Elbrus Northside Climbers Begin the Climb
We slept contently last night, enjoying the stillness of the mountains after several nights in the city. We awoke to another beautiful day without a cloud to be found in the morning sky. We shouldered our packs and set out of Basecamp. The small climbers trail immediately plunges into a steep gorge, picking its way along the side above the numerous small waterfalls and pools carved by the flowing water. Emerging from the narrow, grassy canyon, we wound our way amongst large, rocky outcroppings. The volcanic rock, jutting out of the rolling landscape, is covered in varying hues of orange, yellow, and green lichen and is quite reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings.
We gradually gained elevation, leaving the grasses and flowers behind. By early afternoon we reached our day’s destination: the rocky morraine about 800’ below Camp 1 on Elbrus. There we cached our loads amongst the rocks. We will retrieve this gear in two days time after we have established ourselves at Camp 1. By “carrying” today to drop our cache, not only did we lighten our packs for tomorrow but we also gave our bodies important exposure to higher elevations before we move up there to sleep - following the climbers’ saying “climb high, sleep low”.
After emptying our packs and resting for a bit we retraced our steps back to Base Camp, returning just as the shepherds brought their flocks of black and white sheep in from the other side of the valley for the evening. Only minutes after we reached the tents the skies, which had grown gradually more imposing throughout the day, finally broke loose in an impressive rain and hail storm. Lucky for us, we relaxed in our tents after a successful day as we listened to the rain patter against the fly.
Tomorrow we are packing up Base Camp and moving up to Camp 1 at over 12,000’. We will check in tomorrow night.
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