowledge in physical education, anatomy, human physiology, organization of tourist trips; they get acquainted with tourist’s sport equipment and more. For practical training, for example, there are classes in orienteering, making ziplines across rivers, etc. Compulsory events for passing exams are weekend hikes: one in autumn, one ski trip in winter, and one rafting during spring; this is where students get to find practical application to the knowledge obtained during classes. The final hike is a walking route of the first difficulty category, before of which there is another one educational and trial hike. Successfully completed route allows students to receive a certificate on category obtainment, get an athletic title provided their successful participation in competitions in the corresponding route category, and take part in a more difficult hike, for example, of the second difficulty level, and by that improve their professional skills.

Azaliya Sharafutdinova, photo source: SUSU Tourism Club
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