July 27, 2019
This landmark event, worthy of registering in the Guiness World Records, happened early in the morning on June 26, 2019, following a 7-day long exhausting expedition to Mount Elbrus, the highest summit in Europe (5,642 m)
A team of brave adventurers headed by Evgeniy Staroselskiy who had earlier this year climbed Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, pulled off what no one had done before. They carried a digital piano up to the Elbrus peak.
Tatiana Stupak, a gifted pianist and slender girl, who spearheaded this record-setting campaign, was on the team. After going all the way uphill for 5 hours through a fierce storm (with gusts of about 60 metres per second) and severe frost (feeling like -30C), she found the strength to perform a couple of classical music pieces right at the mountain top, namely Beethoven's Für Elise and a Nocturne by Cyprus resident David Pentecost.
Being the highest mountain in Europe, Elbrus is very dangerous to climb. Bad tempers of this giant have ruined the dreams of experienced alpinists aspiring to conquer the «Roof of Europe» as well as of numerous amateurs who have gone there to try their luck. Getting frostbite, going astray, falling down the rifts hidden under a layer of permafrost are just a few of the lethal threats facing those trying to climb Elbrus. Not to mention mountain sickness, which can afflict anyone rising to a new altitude for the first time; it brings severe headaches, sickness, insomnia and panic attacks.
Says pianist Tatiana Stupak, «We were shocked right from the start, when we arrived at our base camp. We had to stay in a small hut in the middle of a snow desert without running water or heating. It was equipped with a bunk bed. Electricity was available only for a few hours a day. The toilet was outside at the edge of a cliff. But you get to realise how lucky you are to stay in such a hut as soon as you start making your first steps on a path to the Elbrus peak in the face of raw nature, early in the morning, in full darkness, struggling through heavy snowfall and very strong wind».
Previously, the group had undergone an acclimatisation process, including making it to the top of Cheget mountain (3,461 m). And after reaching their base camp hut, they had climbed to the Pastukhov Rocks (4,700 m) located below the South side of the summit of Elbrus.
The first attempt to climb to the Elbrus summit was undertaken on July 24, 2019, only to be aborted by Mother Nature. The team reached the halfway point, and was halted at the so-called Saddle (5,350 m) by a sudden thunderstorm that made people carrying metal ice-axes, spring hooks and sticks, exposed to lightning strikes. The only right decision, sustained by the Russian Emergency Ministry rescue team's order, was to head back down to the base camp.
Nature finally extended its merciful hand to Tatiana Stupak and her friends two days later, calling them to make another attempt. The climb started at 4 in the morning on June 26, 2019, from the Slanting Shelf (a steep slope leading up to the Saddle) at an altitude of 5,100 m. After reaching the Saddle, the team continued moving up, attached by spring hooks to a tightly fixed rope safeguarding them from falling down the cliff.
«Never before in my life had I been to such an altitude. I felt very bad. My arms and feet felt frozen, and I lacked oxygen. My muscles were already fatigued after the exhausting acclimatisation trips. The path to the summit was icy and covered with thick snow. But I didn't give up, and I pushed forward. I knew that I would make it to the top. You know, it's all the same in mountains and regular life; the most important thing is to believe in yourself and never surrender when you chase your dreams», Tatiana Stupak recalls.
Exactly at 9:04 am on July 26, 2019, the team reached the Elbrus summit, and the air was immediately filled with magical sounds of piano. That was Tatiana Stupak playing Ludwig van Beethoven's Bagatelle No. 25, commonly known as "Für Elise", at the highest point of Europe. This extraordinary recital was wrapped up by Stupak's performance of a Nocturne by David Pentecost, to whom she is immensely grateful for introducing her to the Cyprus classical music stage.
In a classy fashion, Tatiana Stupak became the first human who played piano at Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. That was a heroic achievement that deserves admiration, especially given that Tatiana is a petite woman who went to the mountains for the first time in her life without any special training.
Astonishingly, Tatiana Stupak claims that she is not going to stop. Her next target is Mount Kilimanjaro, where she is planning to play a Russian folk musical instrument known as the gusli.
«I am so thankful to our great guide Evgeniy Staroselskiy, who carried the digital piano for me up to the Elbrus summit. Hopefully, I will climb more mountains together with Evgeniy. I appreciate all members of our team - Alexei Melnikov, Yulia Staroselskaya, Larisa Arshinskaya - for mutual support», adds Tatiana Stupak.
Stupak's special thanks go to sponsors of her ascend of Mount Elbrus: Island Oil, Delfi Partners & Co, Quality Group and Guaba Beach Bar companies.