Climbers move to Garabashi Hut
Thunderstorms rolled into the Baksan Valley last night as we ate dinner, temporarily cutting the power, but again the morning broke clear, with a few scattered clouds dispersed across the sky. We packed up our bags and left our hotel, climbing onto the first tram of the morning with all of our gear for the mountain. Two tram rides and another rickety single seat chairlift later we reached the toe of the glacier.
Perched along a fin of rock jutting uphill into the glacier sits the Garabashi Huts, also known as the Barrel Huts. Consisting of several massive fuel barrels retrofitted into bunk rooms and painted in the colors of the Russian flag, the collection is a bit odd looking compared to the alpine huts most of us are used to. But when the winds start to blow nothing could be more inviting up here.
After setting in we headed out for a small acclimatization hike, climbing up the glacier a ways, getting ourselves back in the habit of walking on snow and giving our bodies good exposure to still higher elevations. Above us Elbrus’ twin summits danced in and out of the clouds whirling around them.
Returning to the huts for lunch, we watched the clouds descend down the mountain, growing ever darker and occasionally spitting rain on us as the afternoon progressed. But by early evening they once again dispersed and the skies have cleared, giving us gorgeous views across the Caucasus into Georgia, the peaks illuminated in evening light.
Tomorrow we will head out on a more substantial acclimatization hike before returning to rest at the Barrels. We will check in tomorrow night.
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