August 16, 2014
Today we fully immersed ourselves in the culture and history of St. Petersburg. After an incredible breakfast at our hotel, we hit the streets to begin our city tour. Our city guide, Olga, led us through the maze of streets and canals to all the best churches, museums and cathedrals in the city. We tried our best to keep up with all the dates and facts that she knew by heart, but after several hours, we had to concede that it was a losing proposition. There is simply just way too much to see and learn.
By the time we toured Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, the fourth largest cathedral in the world, we were ready to take a break. We met up for an early dinner and then with a second wind, we finished the day with a boat tour of the canals and Neva River. The city is even more beautiful from the water and the perfect view in which to remember this city.
Sadly, this adventure comes to an end tomorrow as we go our separate ways and travel back home. We have had a great time and hope you have enjoyed following along as we traveled and climbed our way through Russia.
August 15, 2014
We are in St. Petersburg! This morning we headed out of the hotel and drove to Mineralnye Vody for our flight. Even though it is just about a three hour flight, it took most of the day to reach our final destination.
St. Petersburg is very different from what we have seen the last two weeks. It is best described as the cultural center of Russia, while Moscow is the center of government and administration. The architecture is stunning and the monuments truly impressive. The harder “edge” found in Kislovodsk is definitely softer and the curiosity surrounding foreign visitors is almost non-existent. It is also much easier to find a dinner menu with a little English.
We headed out for an early dinner at a nearby restaurant and to get a little preview of the city before we get the grand tour tomorrow.
All the best,
RMI Guides Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer, and the North Side Team
August 14, 2014
Since we did not use one of our weather days while on the mountain, we had the whole day today in Kislovodsk. After our long push to get off the mountain yesterday, and the birthday celebration dinner that followed, most of us were happy to have a rest day of sorts.
We had to deal with drying and sorting gear one last time so it is ready for our flight tomorrow, and then it was time to get re-connected with the rest of the world since we had been out of touch for the last nine days.
The weather here was beautiful today in town, sunny skies and about 90 degrees. We decided to head down to the pedestrian mall in the center of town to do some shopping, find an ice cream store and stroll through the city park. Being the height of the summer season, there were many people just out enjoying the day. With a few souvenir purchases under our belt, we walked around admiring the different buildings, statues, fountains, and shops.
With our attention turning to dinner, we found a great restaurant right in the middle of the square. We luckily had a waiter who could help us decipher the menu and helped us order an incredible meal. He thought we were crazy with how much food we ordered, but we ate it all. There were three different meat dishes served in a huge bowl with charcoals underneath to keep it warm, fresh salads, and perfectly grilled vegetables. It was the hands-down winner for our best meal in Russia.
Tomorrow we head to the airport to fly north to St. Petersburg, the last leg of this journey. We’ll check in once we get there.
All the best,
RMI Guides Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer, and the Elbrus Northside Team
Congrats all! Very proud of you brother, Trev… has been exciting to follow. Lylab, Viv
Posted by: Viv on 8/14/2014 at 6:02 pm
August 13, 2014
First and foremost, we are safely off of Mt. Elbrus, and back in Kislovodsk!
The last 36 hours have gone by in a rush to be sure. We woke yesterday to very light winds and clear skies all around us for the first time in several days. All indications were that it was a perfect summit day, so we rallied the troops, crammed down breakfast, and readied our summit kits for a big day. By 8:45, it was time to rope up and start walking. The first section of the climbing route follows the natural contours of the bowl between summits (Mt Elbrus has two summits, the west about 40 ft higher than the east) to the saddle that splits them. We found nice, firm cramponing conditions on the wind buffed snow, and the team moved very well. After three hours we had gained the saddle and our climbing route merged with that of the South side. As we climbed a steep pitch out of the saddle we passed many teams already descending. Seven hundred feet brought us to the summit ridge, a broad, flat stretch that leads to the very tippy top. Here the wind increased, reddening our cheeks and causing us to pull up our buffs and tuck deeper into our hoods. After five hours of steady climbing, our rope teams made the final steps to the top of Europe. Jeff had 5 summits of Mt. Elbrus under his belt, and despite the wind, this one was the warmest and nicest by far. After ample time for photographs and enjoying the moment, we bid adieu to the summit and headed for camp. The wind quickly died, but the cumulus clouds that were beginning to rise in all directions caught our attention. It was a short trip to retrace our tracks to camp, and once there, a poll of the group showed unanimous support for packing everything and continuing to Camp 1. Despite tired legs, thirsty throats and hungry bellies, none wanted to endure any incoming weather at Lenz Rocks. So with a bit more suffering. We descended another 3,000 feet to the relative comfort of Camp 1, ate dinner and called it a big day well done.
This morning we packed all of our gear one last time, and descended the trail, with wildflowers and views aplenty to base camp. Just like clockwork (not always the case here in Russia) the WAS vans that carry us to and from base camp rolled in just a few moments after us. We hurriedly packed our duffles and jumped inside as the drivers became more agitated about the prospect of rain. We made the river crossing and up the steepest, slickest section of road before the rain, quickly turning to hail (a fitting send off from the mountain).
The drive went smoothly, as eyelids took turns closing, and we now find ourselves back in Kislovodsk, showered, and ready for a big meal. It was a bit bittersweet to drive away from the mountain, or biggest objective now complete, but our trip is not over: we have tomorrow to explore this Caucus region town before heading on to St. Petersburg to enjoy the rich history and all that it has to offer. We’ll continue to update you on our adventures. Thanks for reading,
August 12, 2014
The Mt. Elbrus North Side team reached the summit of Mt. Elbrus at 2 pm local time on August 12th. The team had good weather for their summit attempt. After taking photos and soaking in the views they descended to their high camp, broke down camp and descended to Camp 1. The team will spend their final night on the mountain tonight and make their way to the trail head tomorrow for a ride back to Kislovodsk.
Congratulations to the Mt. Elbrus North Side Team!
On The Map
Well done Johann & all the team.
Posted by: Jackie Melllo on 8/14/2014 at 4:03 am
Job well done Jessie and Team!!!!
Posted by: Len and Cathy Gagliardi on 8/13/2014 at 6:41 am
Hello from Camp 2 on Mt. Elbrus,
Our plan for today was to wake up early to get a head start and try to get to Camp 2 before the potential afternoon weather moved in. Well, this morning was not like the last three mornings. It was snowing pretty hard at camp, so we once again had a weather delay. This time though, our delay worked. By 9:30 the snow had stopped and most of the clouds had dissipated and we could actually see the twin summits. We were walking shortly after and made it to camp with beautiful weather. The clouds that did remain worked with the sun to create a perfect solar oven. The walk up was very hot and there was literally no escaping the heat until we reached camp.
We set up camp in the lower Lenz Rocks, 3000’ above Camp 1. Fortunately, the weather cooperated while we established a camp that was ready for the windy reputation of Lenz Rocks.
If the weather continues to improve, tomorrow should be our summit day. We are all packed and the team is strong, healthy, and ready for our attempt.
We are now tucked into our tents just as the sun is setting over the western flanks of the mountain. The views just get better and better.
RMI Guides Jeff Martin and Pete Van Deventer and the Northside Team
On The Map
Hi rob. I am praying for safety for you and team. I am so proud of you. Stay strong. Love you so much
Posted by: brendie on 8/12/2014 at 4:18 am
Climb strong Team Elbrus…..almost there…...
Posted by: LD Carani on 8/11/2014 at 8:47 pm
August 10, 2014
Greetings once again from Camp 1. We woke up this morning to a bit of a mixed bag, with a large cloud cap spinning up high, but clear, sunny skies over camp. After dragging our feet over breakfast and watching the clouds, it seemed that things were moving in the right direction and dissipating. Once we decided the move was a go, the team did a fantastic job of crashing camp and getting packed for the move. Just as fast if not faster however, was the change in the weather trend. The clouds that had been dissipating rebuilt ever stronger, and we began to rethink our decision. After some more staring at the clouds, scuffing of feet, and sighing, we decided the prudent decision was to reset camp and take a rest day. Prudent that decision turned out to be: not long after the tents were back up, our wintry mix began to fall again, and within an hour or two, a repeat of our thunder and lightning storm from yesterday.
With a lot of tent time today, and weather persisting this evening, we decided to treat ourselves to a delicious pasta dinner cooked by the camp cook, Olga. It was a nice break from the tents to share a meal, stories, and jokes around a table with a roof over our heads. With full bellies, we are retiring, with hopes that we wake up to a better scene tomorrow, and can continue our upward progress.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Jeff Martin, and team
On The Map
Good luck to you and the team!! Great to read your updates…
Cheers from the heat and 90% humidity of Houston!!
Posted by: Salil on 8/11/2014 at 8:24 am
Senor Senior Guide Pete…Elbrus and from the north side - Look at you !...Dont believe you’ve been there before have you ?...If I’m right - holy moley I lead you in one peak category :)...All the best for a memorable / great climb…Saying the Weather Prayer…Spain and El Camino 19 days and counting…All the best + God bless…Waltero
Posted by: Waltero on 8/11/2014 at 5:14 am
August 9, 2014
Hello from 3800 Assault Camp (as our Russian friends call it). Since we were reunited with all of our gear yesterday and had some time to contemplate the piles, today was the perfect day to once again bump up a portion of that gear to our next camp at Lenz Rocks (about 15k). We woke to brilliant azure skies and cooler temps: perfect climbing weather. By 9 am we were donning harnesses and crampons, and clipping in to the climbing rope for the first time of the trip. The terrain below Lenz was our first snow climbing of the trip, and the conditions were perfect for cramponing. The group moved very well through the first stretch, but it began to feel like we were racing the weather a bit. First, a few errant clouds drifted across our climbing route on a light breeze, temporarily reducing our visibility. Then, just as we neared our destination, there was a distant rumble of thunder. At Lenz we didn’t rush with our cache, using the time at a new altitude to help our acclimatization, but we didn’t linger either. With our gear stored, we headed down into very low visibility and a couple of more distant rumbles. We moved very well downhill with light packs and some motivation, ultimately beating the weather to camp. Not long after we were tucked into tents snacking, the first flash of lightning alerted us that the storm had arrived. We sat, counting the seconds between flashes and cracks, listening to the tattoo of hail and graupel on the tent walls. By dinner time things had calmed down, and we ate dessert while watching spectacular colors play on the clouds as the sun set. We are hoping that our luck with the weather continues, and that tomorrow will give us the opportunity to move camp once again. We’ll be in touch tomorrow.
Trevor I see that you are back in your element…...snow and ice…...what Canucks are raised on. Keep climbing baby.
Posted by: LD Carani on 8/9/2014 at 4:39 pm
August 8, 2014
We had a good first night at Camp 1. Everyone is doing great and feeling strong.
We did sleep in a little this morning and woke up to a beautiful cloudless day. A welcome treat after the last few mornings of rain. After breakfast we headed downhill to pick up our cache that we left two days ago. It was a quick roundtrip and we were back in camp by lunch. Since it was a rest day, we fired up the stoves and had quesadillas for lunch and lounged around camp.
Starting tomorrow, we will be on the glacier for the rest of the climb. We wanted to get a little review in, so we went out on the glacier to practice some cramponing and ice ax arrest. We are all ready for tomorrow!
Now we are back at camp hydrating and trying to make a dent in our pile of snack food.
Dinner will come soon enough and we enjoying the late afternoon sun and the constantly changing colors on the upper mountain. What a view.
All the best,
RMI Guides Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer, and team
On The Map
Hello Jess and team.
Great to hear you all had a great day.
We are all doing well here at home.
Love you sweetie!!
Posted by: Hector on 8/8/2014 at 4:15 pm
Sounds like a great day!
Hello to Bruce from all back home!
Isabelle is missing her buddy.
Go conquer that glacier.
Posted by: Joyce Pully on 8/8/2014 at 3:38 pm
August 7, 2014
After two great nights at Basecamp, it was time to move out and establish a new camp higher up on Mt. Elbrus.
We were really lucky again today with the weather. It was still raining when we first woke up, but just about the time we were taking down the tents, it stopped and has been dry ever since.
The trail was still challenging today, but everybody did great. We made good time all the way back up to our cache site at 11,200’. We grabbed a few items from the cache that we would need for the night, and continued on our way. The last stretch into camp climbs up a very rocky moraine and is some of the most trickiest walking on the whole mountain, especially with some heavy packs. We worked our way up the faint climber’s trail, dealing with lots of loose scree and some very awkward steps, but finally being rewarded as we crested over the top of the ridge and arrived at Camp 1.
The weather has not been that good the last several days, and as a result, there is a fair amount of climbers still waiting at Camp 1 for their summit attempt. Tent sites were at a premium, but after a little searching, we found some good spots and started building our camp. We are now all settled into what will be our home for the next three nights.
We have been in the clouds most of the day, but the upper mountain has made a few brief appearances this afternoon. Our hope is that this improving weather trend will continue for us.
Right now there are many climbers in camp getting ready to climb tonight. We, on the other hand, are going to bed and looking forward to sleeping in the morning.
All the best,
RMI Guides Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer and the team
On The Map
Glad to hear you had better weather.
I am enjoying the blog and look forward to a new installment each day.
Best wishes for continued weather improvements and great climbing!
Posted by: Joyce Pully on 8/7/2014 at 2:58 pm