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Ukraine

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About Ukraine:

OVERVIEW
As of today, Ukraine is not exactly the climber's first-choice destination, however it has things to offer to travelers off the beaten track. It is also a treasure for the explorers of what a post-Soviet country could be like, a very special middle ground between what is usually considered the First and the Third-World country on this planet.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS
02 will get you the police and 03 the ambulance.
8+0+city code will help you dial inside the country.
38+0+city code is Ukraine's code when dialing from abroad.

CLIMBING REGIONS
Before starting your journey, remember that Ukraine is the second largest (after Russia) country in Europe, with over 1000km of coastline (Black Sea), 1316 km (818 mi) East to West and 893 km (555 mi) North to South. The capital and largest city is Kyiv in Ukrainian or Kiev in Russian. Here you go with one of the always on-going problems for the recently independent (1991, August 24th being the national holiday) country - Russian is spoken by the majority of the population in the East and Ukrainian, a similar language with same slavic origins, in the West. It has become popular to speak Ukrainian with the Orange revolution of 2004, but that seems to be a dying trend so far. Do explore further Ukraine's fascinating history before going to better understand its constant East/West frictions and geo-political issues.

Coming back to climbing - or rather geography, Ukraine is mainly flat and famous for its fertile plains - at least that's what the legends say before the Soviets started messing with kolgosps and technology. The break-down for climbing regions follows thus this order - first we start with various regions in Crimea, then we cover a couple of big cities (mainly climbing gyms), and Western Ukraine for some rock around the Carpathians.

The biggest Ukraine's attraction climbing-wise is the Crimea peninsula. It features a sub-tropical climate very close to the one on the coasts of the Mediterranean sea and a similar proliferation of limestone crags - even mountains for some mountaineering challenges for the willing. The highest summit is Roman Kosh at 1545 meters though, so mountaineering is maybe a strong term to use in this case. See our Crimea region description for further details. If you want to find more first-hand information about climbing and lodging or hire a guide, visit the website of a local private mountain guide Sergey Sorokin...

Ukraine also boasts a not-so-tall mountain chain called Carpathians in the West, with the highest peak being Hoverla. It culminates at 2061 meters, a bit like Mt Washington on the US East Coast without the extreme weather. Carpathians are a follow-up chain to Polish and Slovakian Tatras - unfortunately much less rocky. They do offer some skiing possibilities, but alpine adventurers will have to seek hard to find any bit of rock or ice outcrops. Careful though, as often avalanches do occur in winter, and even during summer getting up Hoverla might prove troublesome. The best climbing spot in the West is Dovbushevi Skalu, rock outcrops up to 45 meters tall in the pre-carpathians with interesting sandstone moves all around.

You can find further climbing (mainly in gyms) in or around the main cities like Kyiv, or Odessa.

SEASON AND CLIMATE
Climate is temperate continental on the mainland and subtropical on the Crimea peninsula. Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland and summers are warm across the greater part of the country, hot in the south. Average temperature of January is -7 C in the northeast of Ukraine and +4C on the southern coast of Crimea, average temperature for July is +19C and +24 C respectively.

Here you can find a weather summary for the major cities. Here is another one for Crimea.

RATINGS AND GUIDEBOOKS
Ratings usually use French difficulty scale.

Concerning guidebooks, so far I haven't seen any in English - for Crimea, you can find info on Mountain.ru and some Russian guidebooks (see further info by region).

WHAT'S ON THE WEB
ExtremeUA has a forum and climbing news for Ukraine - mainly in Russian though. For example here you can find a list of climbing walls - mainly for Kyiv.
Mountain.ru has become a Russian-speaking reference site for all climbing-related, mountaineering and rock climbing included. It does have an English section, but rather limited. It has a very active forum and good descriptions - especially for Crimea - language might be a barrier though.
Lviv Inturtrans offers cheap bus travel to/from and inside the country as does Eurolines. Unfortunately cheap air tickets do not exist so far - your best bet is to go to Warsaw and figure it out from there (bus, train, auto-stop...).
A friend's photo website is here to give you some ideas what a Hutsul might look like or what you should expect to see in the city or in a Ukrainian village.

Please keep in mind that this is a work in progress and feel free to pm me with any suggestions or errors you may notice - yours, uasunflower.