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Fersman's expedition. Ascent to the Khibiny

Those who waited for easy ascension will certainly dispel dreams. The further the road goes, the harder the way - there are stone boulders, steep uphill gradient. It is easy to fall into a trap that was meticulously prepared by Mother Nature. Be careful of vast show fields that seem a reliable crossing but in fact hide mudflows and stone rivers. Like experiencing «chute the chute» - go down or go up, eventually, expedition group reached the first peak of Putelichorr mountain.

Expedition of Alexander Fersmana in Khibiny

The group was so target-driven and didn't even notice how passed the first mountain chain. But the way is long. There is a huge «abyss» of wonderful river valleys. Pulling themselves together, the group was on Putelichorr's peak and noted that they are on the «threshold» of the pass from the first ring (mountain chain) to the second one. The mineral world here is of that in natural chibinite. The described above red-crimson eudialytes, eucolites and mesodialyte are located here in large amounts. Moreover, lamprophyllite is also here.

On the way to the second peak of Putelichorr mountain divided by the deep hollow explorers collected minerals and enjoyed investigating the peculiarities of the veins found here and there. Way down was not easy - icy snow together with steep slope made it «spicy». On top of all that shelve rock with melted snow created additional obstacles. As for hollow, it also full of various stones, big and small. Here the group found deposit of pegmatite veins , significant accumulation of eudialyte.

Group of explorers admired radiant glaze of lamprophyllite to their hearts content and moved uphill to the second peak of Putelichorr mount. Like it or not - explorers had to climb the slope over huge rockslide. Crossing the snow fields they had to cut steps in ice. Ascending delayed due to risk of bogging down in mug slurry under the snow layer. Near the peak itself the ascending became easier. The road goes through the snow-covered plateau. It was near and second peak was won. Being tired of toilsome climb up one can recover breath in snow-covered perfectly flat plateau.

Moving to the east they had to pass the deep, loose snow and stone road. Steep cliff horrifies with its beauty in the Kunijok river valley called by Saami - Kukisvum - Valley of the valleys. It should be noted that the best road is that comes from the south of the Khibiny and goes to the north. River valley in a giant split exists since the time of the Khibiny massif formation. Later on, this so called tectonic fracture was a place for largest glacier that contributed to the formation of the real glacial trough. Now Kunijok river is running here.

Putelichorr peak is so high that river seems to be a thin thread shining under the toying sun. Taking a look into the distance one can distinguish unapproachable huge peaks adjoining with each other, Rischorr and Kukisvumchorr peaks.

Working their way through the ring, explorers went down to the heaven born Khibiny valley of Tul’jok river. Somewhere in the east of the Khibiny tundra there is a dazzling lake Umpjavr. It is a sort of dividing line between the Khibiny and faraway Lovozero tundra. In general, Putelichorr peaks are the perfect place for study the relief and landscape of the Khibiny massif. Wending the way to the very heart of the Khibiny massif, the expedition had a chance to overcome magnetic beauty of Lutnermajok and Idichjok river valleys.

Peculiarity of this area is certain ending of riverhead of the valley by twisting circuses. It is pure influence of the climatic conditions of the area on the rock mass. There are places here where snow lies even during summer time. This destroys the innocent rock mass as snow is melting or freezing again. The process includes snow melting and water penetrating into microfractures in the rock. Then it happens as a given. The water freezes again and as a result increases in volume thus destroying the rock and making it rotted.

Therefore, the trench is going deeper, transforms to a basin in time, eventually becomes a circus with cliffs of 100 meters high. There are many circuses in the Khibiny tundra. Literally each second circus has the similar characteristics being different only by relief development stage. Extreme deepening of the circus results in lake formation at its bottom. Local area is so picturesque that everyone who was lucky enough to be there cannot stand idly. Dreadful cliffs of the circus with many fractures remind monster face covered with scars. The lakes enrapture by inexpressive blue color, green block of ice are drifting on its surface, green of melancholy and striving for accidental passer-by for a delighted look.

Such a picture can be often seen: two circuses engrained by different sides «sealed with a kiss» and joining by peaks. Deep saddle is formed in this place secured at both sides against searching glances by rockfalls from the mountain.

Almost each Khibiny pass is like described above. However, each has its own destiny: first were destroyed by tectonic fractures, others suffer glacial ploughing later on, the third - are unknown to the present day. To overcome such pass is not an easy task. It is hard due to significant steepness of the slopes and rock falling. One can hope only for luck and God's favor when ascending step by step this giant staircase.

It is impossible to wander over the Khibiny tundra and not to face residual deposits. Sometimes one need to go up on yet another boulder for many kilometers long and then go down or jump from stone to stone as a quick gazelle haunted by predator. There are no stones in the valleys but when you reach the flat peak - be ready to «roller coaster». There is a feeling that you plunged into «stone ocean» and desperately fight against the wave. But for the firn fields travelers would stay there unable to reach the goal. it is interesting to observe the stone «stream» flowing down the mountain peaks.

Rock fill seems to guard the young stream from stormy weather, this stream becomes a deep river in the valley. Regular melting and freezing of the snow water described above results in rock failure and contributes to rock movement down the slope. Such stone rivers can be easily recognized by absolute lack of vegetation. Mass of rock destroys everything on its way. Location of such stone flows is evident - mountain slopes. One surely noted that the Khibiny mountains are striped as zebra. This occurs due to natural interchanging of stone stripes with the gravel material.

«Stone nets» strikes by unique character by reason of permanent frosty weather. Special outlining of the earth surface for hexagons is a unique feature, hexagon's size is ranging from 50 centimeters to one and a half meter width. One can encounter such wonders in Novaya Zemlya, Medvezhy island and Spitsbergen. This shape has scientific grounds being a result of interchanging of soil melting and freezing. Water penetrates into ground, freezes and expands, then force out rocks on the surface. So called soil cushions make hard the ascending the pass as foot sinks in the mass under rock fill.

All described above is nothing in comparison with the hardships that one meets during his trip in the Khibiny massif. Aleksander Fersman remembered well the rockfall near the Ramsay gorge, he and his companions witnessed having overnight in the upstream of Lutnermajok. It seems that gods hammer on sinful earth in order to punish the rebellious people. During 5 minutes nothing could be seen due to thick fog, only horrifying roar was heard. They had to forget about ascent of Chasnachorr that was planned before. Two more days the peak was covered by heavy and thick clouds.

Eventually, the expedition results were records and conclusions that the Khibiny mountains are not unapproachable as senior schoolchildren won it. If one prepares for the trip properly, follows all the safety rules then one can get invaluable experience and feel blissful wandering these wonderful places.

Academician Aleksander Fersman encouraged everyone interested not to be afraid of making a trip to this fascinating polar land wrapped in mystery. And people heard the words of the «prophet» represented by Aleksander Fersman. Nowadays the Khibiny are hospitable land for the new tourists striving for learning the mysterious world of the Khibiny massif.

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