Entries By jeff martin

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Moves to Camp 1

Posted by: Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer | August 07, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside
Elevation: 12,300'

Hello,
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

View from Mt. Elbrus Northside Camp 1. Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

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Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Makes Carry to 11,200’

Posted by: Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer | August 06, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside
Elevation: 11,200'

We jumped straight into it today. After six days of travel, hotels, and sight seeing, we were excited to don packs and point our toes uphill. The roughly sixty pounds of food, fuel, and gear each didn’t dampen the enthusiasm, at least at first.

Our goal was to move a significant bulk of our expedition kit up to 11,200 ft, just a bit shy of Camp 1. With the recent rains, as well as the cattle traffic, the first stretch was muddy and slick. Throw in the steep terrain and it felt a bit like we were climbing on ice skates. But with only a few bovine friends that needed to be shooed out of our way, we made good time and quickly gained the Berlin airfield, a large flat basin, that the Germans supposedly were able to land planes during WWII. Though the skies threatened rain (for much of the day) the clouds seemed to push up with us, keeping us dry for the time being.

Through a series of steep climbs and flat benches we wound our way, perfecting our rest step and footwork, until after 3.5 hours, we arrived at the cache site. While periodically scanning for anyone spying our location, we stealthily sorted our cache gear and hid it in the rocks, then turned tail and headed downhill. The going was fast and easy until the last steep stretch to camp when we again had to contend with the mud churned up by our ruminant cohabitants. We slipped, slid, and squished our way down to camp. Our timing was impeccable, as the skies that had threatened all day finally delivered in the form of a drenching downpour two minutes before we reached camp. We ducked into tents and hung wet shells to dry.  As the rain continued the ground saturated, and soon our tents seemed to wart to begin floating.  Luckily the water has so far stayed on the right side of the tent fabric. We made a hearty dinner of soup with fresh veggies (a shift from last night’s farm to table feast) and have retired to our abodes. It is still raining, but hopefully it will subside tonight so that we can move up to Camp 1 tomorrow. If not, it may be time for us to consider building an ark. We’ll update you on our progress tomorrow!

All the best from RMI Guides Pete, Jeff, and Gang

The Trail to Basecamp on Mt. Elbrus. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Arrives at Basecamp

Posted by: Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer | August 05, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside
Elevation: 8,300'

Greetings from Elbrus Basecamp,

We completed our last leg of travel today and reached Basecamp. The day started with a nice breakfast served in our rooms at the hotel, and then we loaded up the vehicles one last time and headed towards the mountain. In recent years, there has been a lot of road improvements so much of the drive is now paved. The last 8 miles though is still the same with huge mud holes, deep ruts, and very steep drop offs. Since it has been raining the last few days, the road was extra slick and this changed what would have been a 15 minute ride into a very entertaining two hours. We ended up walking down while another vehicle carried our gear. As luck would have it, that vehicle broke an axle so we went back to the vehicle to carry it ourselves. After we arrived at the jeep, we learned that another vehicle had been found so we walked back to basecamp. It was raining the whole time and without our gear it is a little difficult to set up a camp. We were finally reunited with our gear and we moved into a nice camp.
The driver who helped us out today ended up cooking us dinner. We walked back down the same path for the third time today to his shack. He was waiting for us and motioned us into his home. He had obviously been cooking since we last saw him and we were first offered a local milk drink that tasted like yogurt, drank from a communal cup, then steaming hot bread, and finally a whole pot of lamb and potatoes. It was a delicious meal and an experience we will not soon forget.

Now it is off it bed so we are ready for our carry day tomorrow.

Best,

RMI Guides Jeff, Pete & Team

The Northside view of Mt. Elbrus. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. Elbrus: North Side Team Arrives in Kislovodsk

Posted by: Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer | August 04, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside

Hello from Kislovodsk,
As planned, we had an early start this morning, leaving our hotel at 5:45 to drive to the domestic airport. With all our bags checked we boarded the plane and flew south to Mineralyne Vody, the main airport in the Caucasus region. Then it was an hour drive to the resort town of Kislovodsk. Best known for its spas, many Russians come here to take a break from the big city life in Moscow. But we did not come here for the spas. We are here because it is the last town before we drive into the mountains. We spent the afternoon going through all of our gear, making sure we had everything needed for the climb and this team is ready.
Tomorrow we will finally see Elbrus for the first time as we approach Basecamp. We are all excited to be ending our travels and beginning the climb.

All the best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

The RMI August 1st North Side Mt. Elbrus team at dinner in Kislovodsk, Russia.  Photo: Pete Van Deventer

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Mt. Elbrus: Northside team tours Moscow

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Jeff Martin | August 03, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside

We had a great first day in Moscow.  It started with a short walk to the heart of Russia - Red Square and the Kremlin. First up was Lenin’s Tomb. It is sort of an eerie experience seeing an embalmed man who has been dead for so many years, but definitely worth it. The trick is to move just slow enough through the viewing room that you do not get the guards’ attention and be told to move ahead. After exiting the tomb, we met up with our tour guide who lead us on a grand tour through Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the GUM, Red Square, and finally the Kremlin. The day was certainly a mini history lesson of the czars and rulers of Russia, and of wars and power struggles, and Moscow has been around for almost a 1000 years so it gets a little complicated.

After the tour of the Kremlin and feeling like we were close to information overload, we started our walk back to the hotel for a little down time. We are back from dinner now and heading to bed so that we can leave early in the morning for our flight to our next town - Kislovodsk. We’ll check in once we get settled there.

Best,

RMI Guides Jeff Martin and Pete Van Deventer

Red Square in Moscow. Photo: Pete Van Deventer

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Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Arrives in Moscow

Posted by: Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer | August 02, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside

Greetings from Moscow,

The team arrived in Moscow today and our Russian adventure has officially begun!
There are no more trips to the store to buy that last minute item that you think you might need to bring just in case, no more chances to clear off your desk of the last few remaining to-do items. It is go time. We are headed for Mt. Elbrus.
But before we fly south, we are going to explore Moscow tomorrow and all it’s amazing sights. And we will get a big dose of Russian culture, food and history along the way. The perfect introduction to this country.

RMI Guides Jeff Martin and Pete Van Deventer

Mt. Elbrus from the northside route. Photo: RMI Collection

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Kilimanjaro: Martin & Team Check in from Kikoti Camp

Posted by: Jeff Martin | February 20, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Kilimanjaro

Hello from Kikoti Camp,

It was another amazing day on safari. We left the Plantation Lodge this morning and headed south to the last park we will visit on our safari, Tarangire National Park. En route, we stopped at a few curio shops to get gifts for our family and friends back home. Wood animal carvings, Maasai blankets, African masks, carved bowls, and few paintings will all make the journey home.

Once we got into the park, the game viewing was a little slow at first. Our luck certainly changed after lunch. Not only did we see a leopard, we also saw a female cheetah with three cubs, several big elephant herds, giraffes, warthogs, and even a unicorn. Actually it was Thompson Gazelle that lost a horn, but from a distance, it definitely looked like a unicorn.We have seen a lot of animals the last few days and covered a lot of beautiful miles. We are now at our last lodge, a luxury tented camp right on the edge of Tarangire. The views are incredible and the sounds around camp remind us that we really are out in the African bush.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and what a perfect spot for our last night in Tanzania. Tomorrow, we drive back to Arusha, pick up our climbing gear and head to the airport for our flights back home.
From literally the snows of Kilimanjaro to the African plains, this has been a hell of a trip. Thank you again to those who checked in daily to read our dispatches and to everyone who left the motivating comments while we were on the mountain.

Best regards,

RMI Guide Jeff Martin & Team

A Giraffe in Tarangire National Park. RMI Photo Collection Kikoti Camp. RMI Photo Collection

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Kilimanjaro: Martin & Team Visit the Ngorongoro Crater

Posted by: Jeff Martin | February 19, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Kilimanjaro

Hello from the Plantation Lodge,

The Ngorongoro Crater did not disappoint today. In fact, it was a five star day! We started off early so we could spend the whole day down in the Crater. The first sighting was a big bull elephant, followed by seeing 5 black rhinos, a pride of 7 lions, a lone male lion, many hippos including a hippo out if the water and three hippos that were 15’ away from us at our lunch spot. Hyenas, baby jackals, and Grant and Thompson Gazelles, plus all the other animals we saw yesterday, but in even greater numbers.

The grass in the Crater is really green because of the recent rains, and the animals were everywhere. After we were almost cross-eyed from looking at all the animals, we headed up to the rim of the crater and went to a Maasai Village. The Massai are a tribe of 70 different clans, totaling almost 55,000 people. They inhabit the land around Ngorongoro and to the north into Kenya. They are trying hard to live in their traditional ways but still exist in a modern world. This was our opportunity to see first hand how they are doing it.

It was definitely a very full day. Now we are back at the lodge, just finished dinner and making our plans for tomorrow. We’ll head south to Tarangire National Park for our final two days of safari. Still on the list of animals to see - a leopard.

Best regards,

RMI Guide Jeff Martin & Team

Maasai People. Photo: Jeff Martin

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Kilimanjaro: Martin & Team Begin Their Safari at Lake Manyara National Park

Posted by: Jeff Martin | February 18, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Kilimanjaro

Hello from the Plantation Lodge,

We had a great day today at Lake Manyara National Park. Located about two hours from Arusha, it is the first stop on our safari circuit. This is a hidden gem of a park as most people only drive right by it on the way to the bigger named parks. It is the perfect introduction to how to safari, getting us oriented to many of the different animal species and habitats, as well as figuring out how to get some really good pictures.
We had some excitement during our “bush” lunch when a troop of 60 baboons passed right by us, and three of the males caused quite a ruckus when they began fighting over one of the female baboons.
There were lots of elephants today, giraffes, monkeys, hippos, dik diks, warthogs, wildebeests, and ostriches. The list goes on and it was a very successful day.
We are now at the Plantation Lodge, a wonderful small lodge that sits on the highlands above the Great Rift Valley. It’s absolutely beautiful here and they have thought of every detail in making this one of the best lodges in the area.
Tomorrow we are off to Ngorongoro Crater, where we will see what most consider as the eighth wonder of the world.

Best regards,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

A baboon at Lake Manyara National Park. Photo: Jeff Martin An elephant at Lake Manyara National Park. Photo: Casey Grom

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Kilimanjaro: Martin & Team Back at the Dik Dik to Celebrate their Success

Posted by: Jeff Martin | February 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Kilimanjaro

Hello from the Dik Dik,

Our mountain adventure ended today with 10 very happy climbers. Even though we had a very long day yesterday, the team wanted to get an early start and hike down to the Mweka Gate. You could tell that everyone wanted showers as we made record time descending the 4,400’ to the end of the trail. You can feel it is the last day as porters are ready to get paid, and the climbers are still on the high of summiting yesterday. We had a big lunch spread waiting for us at the gate and then we tipped out our mountain crew for all their hard work over the last seven days.

Now we are back at the hotel and sitting down for drinks before our celebration dinner. We are all cleaned up and have packed away all our mountain gear.

Tomorrow we are heading out on our safari. The perfect way to recover from the physical effort expended to reach the top of Kilimanjaro. First stop is Lake Manyara!

Best regards,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

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