Entries By linden mallory

Mt. Elbrus: Mallory & Team Settle in at 12,000’

Posted by: Linden Mallory | July 11, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Southside
Elevation: 12,000'

The thick rain clouds that have been covering the region for the last several days began to dissipate overnight. Leaving our hotel this morning, the sky above was a patchy mix of clouds and blue sky. We loaded our mountain gear into our van and made the ten minute drive up the valley to the tiny village of Azau. In Azau we hauled our gear from the van and through the base terminal of the tram station. A few minutes later the red cabin dropped down from the station above and we piled our team and gear into the tram.

We made two tram rides, going from the green valley floor to the top station, sitting on a rocky morraine along the edges of Elbrus’ glaciers. To get our gear the final 700’ we took turns loading our duffels, packs, and climbers onto a little single seater chairlift. Despite the slow moving chairs it was still a tricky transfer to put on and pull off the bags from the chairs as they swung by.

Nevertheless, it was a smooth process and by midday we were settled into out bunks in the Garabashi Huts, a series of old diesel tanks that have been converted into bunk rooms. Despite the long cylindrical shape, they are quite comfortable inside, especially when the hail and rain starts up outside.

After a great lunch of borsch, meats, cheeses, and French toast we set off on an acclimatization hike. The clouds once again settled onto the mountain, although with no moisture in them. We climbed for a couple of hours, ascending the glacier right above the hut and getting used to hiking in climbing boots and traveling on snow. After reaching just over 13,000’ we turned around and descended back to the hut.

We are resting in the huts now before dinner. Everyone climbed well today, making the transition from low elevation trails to the high altitude snows well. After close to a week of traveling to reach this mountain, we are happy to be here and comfortable in the huts. Tomorrow we are planning on making our final acclimatization hike up to Pastuhkova Rocks at 15,000’ before resting on Friday. We will check-in when we return from the hike.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Garabashi Hut on Mt. Elbrus.  Photo: RMI Collection The chairlift on Mt. Elbrus.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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Mt. Elbrus: Mallory & Team Acclimatize at Base of Mt. Elbrus

Posted by: Linden Mallory | July 10, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Southside
Elevation: 12,000'

We woke to the steady patter of rain falling on the village of Cheget this morning. The clouds hung low in the valley, all of the mountains above still obscured. But to the west the clouds were thinning and the rain let up as soon as we finished breakfast. We left the hotel and walked over to the base of the ski lifts to catch a ride higher into the mountains. We hopped onto the lift, each chair painted a different color, and slowly rose into the clouds. At one point the lift stretched across a high point and all we could see was the little yellow and red chairs bouncing along into a sea of grey. By the time we passed the switched lifts at the mid station the clouds began to part and soon the views were improving.

Near 10,000’ we unloaded from the lifts and began hiking above the resort towards the summit of Peak Cheget. We navigated the narrow climbers’ trail, scrambling across the big rock slabs and over boulders, quickly gaining altitude on the narrow ridge. The weather continued to improve and we were soon shedding our rain jackets in favor of sunglasses. Close to 11,500’ the skies briefly parted and we caught our first views of Mt. Elbrus across the valley. The view was fleeting, as the window in the clouds quickly closed, but we were able to see our entire route to the summit.

By midday we reached the summit of Peak Cheget near 12,000’. The change in altitude from Moscow (~500’) was noticeable, but everyone on the team felt strong. We stayed on the summit for a few minutes before descending back down the trail to the lifts and returning to town for the afternoon.

We spent the rest of the day sorting and organizing our gear in anticipation of moving onto the mountain. Tomorrow we head up to our hut along the edges of Mt. Elbrus’ glaciers where we will spend the next four nights. We are excited about getting on the mountain and looking forward to trading our hiking shoes for climbing boots and crampons. We will check in tomorrow from the Garabashi Hut.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

The team ascending Peak Cheget.  Photo: LInden Mallory Looking down into the Baksan Valley.  Photo: Linden Mallory The team on the summit of Peak Cheget.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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Mt. Elbrus: Mallory & Team Head into the Caucasus Mountains

Posted by: Linden Mallory | July 09, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Southside
Elevation: 7,500'

We left Moscow early this morning, leaving the city’s quiet streets behind for the forest of pine that surround Moscow’s Domodevo Airport. The calm morning was broken as soon as we arrived at the airport, with travelers packing the main terminal trying to check-in for their flights. With plenty of time to navigate the crowds, we found our check in counter and meandered through the serpentine line to the front, doing our best to keep our towering carts of climbing gear from toppling over on the unsuspecting passerby. Despite the complete language barrier checking in for our flight was smooth and easy and before long we were climbing the steps into our neon green 737 for the flight to Mineralnye Vody.

The two and a half hour flight took us from Moscow south across the farmland of central Russia to the foothills of the Caucasus. Thankfully all of our bags appeared on the carousel in Mineralnye Vody and we shouldered our duffel bags and navigated the chaotic parking lot outside to our van (conveniently parked, we all noted, in the farthest possible point from the door of the baggage claim). After cramming all of our duffel bags and 9 passengers into the narrow van, we took off down the highway bound for the mountains.

The drive from Mineralnye Vody to the village of Cheget in the Baksan Valley with the base of Mt. Elbrus took about 3.5 hours and brought us from the busy agricultural centers near the airport deep into the heart of the Caucasus. In the small towns on the way to the mountain we passed little markets and stores spilling out onto the streets, dozens of errant cows lounging in the roadway, and a tungsten mine and former factory used in the Soviet Space Program, long since shut down and now in the process of being reclaimed by the forest.The recent rains in the area still left thick clouds hanging throughout the peaks when we reached the little ski town of Cheget. We have yet to catch a view of the high Caucasus or Mt. Elbrus, but the clouds started to thin as we finished dinner and we are hopeful that the views will prove more rewarding tomorrow on our acclimatization hike.

We are staying in a small ski lodge at the base of the Cheget ski resort, where we will be until Wednesday. The rooms are comfortable and the food hearty. We are all very pleased to be in the mountains and looking forward to our hike tomorrow.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

View of sunset on the mountains above Cheget.

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Mt. Elbrus: Mallory & Team Sightseeing in Moscow

Posted by: Linden Mallory | July 08, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Southside

We spent the day visiting the heart of Moscow today, walking through places familiar from a lifetime of hearing their names but only witnessing for the first time - Red Square, Kremlin, Bolshoy…

We left the hotel this morning and crossed the two bridges spanning the Moscow River and walked along the walls of the Kremlin until we reached Red Square. After wandering through the area for a bit we met our Tour Guide, Nina, for a tour of the city. In fluent English tinted by a distinct Russian accent, she spent the next three hours recounting stories, history, and significances of the many places we bounced between. First walking around St. Basil’s Cathedral, the ornately decorated church on the south side of Red Square, we then passed through the GUM Department Store, the beautiful former Soviet State Store now turned luxury shopping mall. Between the stores full of familiar Western brands - Levi’s, Prada, Jaques Cartier - she also recounted her personal experiences transitioning from Communist Russia to life in Moscow today, explaining the differences in food choices to retirement.

Across from the Bolshoy theater we descended into Moscow’s subway system, hopping trains between several of the impressively ornate underground stations, many covered with mosaics, frescos, and hanging crystal chandeliers, before emerging into the sunlight back at the entrance to the Kremlin. We then walked beneath the thick red brick walls into the center of the Kremlin, passing throughout the churches and monuments in the heart of the Russian Government.

By late afternoon we returned to the hotel and spent a few hours of down time before dinner, trying to shake the last of the jet lag. Tomorrow we leave Moscow and fly to the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains to reach the foot of Mt. Elbrus. The team enjoyed Moscow and we are excited to head into the mountains and begin the climbing.

We will check in tomorrow from our hotel in the Baksan Valley.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

The team on the streets of Moscow. St. Basil's Cathedral near Moscow's Red Square as seen on our Moscow City Tour

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Elbrus Expedition: Mallory & Team Arrive in Moscow

Posted by: Linden Mallory | July 07, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Southside

Dobrye Veycher from Moscow! The RMI Mt. Elbrus Team arrived into Moscow throughout the day today, making the hour long drive from the airport to our hotel in the heart of the city, across the Moscow River from the Kremlin. With climbers coming in from all over the globe, it has been a long couple of days of traveling for the team and we had a mellow evening, finding dinner in a small restaurant down the street from the hotel.

This far north, it is still daylight at 10:30pm as we turn in for the evening. We are excited to be here and looking forward to exploring Moscow tomorrow, visiting the city’s most famous sites - from Red Square to St. Basil’s Cathedral to the Kremlin. We will check in tomorrow after our city tour.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Walls around the Kremlin

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Back in Kathmandu!

Posted by: Linden Mallory | April 04, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 4383

We woke up to the sound of rain pounding on the roof and a sinking feeling descended over me: rain meant cloudy weather and no flights into Lukla and I began to wonder if we would be forced to spend the day waiting for clearer skies in order to fly back to Kathmandu. I hesitantly looked out of the window of the teahouse and much to my relief it was only a light rain falling from a thin layer of clouds above. By the time we packed up our bags and sat down for breakfast the skies cleared and soon airplanes began making the harrowing approach into the narrow strip of runway in Lukla. 

After wrapping up breakfast we said goodbye to our porters and Sherpa staff and walked the hundred yards up the trail into the Lukla airport where we checked in for our flight. We reweighed all of our bags, once again amazed at the loads our porters were able to carry for the duration of our trek, and then found a seat in the waiting area. Every loud roar accompanying the landing of an airplane we would jump up to stare out the window to see if the plane arriving was ours. Finally, after a couple of planes came and went the green tail of our Tara Air appeared on the runway and and we lined up outside of the idling aircraft to take our seats.

The flight back to Kathmandu lacked the views of our flight in and the plane was forced to take a long route around all of the clouds already building by mid morning before we finally began the descent back into Kathmandu. We landed safely and stepped out into the thick and warm air of the city, a very different feel than the mountains above. Once all of our gear was loaded into the back of the van we set out for our hotel. Needless to say, the melee of cars, motorbikes, horns, buildings, and throngs of people is a radical change from the relative quiet and calm of the Khumbu and it is taking us a good bit to make the shift back into the scene here in Kathmandu.

We arrived at our hotel but not all of the rooms were ready so we sat down next to the pool behind and ordered lunch: fresh salads, vegetables, and burgers (even in Nepal!). It was a feast. We then turned our attention to showers and clean clothes - another luxury for us. By late afternoon, showered and dressed in fresh clothes, we headed into Thamel, the heart of Kathmandu, and spent a few hours wandering the streets and taking in the scene. It feels great to be back in Kathmandu but hard to believe our adventures are over; we’ve settled into our trail and routine and it’s a bit strange to not have to wake up tomorrow, pack the duffel bag, and start walking. It’s going to take a bit to readjust. We are heading out for our celebration dinner tonight, looking forward to another good meal. Tomorrow is our contingency day, just in case weather prevented us from moving at some point during the trip, and we are using it to check out a few of the sites in Kathmandu before our flight home the following day. The team is all excited to get home and share their stories, thanks to everyone for following along with us.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Long and Rainy Walk Back to Lukla

Posted by: Linden Mallory | April 03, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 9,350'

A forest fire burning lower in the valley gave the skies a light haze this morning over Namche and we could catch glimpses of the smoke rising from the valley sides further down as we left our teahouse. It was warm as we walked out of Namche and descended the hill to the valley floor but by the time we reached the bottom, clouds crept up the valley to block out the sun. As we crossed the suspension bridge above the river the first few droplets of rain began to fall. Soon the rain was falling in force and thunder echoed in the mountains above, and the smoke from the fire began to dissipate. We walked through the villages below Namche, crossing back and forth across the river on suspension bridges, while the rain came and went. Before long thunder was rolling through with hardly a pause between claps and we sought refuge in the nearest shelter we could find, piling into a tiny shack on the side of the trail already full of porters also seeking refuge. 

Sitting crammed in the one room building, we sipped some tea heated up on a fire nearby as the thunder and lightning passed over us and faded away higher up the valley. Once all we could hear was a light rain pattering on the roof we set out on the trail again, picking our way down the trail as we skirted the small streams and puddles forming in our path. We made steady progress back down the valley, finally pausing in the village of Phakding for lunch. The rain kept coming down and we sat around the stove in the teahouse doing our best to dry out as we ate lunch. When we set out and the rain was letting up; with every step we made closer to Lukla the clouds seemed to rise equally as well. Soon we could see the fresh snow covering the base of the peaks above and all of the fields around shone a brilliant green with the arrival of spring in the lower Khumbu Valley. The cherry trees, rhododendron, and piries janponica trees were all in full bloom - pink, red, and white flowers dotted the trees bordering the fields and we kept pausing to take it all in. 

By late afternoon we climbed the final rocky steps of the trail and walked into Lukla. We found our teahouse and shed our packs and damp gear, finally reaching the end of the trail. We are happy to be warm and dry again after the many hours of walking in the rain today and if the weather cooperates and the clouds continue to lift we hope to catch an early morning flight back to Kathmandu tomorrow. It is a bit strange not to have more trail to cover tomorrow but we are excited to get back to Kathmandu and keeping our fingers crossed for clear skies so we can fly out!

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Baby Yaks in Namche this morning. Photo: Linden Mallory Crossing the suspension bridge below Namche.Photo: Linden Mallory The team walking through Lukla after a wet day on the trail. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Linden Recounts Summit Day

Posted by: Linden Mallory | April 01, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 12,700'

The days since our last dispatch were packed full of activity as we headed out to climb Island Peak. After saying goodbye to the trekking group, we walked up the Imja Khola Valley to the village of Chukung, a small collection of teahouses sitting between Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Island Peak. Our teahouse is run by a Sherpani woman and her two daughters and they welcomed us warmly, feeding us a hearty dal bhat (Nepali rice and lentils) which we unanimously agreed is the best to be found in the Khumbu. Before going to sleep we pared down our gear in anticipation of the climb, taking with us just the gear we needed for the climb.

In the morning we left Chukung and made the final walk to the base of Island Peak. A sharp wind blew as we walked, making the morning feel much colder than it was, and we made our way through the dusty and rocky terrain bundled up to stay warm. We reached Base Camp by midday and settled into our tents there, enjoying the warmth of the sun through the tent walls. The wind died off by mid afternoon and we spent a comfortable evening in the tents at Base Camp.

The following morning broke clear but again with a cold wind blowing through camp. We packed up our gear and headed up to High Camp. The trail climbs steeply out of camp, making tight switchbacks up the hillside. The thin alpine grasses covering the ground soon gave away to rocks and boulders as we left the last sparse vegetation behind. High Camp is tucked into the rocks on the mountain side just below 18,000’ and the walking between tents required full attention, especially at those altitudes. We spent the rest of the afternoon resting and preparing for the climb. In the early evening the clouds descended over the mountain and left a thin layer of snow covering everything and we went to bed concerned that more snow could abort our summit attempt.

Thankfully the night sky full of stars greeted us when we woke up just before 2am, the climb was on! We forced down a quick breakfast, no easy task at that hour or that elevation, and set off. The first few hours of climbing took us up a series of steep rocky gullies and occasional ledges. The normally tricky walking was magnified by the layer of freshly fallen snow but we made good progress, reaching the toe of the glacier just after sunrise. We strapped on our crampons and climbed up and across the glacier to the base of the headwall below Island Peak’s summit. Clipping into the fixed lines there, we climbed our way up the headwall, crossing the bergshcrund and working our way up the steep icy face. The headwall was a mix of smooth ice and ledges several feet apart and it was difficult climbing, especially with no place to pause and catch our breaths. Nevertheless, the team climbed steadily and before long we stood on the ridge leading up the summit. The final hundred feet of climbing took us up a narrow snow ridge, with thousands of feet of exposure on each side, until we reached the top, a small flat area no bigger than the size of a pool table.

The views from the summit were incredible, the ridge between Lhotse and Nuptse rising directly behind us, Makalu visible in the distance, Ama Dablam off to the side, and the entire upper portion of the Khumbu Valley running out below us. After a brief moment to celebrate, we turned our attention to the descent, carefully picking our way down the ridge to the top of the headwall. As we clipped into the ropes to rappel down the headwall the snow once again began to fall and the temperatures dropped, making the rope changes at the end of each rappel section difficult with cold hands. We slowly made our way down the series of five rappels to the foot of the headwall, and then recrossed the glacier back to the rocks. The final portion of the descent was very challenging with the added snow and tired legs but everyone traveled remarkably well, crossing the slick rock slabs and descending the rock steps with sure feet.

We returned back to High Camp in the late afternoon and after a delicious dinner, collapsed into a deep night’s sleep. This morning we descended from High Camp back to Chukung where we paused for a lunch of Sherpa Stew (thick vegetable soup) and then continued down the valley to Pangboche, at 12,700’. The change of scenery from the rocks and snow on Island Peak to the fields and juniper trees here in Pangboche is remarkable, we have spent many days up high and being back down at these (relatively) low altitudes feels great. And the warm fire burning here in the teahouse is a true treat. The team climbed incredibly well on Island Peak, doing a great job of navigating the terrain and challenging conditions. We are all feeling good and happy to be heading downhill. We descend to Namche tomorrow and will check in from there.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Climbing through the rocks at dawn. Photo: Linden Mallory Approaching the toe of the glacier. Photo: Linden Mallory The team on top! Photo: Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Linden and Team Summit Island Peak!

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 31, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 20,300'

Hey RMI. This is Linden Mallory calling from Island Peak High Camp. We touched the top today. We had a pretty phenomenal climb. Everybody made it, 100% success! The morning started out clear. We had beautiful stars as we were climbing. Nice morning sun. And then right as we started down, we had more snow. Keeps snowing pretty consistently since early this afternoon. The afternoon made the descent a little tricky with all that new snow on top of the rock, but the team did well. We handled it without too many problems and now we are looking forward to heading downhill tomorrow. We will be down lower in the valley tomorrow and will try and send out some photos and a written account. So that’s the news. We’re all really happy about the climb and happy to be down. And looking forward to getting out of here. Take care.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Waking up for the summit bid at High Camp. Photo: Linden Mallory Ascending the final summit ridge. Photo: Linden Mallory


Linden Mallory and the Island Peak team summit!

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Linden & Team Going for Island Peak Summit in the Morning

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 30, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 17,600'

Hey RMI, this is Linden Mallory calling from Island Peak High Camp. Just over 17,600’ or so. We moved up here this morning and got settled in. Our weather this morning is a little breezy but not clouds. This afternoon some clouds rolled in. A little bit of new snow but it appears to be letting up. We are just about to have dinner and headed off to bed. Planning on going for the summit tomorrow. It appears that the new snow should not be much of an issue. We are looking forward to it. Everyone’s feeling great. The altitude is treating us well. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed and keeping warm and dry. We’ll check in tomorrow and let you know how the climb goes. Take care.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Island Peak - Team going for summit in the morning.


Linden Mallory checks in from Island Peak High Camp.

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