Entries from Elbrus Northside
August 4, 2017
After the bustle of Moscow and several days of traveling, it’s a bit of a relief to finally be at Mt. Elbrus Base Camp! We had a pretty relaxed departure from Kislovodsk this morning, stopping at our outfitter’ s home to leave some city cloths, before climbing into our driver Alexi’s tricked out four wheel drive sprinter van knockoff and heading for Base Camp. We started putting our tents up as the first drops began to fall. Before long things ramped up and we were in a small thunder squall. Once the rain let up, we headed out for a quick hike to a gorgeous earthen bridge crossing the river, far below. Then dinner and off to bed to get ready for a big effort tomorrow. We’ll carry a load of food and fuel to Camp 1 tomorrow, before returning to Base Camp. We’ll let you know how it goes.
On The Map
August 3, 2017
It takes a bit to navigate the process of Russian airports: checking in, going to a different counter to pay for baggage, back to the first to retrieve boarding passes, and then on to security. That meant an early morning for us in order to catch a 9.40 flight to Mineralnye Vody. Our driver did his best Ricky Bobby impression on the way, which got us there with plenty of time to spare.
The wave of heat that hit as we disembarked was impressive. Kislovodsk is hot, and everyone, including our local guide, is anxious to escape to the relative comfort of the mountain. We got a bit of food shopping done this afternoon, double checked our gear, and are ready for the 4wd trip to base camp tomorrow morning. Our next contact should be from the mountain as we really get this climb underway!
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Mike Uchal
Best expedition ever Pete + crew…Safety and Summit amid fav weather…Waltero…Godspeed…Great book on Amazon “Mount Elbrus and Mount Kosciuszko” by me of course!
Posted by: Walter Glover on 8/4/2017 at 5:54 am
Praying for great weather, safety, and fun! “Tamp it to the max!”
Posted by: Chase on 8/3/2017 at 9:45 pm
August 2, 2017
Though we haven’t been in Moscow for long, we did our best to see everything we could today. We matched the fast pace of our tour guide (she looked at us and said “you are supposed to be sportsmen”), and checked out sites that seem hard to believe for anyone who was alive during the Cold War. We wandered through Red Square, silently filed through Lenin’s Tomb, where Russia spends $200,000 a year to keep his body in perfect condition, and crossed through the front gate of the Kremlin to get a tour inside and see several of the cathedrals that exist within. Each had a dedicated purpose and patron, the Cathedral of the Assumption being used for Coronations and things involving the Russian Czars, while Archangel Michael’s Cathedral was used as a burial place for Czars and Czarinnas, including the family of Ivan the Terrible.
Unfortunately, St. Basil’s Cathedral was closed today due to a national holiday commemorating paratroopers in WWII, but we strolled through the GUM, the former Soviet State Department Store, and now a high end shopping mall, stopping to ease the heat with ice cream, before a delicious lunch at a Ukrainian Restaurant around the corner. We had the afternoon free to explore or take naps, before we headed to a nice rooftop restaurant overlooking the Moscow River for dinner. Tomorrow starts early, 5.30 am, as we head back to the airport to fly to the Caucasus and refocus on our climbing objective. Tomorrow will be a travel day, but before we know it, we’ll be at base camp, staring up at the twin summits of Mt. Elbrus and beginning our climb. We’ll check in soon.
RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer
Hi Kelly and Josh, hope you’re having a great time! Each day we pray for the safety of you and your team members! Take care and enjoy yourselves!
Darcy and Jon
Posted by: Darcy and Jon Schwanke on 8/6/2017 at 12:01 pm
Wish the team good luck. We pray for good weather and safe return of all team members!
Posted by: Smriti on 8/3/2017 at 8:48 am
Good morning from Moscow! The whole team trickled in over the course of yesterday, showing up a bit bleary eyed and time-confused by last night. We didn’t stray far from the hotel to find dinner, catch up a bit with old friends who are part of the team, and meet new ones. Everyone made a pretty quick exit once our plates were cleaned to crawl into bed and start the process of re- calibrating our clocks. This morning, everyone is already looking refreshed and renewed, ready for our tour of the sites of Moscow: St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Lenin’s Tomb, and the Kremlin are all ahead of us. We’ll enjoy the day of sights before we turn our attention to the mountain and the real reason that we’ve come! We’ve got a great team, and everyone is excited to get to climbing so stay tuned as our expedition gets underway!
Crush it Sonam…
Posted by: Josh on 8/2/2017 at 1:31 pm
Wishing Robin n Lisa and all the rest of the team my very best
Posted by: Rich on 8/2/2017 at 10:13 am
August 19, 2016
Our Elbrus Northside trip concluded in one of my favorite towns to visit in Europe, St. Petersburg. Finally sleeping in to a leisurely hour, we met our tour guide and bus at 10 am and departed on a circuitous path through the history filled city to see the sites. St. Petersburg is home to some of the more stunning cathedrals in Russia, and those were a primary focus of the tour, passing by the Church of our Savior on the Spilled Blood, St. Nicholas’ Cathedral (a cathedral dedicated to the Saint of travel and maritime navigation, which is of huge significance in a city founded to be the maritime capitol of Russia, and the home of it’s navy), and St. Issac’s Cathedral. The massive scale of St. Issac’s is something to behold, and on one side, its huge columns still bare the scars left from mortar and artillery shells fired at the city during its 600-day siege in World War II. We also passed the warship that fired the symbolic first shot that began the Bolshevik takeover of Russia’s government, and found ourselves finally at the Hermitage.
The Hermitage is comprised of the former winter palace of the Romanov dynasty, as well as several buildings that were added on later by different emperors and empresses, and is home to an art collection in excess of 2.7 million pieces. Our guide spent an hour taking us through the buildings, pointing out some highlights, a Michelangelo, two paintings by DaVinci, and several by Rembrandt. After the hour, our tour guide released us to wander through the stunning rooms ourselves at our own pace. That evening we regrouped for a canal boat tour, beginning on the river Nevski, which runs through the heart of St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, the days of recent rain (many of which we had experienced!), had swollen the rivers and canals, so that the boat was unable to make its way through the usual circuit of canals that run through the heart of the city, as the passages under the bridges were too low, but we still were able to see the summer gardens and several more palaces from the unique perspective of the canal.
That led us to our final dinner as a group. The Jerome presented the perfect destination, and when the chef came out to show us the special — a beautifully marbled cut of local prime rib weighing almost a kg, everyone was sold. Delicious local beef, and several bottles of Spanish Rioja provided the perfect ending celebration to a really special trip that everyone enjoyed. We were sad to part ways the following morning, some of us very early, for flights back to the US. This was a special group of climbers to work with, and JM and I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and incredible perseverance and positive attitudes. We look forward to running into everyone in the mountains again soon, and thanks to all who followed along on our adventure!
August 15, 2016
The last two days have flown by quickly, mostly involving automobiles, planes, airports, lots of bags, and a little walking. We had to wake early yesterday after our summit push to start the walk to Mt. Elbrus’ Base Camp, and the forecast called for rain, and our drivers were worried about getting the vans back across the river before the water levels rose. So we awoke at 5 to the sound of rain and quickly packed our bags, but pleasantly the rain subsided, and we had a nice, but very heavy walk back to the pastures where our adventure started. As we descended, the loose scree of the moraine have way to wide alluvial plains again, then the moss covered rocky hills and chasms of the lower mountain. We had only been at camp 1 for about a week, but the verdant green plant life, flowers, and birds of the lower elevations were still welcome sensory stimulation!
As we arrived at Base Camp, so did the vans, so we repacked hurriedly and climbed into another offroad sprinter van for the bouncy and at times thrilling drive back to Kislovodsk. Some took the afternoon to explore town, others supported and dried gear, and then we meet for our final Caucasian dinner, which we deemed Meat Fest. Three and a half 1 kilogram platters of delicious bbq lamb, beef, chicken, and pork had everyone holding their stomachs, gasping for air, but still trying to finish every morsel. Our national pride was on the line as Dave pointed out.
Today we once again did the great shuffle, catching an early shuttle to the airport, and then a flight to Moscow and on to St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is very cosmopolitan, and has the feel of old Europe, with cafes, bars, and restaurants at every turn. We found the Craft Brew Cafe and knew it would suit our needs. We just returned from another delicious meal, where different types of dried meats, chantrelles (which are in season!) and a delicious take on Bourchte were all featured heavily. Tomorrow we’ve got a busy day touring this beautiful city, and everybody is excited.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, JM Gorum, and team
August 13, 2016
What a spectacular day of climbing here in Russia! We got up just as that big orange ball of fire was cresting the horizon, but distant, low clouds to the East turned it blood red, as it set the Caucasus on fire. The excitement of a summit morning was palpable as everyone moved about with a little extra pep putting the final preparations on their packing jobs, and them we were underway.
The skies were crystal clear for nearly all of our ascent, and a 10mph downhill breeze kept things pretty chilly, as well as filled in any trace of a trail, though there was a group of 12 just 30min ahead of us. Three stretches of climbing brought us to the saddle between the East and West summits. There, we joined the Southside route for the final push to the West Summit. Five and a half hours after leaving camp, we were standing on the top of Europe, snapping photos, sharing congratulations, and enjoying the achievement. The wind was still chilly, and cranking steadily, so after 20 min or so, we were ready to beat feet back down. Our timing couldn’t have been better; as we left clouds started to flow over the summit, and descended as we did. We got back to our high camp, packed things up, and kept rolling down to our camp 1 at 12,300, where we are now, enjoying kebab and mulled wine from our outfitter Yuri.
Tomorrow we’ll wake early to descend to base camp and meet our vans to return to Kislovodsk and civilization. From there, our Russian adventure will continue in St. Petersburg! For now, we’ll relish in our success and look forward to showers and beds tomorrow.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, JM Gorum, and team
On The Map
August 12, 2016
We have settled in to high camp at Lenz Rocks after a beautiful day of climbing. Warm sun, and a cloudless sky at breakfast let us dally a bit longer than had been our want, and then we set to packing up camp, paring down our gear to the essentials, and getting ready to climb to 15,000’. The climbing is very smooth, mostly walking straight up a broad shoulder of the glacier, and everyone performed well. The scale here is pretty large, and difficult to get a grasp on, and it was quickly apparent that it was better to focus on one’s steps than looking up, as things took much longer to approach than it seemed like they should.
With camp built, we’re headed to bed early in anticipation of an earlyish start for the summit tomorrow. With any luck, we’ll be calling in from the summit tomorrow!
On The Map
Congratulations all on reaching the summit! Wonderful news.
Posted by: Gayle Hitton on 8/13/2016 at 6:06 pm
August 11, 2016
Rain and wet snow pounding on the tent this morning told us all we needed to know about the wisdom of moving uphill today. With folks recovering from our united GI distress, another day to rest up and be ready for the move was in order. The clouds gave us a break finally, and most of the day was very pleasant, though the moving snow and lenticulars told a different story above. By this evening everyone was excited to be feeling good again, and we are well prepped for a move to our high camp at Lenz Rocks tomorrow.
We’ll be in touch soon,
Go Go Pete + crew…GI distress ~ Hmm: Sounds familar!
Posted by: Walter Glover on 8/12/2016 at 5:49 am
August 10, 2016
Sometimes you get thrown a total curveball, which was the case with our Mt. Elbrus expedition today. Apparently there has been a stomach bug simmering in the group, and it reached its boiling point last night. With most of the team suffering and feeling less than 100%, it was an easy decision to stay put and rest and recover today. That ended up lining up well with the forecast, as the next couple of days look better than today or tonight. So with that positive note, we’ll get a good night’s sleep so that we wake up ready to get back to work.