Photographs by Mikhail Vershinin

    If a parallel world does exist, you will find it here at the Krasnoyarsk Stolby Nature Reserve. The huge intricately shaped stony blocks rise amid a thick forest reaching up to 100 meters in height, and aged more than 600 million years. 

    Krasnoyarsk Stolby Nature Reserve. Photo by Mikhail Vershinin

    This place was discovered by Russian Cossacks in 1624. The explorers of Siberia gave them the name “Stolpy”, later reduced to “Stolby” from Russian “stolb” – the pillar.

    Krasnoyarsk Stolby. Photo by Mikhail Vershinin

    The Nature Reserve was founded in 1925. The total area of the park is 47,219 hectares.

    Every rock has its unique name such as Ded ("Grandfather"), Perja ("Plumage"), Lvinnyje vorota ("Lions Gate"), Golubye katushki ("Blue coils"), Dymokhod ("Stovepipe").

    Stolbists. Krasnoyarsk Stolby. Photo by Mikhail Vershinin

    It is hard to overestimate the beauty and majesty of this place; however, the strength of its “aura” is not in the unique and breathtaking landscapes, it is rather in the way of living of people called themselves “stolbists”. 

    Unlike an ordinary rock climber authentic “stolbist” conquers a rock or a vertical rock face without ropes, hooks or any other type of belaying equipment. This is a skill the Krasnoyarsk rock climbers have mastered over the years. 

    There is an entire philosophy of stolbizm based on friendship and active socializing. Stolbists have their own communities, called “companies”, with names such as “Griffins” or “Abreks,” taken from the names of 19th-century guerillas in the Caucasus. Many companies had their log houses (the izbas) near or on the rocks. 

    For example, the Griffins’ house is located on the top of a cliff that is 50 meters high, one of the faces of which is vertical. The izba was built in 1962. It has a capacity for up to 50 (!) people.

    Izba. Krasnoyarsk Stolby. Photo by Mikhail Vershinin