Elbrus Northside Climbers Reach High Camp

Posted by: | September 06, 2009
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside

Hello from high camp!

The clear skies that formed yesterday held throughout the night and we woke to a perfectly bluebird day. Eager to take advantage of the weather, we wolfed down breakfast, broke down camp, packed our backpacks and headed out onto the glacier. Despite spending yesterday off of our feet in camp waiting out the winds we quickly found our climbing rhythm again and made great time as we ascended. By noon we reached our previous high point where we cached on Friday. There we found our gear, covered in a thin layer of ice from yesterday’s winds, still lashed down amongst the rocks. A falcon, doubtlessly lured by our treats saved for summit day, was curiously snooping about when we arrived but took off after catching site of our band of Gore-Tex clad climbers. Thankfully the duffel bag that held everything kept the raptor at bay and we loaded the last of our gear into our packs for the final hour’s climb into high camp.

As we reached camp the low valley clouds, fueled by the midday heat, swirled up about us, at times blanketing us in a calm fog, other times parting to reveal the rest of the mountain looming above us. High camp sits at 15,200’ perched amongst a band of black volcanic rocks running down from the east summit known as Lenz Rocks. Camp is quite exposed to Elbrus’ infamous winds so we devoted a good amount of energy to establishing camp. As the clouds danced around us we went to work, chopping the ice out of the tent platforms, bolstering rock walls, and securely anchoring the tents. By mid-afternoon we were comfortably settled in our tents, sipping on water and doing our best to enjoy the rarified air of 15,200’ and we had a couple of hours to rest and recover before dinner. As the evening shadows grew long off of the rock pinnacles standing guard above our tents we shared a hearty meal of vegetable lasagna before retiring to the sleeping bags for the night.

Tomorrow we are planning to make our summit bid for Elbrus, leaving camp around first light. We will traverse below the east summit to the saddle at over 17,500’ and then climb to the west summit. We are hoping to be standing on the highest point in Russia and all of Europe by around noon local time, about 1 am (Pacific) Monday morning. The team is feeling strong and excited about tomorrow’s endeavor. Keep your fingers crossed that our perfect weather holds!

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