Back to Azau
With the wind and rain pelting the Barrels last night we slept soundly, warm and dry inside our sleeping bags. The skies were again clear in the morning and we enjoyed a cup of coffee admiring the views of the Elbrus coated in a fresh layer of snow.
Before returning to the valley we stopped at a small museum housed in the tram terminal at the top of the ski area. Dedicated to the fighting that took place in this area during WWII, it was strange to look out on the slopes above, now crawling with vacationers and climbers from all corners of the world, and imagine the battlefield it once was as the Russians fought to protect the oil reserves further to the south from advancing German troops.
After returning to the hot showers and flip flops that awaited us in Azau. Freshly showered and reveling in the feel of cotton, we found our way to an amusing little restaurant nearby in the village of Terskol. Before we could eat, we first grabbed fishing poles and threw in our hooks. Sara once again proved her boundless skills and landed the first fish. Twenty minutes later we sat down to a delicious meal of fresh fish and salads, a change of pace from the Cliff Bars we’ve been eating on the trail.
The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing the stalls of local women selling woolen shawls, hats, and other souvenirs from the area. We ended the day with a celebration dinner in a local cafe alongside a group of Irish climbers bent on proving their drinking prowess to the Russian hosts.
Since we didn’t use our weather day on the mountain we are going to explore more of the Baksan Valley tomorrow, relaxing and enjoying some down time before departing for Moscow on Friday.
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