In August 2019, together with the international climbing team, I headed to a wilderness of Armenia to open and document a new climbing region on the untouched limestone cliffs of Dilijan. Our aim was to fulfil ourselves creating something lasting for others and cause a debate on environmental issues, mental health, the problems of the local population and the role women play in male-dominated industries.
The expedition was supported by Sennheiser, COKIN, MEC, Petzl, Scarpa, Hive Bouldering Gym, PAJAK, Fjord Nansen, MILO, Grimpi, Onward Up, Organic Climbing, Climbing Anchors, UNSW Outdoors Club & University of Bristol.
During the six weeks in Armenia we spent almost a month on the wall marking the routes in places that nobody had reached before. Every day we were breaking through the bushes of the wild rose and dropping large rock blocks. Cleaning the wall took a tremendous amount of strength and time, but it allowed us to discover a unique limestone structure and the potential for which one life is not enough.
The surrounding walls reach a maximum height of 400 meters, creating majestic 15-kilometre cliffline. Looking at the overwhelming enormity of the space, we decided to focus on an area of a few hundred metres, which offers fantastic slabs, long multi-pitch adventures and short but very demanding sport routes - all within a 10-minute walk of a Bisetka (picnic shelter) made from the roof of an old bus. As such, we’ve named this sector: Bisetktor. That's how we wanted to pay tribute to those extremely kind people who, despite the fact that they worked the hardest of all of us, watched our activities with curiosity, often sharing water and food, as well as visiting our camp with slightly stronger drinks.
Although the weather seemed to check the limits of our resistance to sun, wind, storm and rain, we managed to create three sectors - The Empress Slabs, Shady Water Gully and The Nest, which consist of 22 routes - 20 sports and 2 trad, as well as two sports and trad projects. Grades range from 5c to 8b and include a variety of formations that should satisfy both first-time climbers and professionals who want to push their boundaries higher and higher. Some of the routes created have been tested by kids from the surrounding Dilijan, who have been invited by us to climbing activities as part of building an outdoor community and passing on interests that stand in opposition to developing bad habits.