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GES231 - Unfinished Command Bunker, Kiev

On our first night in the Capital, we met up with GE084, who kindly gave us a tour of the city highlights, and some quick explore tips. Like the fact most apartment blocks seem to have ladders to the roof. Although most of the interesting ones had had the bottom 10ft removed, making them a challenge to unprepared foreign explorers. One place we were shown was here. Tucked away amongst apartment blocks, it's in a rather surprising area, and has been there for some time. However it's not for me to give it's location away, so I'll shut up on that front.

The second night we were there, we opted to give it a go. So we scoped the place out in the early hours. All seemed good and quiet, no one obviously watching from the windows. No one about. I wanted to have someone watch the side of the site, to make sure no one came, but GE002 and GE074 were adamant we should just all go for it together. So we did. Crunching stealthfully through the deep creaking snow. We got to the point where we would have to climb up, and GE074 being the most nimble, went for it. Unfortunately, and out of nowhere at 2am, a group of bin men came down the side alley. GE074 froze, and went unnoticed. unnoticed until somehow a row of huge icicles next to him decided to drop off. Then all hell broke out. All the time we assumed the bin men were connected to the site, and we legged it. GE002 and I ran through the site looking for an exit. All we did was run into the chap looking after it and his mutts. Said mutts joined the chase. We came to a fence and bolted over it. For awhile we had no idea where GE074 was or whether he got away. So we hung out on the main drag a few blocks away. We got a text from GE074, 'where are you?' And we all linked back up. He managed to get out the way we'd gone in. I was impressed by his speed. I did smugly raise the point that if someone was watching the road on the side of the site as i'd suggested, this would have been avoided. But it oddly fell on deaf ears! It was then a slow trudge back to the hostel.

We came back the following day, thinking we could make another stab at it during the day. We had little else to do. So cue 3 hours stood around an adult playground/gym, waiting for locals to clear ice from balconies, cops to leave, snow clearers to leave, people turning up to some crappy horror museum... You get the idea. It was never going to happen. We met up with GE087 and GE088 later that evening, along with another guy who seemed to explore in a nice pair of leather shoes. Having not got in the previous night, we got the impression they thought we were numpties, and were reluctant to share anything of striking interest with us. This was compounded when we went in, as GE002 and I looked like idiots trying to climb up an ice covered girder support. Slipping off and failing to get the vital grip. We both looked at each other with 'we look like tits' expressions. I managed to dig out a bit of ice, and got the vital grip point I needed, and was quickly scampering to the upper level. GE002 followed. GE088 and GE074 sat sniggering from behind the fence. They took a slightly more risky route up a girder. I should point out that this was ice and snow free, and much easier!

We were constantly told to be quiet and no torch light. As we tip-toed towards the vent shaft, the guy with the leather shoes went first and disappeared somewhere below. Having done a lot of exploring in situations requiring lack of light, I was used to feeling my way around in the dark. GE002 wasn't. It turned out to be similar to a tube shaft in London. Basically you have rungs to descend on, and round holes and large bolts to use as grip points. The first bit involved stepping onto a beam, and crawling under the start point onto the vent wall. I kept tapping the beam for him, but he couldn't see it. He must have been looking at a brighter spot, as his eyes hadn't adjusted. Finally he got it sorted, and we were merrily climbing down the tube wall. For anyone that's explored with GE002, they'll know this was not quite the case! After descending about 10m of vent wall, we got onto the top of a set of ladders and landings, that went down to the bottom of the shaft. I say bottom, there are two levels at the bottom. The penultimate level had tracks on it, and lead towards the main bunker area. These are the tracks leading up to the lift at the back of the photo. The lift sits in the shaft we'd just descended.

Off to the left in the picture above was this store room full of rusty goodness.

180 degrees from the shot above of the lift shaft, the tunnel had some old carts in it. On the right from here is the storage room above.

Before exploring down the tracks above, GE088 showed us the actual bottom of the vent. It had two directions to go in one tunnel. At one end was this large steel blast door. We couldn't go any further, because just inside were a set of alarms, waiting to be triggered by the unwary.

The shaft descending into the middle of the short tunnel. The blast door above is behind the camera here. The lights are from the others checking out the other end of the tunnel. This side we were told lead to the metro, however there were alarms here too. For the last few years the locals had been pouring into the metro system, with group sizes up to 15 some times! A couple of busts, and the security got clamped down.

We climbed back up, and passed the trucks seen on the tracks above. I usually light paint from a fixed position behind the camera, however I watched the more experienced GE002 light painting. He walked along with the torch, shielding it from the camera. This was my first attempt at walking with the torch. As you can see I mistimed the 30 seconds and appear in the shot at the end, along with burnt light on the tunnel wall.

The tunnel going forward took various forms, here it's a small section of steel, and then concrete. The precarious tracks still rolling on.

Finally we made it to the actual command bunker. It's hard to get scale, but the ventilation pipe running along the left wall is about 2m high. This would have been divided into 3 levels had it been completed. The bunker sits parallel to the main metro tracks, as do a number of bunkers on this system, and other soviet systems. Apparently there's a bigger one than this in Moscow, where else, that has 5 levels!

This is a shot from the far end of the bunker, roughly 100m long. The back of the photo is where the shot above was taken.

Halfway up the main bunker seen above, was a short 30m tunnel off to the side. It still had a trolley on the rails.

At the end of the tunnel there were two doors, blocked from opening by a pile of rocks. As we stood looking through the gaps, we could see the tantalising train tracks of the live Metro on the other side. As we looked, a heavy set chap in camouflage walked along a walkway above the tracks. We collectively pulled back from the gates and sat in silence.

That was all there was to see, so we headed back out. We got up into the above ground site, and tip toed to our out points.

We all got out, and went off into the night. Finally doing something pretty cool while in town. Before coming to Kiev, I had marked out some possibilities for accessing the metro. I talked to GE088 about one of the portals I'd looked at from a bridge. He gave a few extra pieces of advice once inside the portal. So GE074, GE002 & I hailed a cab to drop us off in an isolated looking area of the city. It was snowing quite hard and pretty cold, but not Arctic cold. We wandered across the bridge and hopped onto the tracks. Our first proper experience of the metro here. We carefully followed the edge down to the portal, which was also a station. As we got closer I spotted movement. On closer inspection it was obvious that two people were clearing snow off the platform. We sat for awhile in the snow and cold wind from the river below us, but it looked obvious the snow cleaners were going to be there awhile. GE002 and GE074 tried again the following night, but it was a similar scene. Bum!

Thanks to GE084 and GE088 for being pleasant chaps and enlightening people to explore with. Thanks to GE074 and GE002 for groovyness.