Abseiling In Pripyat, Chernobyl
Taking a short break from the UK and visiting Ukraine, where we decided to conquer a couple of locations with our ropes challenge. Ukraine is in a volatile situation; Russia is pushing from the East and it was only a year ago that there were protests turning into riots in Kiev, which ended in many deaths.
Our plane to Ukraine landed in Kiev, thankfully now the city is much more at peace than it was last year. But, our contact for Chernobyl explained that there was a risk of Russian terrorism in Chernobyl and that the military was on high alert. At the checkpoints in Chernobyl there was an increase in army personnel and there were also defences made from giant sand bags outside the buildings. It's clear Ukraine is at war...
Not yet put off, we continued into Chernobyl, hoping the guards would not spot out ropes and gear while searching our vehicle at every checkpoint.
While in Pripyat we managed to abseil a soviet apartment block and also abseil the famous Pripyat Ferris wheel. Full reports are available via the links.
Chernobyl is still highly radioactive after the disaster in 1986, armed with Geiger counters we set of to conquer the locations. Whilst background radiation is still at least ten times what it is in the UK, on some roofs we did measure 18 µSv/h, around 120 times more than it is in the UK.
While the radiation on the Ferris wheel and apartment rooftop was at low levels, getting to their locations was sometimes more difficult. Walking into radiation hotspots can be dangerous and so we had to be careful. The highest reading we had while in the zone was in the basement of the hospital, reading over 100 µSv/h and still rising, before we decided to retreat.
Throughout the zone there are military guards protecting the zone from looters and terrorists. While we would never cause any damage or steal anything, it would never be easy to explain why we were abseiling in Chernobyl in the first place. So, keeping away from the main roads which are used by the guards, we cut across the wasteland and made our way to each location.
The abseil went well, with the exception of the slight difficulty getting the rope protector in place and also the issue with landing in a radioactive thorn bush, all was good! After a high-five with MrDan we almost walked right into a military patrol, even though the abseil was done we still would have struggled to explain the gear on us. So, without hesitation we ran into a wooded area.
The Pripyat Ferris Wheel Abseil
The Ferris wheel was more of a challenge than the apartment building. The original plan was to climb to the top, take a couple of selfies and then abseil to the ground. Unfortunately, climbing to the top proved more difficult than originally thought and that idea was scrapped in replacement for the ladder climb and abseil.