In Memoriam. 

Boris Avdeev

In June/July 2010 Boris Avdeev and I went to Svaneti (Georgia) and climbed Shkhara (5193m), one of the hardest, but most memorable, successful and enjoyable trips I ever had. It resulted in new geological data, the first accurate elevation survey of the summit (establishing 5193m), and the first partial ski descent from the main summit via the south pillar (ED-/5B/55°+), arguably the most difficult ski line existing in the Caucasus.
Svaneti was our last journey together. Boris died on April 19th in an avalanche on Mt. Dana, California. He was training for our upcoming Caucasus expedition. Boris was my strongest and most dependable climbing partner and our friendship had shaped through intense moments on hard routes, mutual respect, and forgiveness for each other's faults and weaknesses. Boris was an exceptionally strong climber, a brilliant geologist, and a young, intellectual, joyful man embracing life to the fullest. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten.

Andi Riesner

In 2009, Andi Riesner and I made the first ski descent of iconic Lap Nazar (5990 m) in a remote corner of the Tajik Pamirs. We rated the route via the NW Ridge and West Couloir at 50°+. It stands as one of the major ski descents in the Pamirs and Central Asia. It was our last great tour together. Andi died on 8 February 2012 in an avalanche accident in the Austrian Alps. He was a great partner and true friend. He will not be forgotten and is deeply missed.
>>To Andi's Website

Gerald Puffinger

On Mayerlrampe (60-70° ice/D+), Großglockner (3798m) north face. May 2006. The climber is Gerald Puffinger. He died 2006 in the Cordillera Real of Bolivia. Großglockner was our last climb together. He was a mentor, friend and the person who taught me that being with friends in the mountains is just as satisifying as pushing your limits.

Zaal Kikodze and Merab Khabazi

In July of 2005 Zaal Kikodze and Merab Khabazi were caught in a storm high up on difficult Ushba in the Georgian Caucasus, and never returned. I had the pleasure to be invited for dinner with both of them during my first journey to the Caucasus, and the long evening was full of inspiration to continue climbing and skiing in their beloved Svaneti and to travel on to Central Asia.
Zaal was an accomplished alpinist, but more over a scholar, professor of archaeology and intellectual. He was the most inspiring persons I have ever met. He also first raised my interest in the refugees of the Georgian-Abkhaz war, a topic I would later dedicate a photo portfolio to. Merab, an Everest summiter, was one of Georgia's famous climbers. Strong, intelligent and inspiring. We were to meet on Pik Lenina (7134m, Pamirs) later that summer.
2010 Boris Avdeev and I went to Ushba, where I paid my service 5 years after the accident.

Boris Avdeev below Ushba (4710m, Caucasus)

Avner Magen

In May 2010 Avner Magen died in an avalanche in Alaska. Avner and I had summited Pik Korzhenevskaya in 2008, our first 7000m peak. Below my entry from his Memorial Website.

byl na pamir (or "how was it in the pamir") this year?”

You asked me that a few months ago. It was a great adventure! It was one of these adventures full of dreams & expectations, moments so full of deprivations and exhaustion that one questions everything, and days of success when all the questions about the “why” and “what for” are answered. Did I tell you that from the summit we stood on I saw the great Pik Somoni, from the opposite side then we had seen it the year before? It loomed above the clouds that hung over the Academy of Science Range, surpassing everything. Pik Somoni there, and great Tirich Mir on the other side of the horizon.
Do you remember the day when you stepped on the summit of Pik Chetyriokh? Standing above everything and everybody else for a little while? How you first questioned your abilities, doubted that you can make it, but then gave everything, trusted in our roped connection, consumed the
team’s energy, to make it in the end? The day we then summited Pik Korzhenevskaya, that elevating moment when it all makes sense, all of a sudden? And great Pik Somoni – one day, yes, one day!

Our mentalities and backgrounds were so different. I am younger than some of your students! Yet there were no biases, no prejudices from your side whatsoever. You never talked about how great a scientist, researcher and above all teacher you were – unless I asked you, and even then just briefly and then we would often end up talking about something else. About our research activities we have really just learned after we had both returned home. And in the mountains you became an excited student again, keen to learn about high altitude climbing, your body’s response and strategies to make it.
You fully respected me and trusted me in the most challenging situations. This is something I take far from granted, and something I will never forget.

”drop me a line (nothing long…) to tell me of your plans this spring. is it still georgia? I will be going to alaska (ruth gorge) May 23, and will be flying thru vancouver. I don't expect you will be still there, right? do tell me if you are flying thru toronto - will love to meet.”

When you were in Vancouver, I actually was just taking off from Tbilisi/Georgia to head back home to Austria. It was great to see the Caucasus – I say this because I I know you were lucky to have seen the great Caucasus, too! Like so many places you were lucky to have seen. I told you that a photo I took of you in the Pamirs was shown in a photo exhibition in Tbilisi, right? And how I wish I could have met you in Toronto earlier this year as we had planned. I have climbed with quite a few people. Some I climbed with once, some I climbed with again. And then there are a few, with whom I have keep in touch with regularly, also for reasons unrelated to the mountains; they are those I would drop that short line every once in a while to see what is up and how life is. When we would have met in Toronto we would have talked a little about mountains, a little about our research, but also a lot
about all the other things in our lives. And that is remarkable!
Next year I will greet the Pamirs from you. You were a climbing partner, but also a true friend.

Avner Magen descending from Pik Korzhenevskaya (7105m, Pamirs)


Peter Schön is a photographer based in Trondheim/Norway & Tbilisi/Georgia. His passion for photography started in the mountains, during several first ski descents of 5000-6000 m peak in the Andes, Pamir, Tien Shan and South Caucasus. Later, he ventured into documentary photography, with several portfolios about refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) in the South Caucasus.
Peter currently pursues a Ph.D. in Urban form, mobility and CO2 emissions at NTNU Trondheim, and also works as certified ACMG Ski Guide and CAA Level 3 avalanche technician.