Gear Cached at High Camp

Posted by: | September 04, 2009
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside
Elevation: 12,300'

Hello from Elbrus -

The almost full moon shone brightly last night, transforming the rock morraine in which we are camped into a vague silvery landscape of shapes and shadows. By the time we awoke they were all gone, replaced by long morning shadows and the warmth of the early light. After breakfast, we packed up our packs, donned our crampons and harnesses and headed out onto the glacier.

The climbing out of Camp 1 is a long, gradually steepening ascent straight towards Elbrus’ East Summit. We climbed well, the team falling immediately into the rhythm of climbing as a rope team. By midday we had navigated our way through a small series of crevasses, switchbacked up the broad northeastern shoulder of the mountain, and reached a small outcropping of rocks at an elevation of about 14,200’. From there we were witness to impressive views of the eastern Caucasus, catching glimpses of jagged snowcapped peaks that straddle the border with Georgia. Above us, the clouds and winds that scoured the upper reaches of the mountain all day held their distance and we were treated to a calm break. Amongst the rocks we cached the food and fuel we will need for our upcoming summit bid before heading back down the mountain, chased by the clouds and wind from above that just nipped at our heels, never fully engulfing us.

Back at camp, we relaxed in the warm sun for the rest of the afternoon, watching the fascinating cloud cap on Elbrus appear over the mountain’s twin summits. With the weather coming straight out of the south today the wind was splitting when it hit Elbrus, pushing clouds down both the east and west sides of the mountain. From our perspective on the north side the clouds appeared to literally boil out of Elbrus’ top before flowing down the sides of the mountain and dissolving. It was an incredible sight.

The winds picked up a bit in the evening as we wrapped up dinner and headed for the tents. As we turn in for the evening the tent walls rattle and shake, making the warmth of a down sleeping bag that much more inviting. Tomorrow we are planning to move to high camp in preparation for a hopeful summit bid the following day. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

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