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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We’re glad you (and all your bags) made it to Cheget. Climb safely! We’ll keep checking in on the blog for updates.

Posted by: Kristin PIngree on 7/9/2012 at 10:28 pm

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