Elbrus Northside Climbers Arrive in Base Camp

Posted by: | August 31, 2009
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside
Elevation: 7,200'

Prvyet from Elbrus Northside Basecamp,

We got an early start from Kislovodsk this morning. With our backpacks packed and our street clothes stored away, we piled into the back of an old Soviet-era off road vehicle and headed into the Caucasus. The pavement quickly disappeared only a few minutes outside of town and we began the long, twisting dirt road to Base Camp. The enormous 36” wheels of the former military truck handled the rocks and ruts of the road with ease and we made good progress through the lower slopes of the mountains. Rising gradually from the fertile fields in the heart of Russia, the northern Caucasus steppe is a stunning landscape. The farms and fields slowly give way to grand rolling grasslands, cut by deep canyons, hemmed in by rocky plateaus, and framed by jagged, snow capped peaks. Herds of sheep, cows, and goats wander slowly, feasting on the alpine grass before autumn sets in. And rising above it all stands Mt. Elbrus, it’s twin summits literally shimmering in the clear morning air. The view of the mountain this morning was fantastic and we were thrilled to watch the mountain grow larger as we bounced our way towards it.

After five hours of gradually making our way higher into the mountains on increasingly narrow and eroded roads, we reached Basecamp - a cluster of brightly colored tents at the foot of Elbrus’ flanks. We set up camp, unpacking our climbing gear, taking stock of our food supplies, and keeping an eye on the curious bovines wandering about. Before the afternoon slipped by we headed out on a short walk above Basecamp to stretch our legs.

Back at camp we sat down to a hearty minestrone feast before crawling into the tents for the evening. After days and days of travel from our homes almost a dozen time zones away, it feels great to finally be on the mountain. The team is excited and eager to start our ascent. Tomorrow we are planning to go on an acclimatization hike and cache some of our gear higher up near our next camp. It is an excellent opportunity to get out on the trail and give our legs a shake out while positioning us for a move to the next camp. We will check-in tomorrow night and let you know how it goes.

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