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 Elbrus Mount, the highest summit of Europe (5,642 m).
A team of brave adventurers headed by Eugen Staroselsky who managed to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, earlier this year, pulled off what no one did before. They carried a digital piano up to the Elbrus peak.
Tatiana Stupak, gifted pianist and fragile girl, who spearheaded this record-setting campaign, was on the team. After going all the way uphill for 5 hours through massive storm (with gusts of about 60 metres per second) and severe frost (feeling like -30C), she found the strength to perform a couple of musical masterpieces right at the mountain top, namely Beethoven’s Für Elise and Nocturne by Cyprus resident David Pentecost.
Being the highest mountain in Europe, Elbrus is very dangerous to climb. Bad tempers of this giant ruined the dreams of experienced alpinists aspiring to conquer the «Roof of Europe» as well as numerous amateurs who have come there to roll the dice. Getting frostbite, going astray, falling down the rifts hidden under a layer of permafrost are just a few lethal threats facing those trying to climb Elbrus. Not to mention mountain sickness imminent to 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 gate when we arrived to our base camp. We had to stay in a small wagon in the middle of a snow desert without running water or heating. It was equipped with a bunk bed. Electricity was available only for several hours a day. The toilet was outside at the edge of a cliff. But I bet, you get to realise how lucky you are to stay in such a wagon 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 massive wind».
The X Day was preceded by acclimatisation process, as the group consequently made it to the top of Cheget mountain (3,461 m) and Pastukhov Rocks (4,700 m) located at the South side of Elbrus.
The first attempt to climb the Elbrus summit was undertaken on July 24, 2019, just to be aborted by Mother Nature. The team reached the halfway and 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 lightnings. The only right decision, sustained by the Russian Emergency Ministry rescue team’s order, was to head back down to the base camp.
The nature finally extended its merciful hand to Tatiana Stupak and her friends in two days 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) on 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 I rose to such an altitude. I felt very bad. My arms and feet froze, I extremely lacked oxygen. My muscles were fatigued after exhausting acclimatisation trips. The path to the summit was icy and covered with thick snow. But I didn’t give up and pushed forward. I knew that I will 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 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 Russian folk musical instrument known as gusli.
«I am so thankful to our great guide Eugen Staroselsky who carried the digital piano for me up to the Elbrus top. Hopefully, I will climb more mountains together with Eugen. 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.
Tatiana Stupak was born into a non-musical family. Nevertheless, at the age of 2, her father bought her a piano. When she was 5, she started learning at a local music school. But at age 7, her parents were advised to send her to the special music school of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. She studied in the class of Rubina Asya, who had been the very first student at the school, and after graduating, had decided to continue on as a teacher. During her studies, Tatiana won a Bach international competition and an Organ international competition in Russia. Also she gave concerts all over Germany, in Austria and in Russia. After 11 years at the school, she continued her studies at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory in the class of Professor Leonid Sintsev. Tatiana graduated from the Conservatory after 5 years, and moved to Cyprus.
In 2011 a musician friend persuaded her to join the Limassol Pianists’ Circle – a small group of enthusiastic pianists who met a few times each year to play to each other, after practising to improve their playing standards. That group was dissolved in 2012, after which, Tatiana played only occasionally in private to a few friends.
Then early in 2015 she was invited to play by her composer friend David Pentecost at a meeting of the recently formed Music Appreciation Group of C3A Limassol; she accepted, and played at the group’s first live music event held in June at the home of one of its members, who had a fine Steinway grand piano.
This concert was such a success that there was a demand for more live music. David asked Tatiana to play again, this time at his home, for some of his friends. Her performances were very successful, and after some persuasion, she decided to have a public concert. David offered to explore the possibility of her giving public recitals and to help with the necessary administrative tasks.
That was the beginning of her amazing performing career in Cyprus. Apart from other projects, her portfolio includes annual charity concerts held on her birthday, the latest taking place at ancient Kourion (2018) and Limassol Municipal Gardens (2019). On June 12, 2019, Tatiana Stupak was awarded by President Of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades for her outstanding charity activities in Cyprus.