Entries from Elbrus Ski
Today we toured the beautiful city of St. Petersburg including St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. In the evening we had a nice canal tour, although the rivers being close to flood stage meant our boat couldn’t pass under certain bridges. We had a nice final dinner as a team at our favorite restaurant - this trip has just flown by, which is always a sign of a great trip. Till next time…
Just a quick one to say we made it to St. Petersburg safe and sound this afternoon despite a few thunderstorms on arrival. A little bit of culture shock being back in the city after our time in the mountains but we’re looking forward to a city dining experience this evening…
Everyone slept great last night after a big day yesterday. Today’s activities included a beautiful morning walk from the village of Cheget to Azau, where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the Freeride Cafe. Afternoon horseback riding included an exciting river ford and a visit to the valley’s mineral springs. This evening we celebrated our successful climb with Yuriy, our local Russian guide who’s climbed Mt. Elbrus “maybe 200 times…maybe 300. I’ve stopped counting many years ago.” BBQ lamb, potato pancakes, Russian salads, and of course, vodka… tomorrow it’s another alpine start as we head for St. Petersburg. All is great in Russia.
On The Map
This morning we awoke to stars above and stars below (no clouds whatsoever), a welcome change from the pattern we’ve experienced in our time on the mountain thus far. A light but steady breeze at the level of our camp was telling of the wind we’d encounter up high, but we went with optimism. At 4 am we were cramponing above Pastukhov Rocks, and the sunrise came quickly, illuminating dramatic Caucasus peaks we’ve yet to see on this trip.
By the traverse at 5000m we were in the wind for real. It came in waves. Sheets. Rapidly approaching freight trains threatening to knock you off your feet if you didn’t acknowledge them with the brace position. Then it was fine for 30 seconds. Then another train. Snow blowing everywhere. Spindrift filling in the trail, and any open zipper, backpack, or jacket cuff.
Carrying skis on your back was another matter. Somewhat ridiculous feeling, climbing in the wind carrying sails. I think we made other climbers feel as if maybe they didn’t have it so bad. At least in relative terms they were aerodynamic.
But it was warm. Slow going, but sunny and not as threatening of a situation as it may sound. Just some strong, annoying wind.
The wind took it easy on us for a short window of time that we stood on the summit. Much appreciated wind! The ski down was not effortless for the first few thousand feet - I’d describe it as typical high altitude ski mountaineering. You don’t do it for the snow. More a game of dodging bare ice patches that aren’t supposed to exist until August, and finding smooth ribs of sustrugi to rail slide. Maximizing efficient elevation loss. The aerodynamic climbers were all of a sudden jealous.
Then it got good. We hit the corn line around 14,500’ and the skiing became fun. And all of a sudden we were back at camp.
Proud effort team - everyone brought it today. Not a casual Elbrus ski ascent, but well earned.
On The Map
Good for you, what a great feeling you must have!!!! Bob and I are having a celebratory vodka for you
Posted by: Barb on 6/24/2017 at 4:42 pm
Enjoy the well deserved rest and celebratory vodka!!!
Posted by: Greg Barber on 6/24/2017 at 11:39 am
Acclimatization by Ski Doo is one advantage of having skis here on Mt. Elbrus. For a little morning activity on our rest day, we caught a snowmobile ride to 15,000’, and climbed up to 16,000’ in steady winds. We actually had some visibility on our descent this time and were able to enjoy the turns a bit more than yesterday’s whiteout run.
We spent the afternoon making preparations for an alpine start in the morning. If the forecast verifies, we’ll have a nice clearing trend throughout the morning and hopefully summitable conditions. We’re feeling psyched and ready.
Go Kerry!! Psyched for you and hoping the weather window comes through!!
Posted by: Julie on 6/24/2017 at 8:18 am
Woo hoo! You are there Kerry! Way to go. I look forward to hearing about your trip in person when you return. Xoxo Katherine
Posted by: Katherine L on 6/24/2017 at 3:02 am
Today we awoke to blue skies above and beautiful views of the mountain, but as we set off on our acclimatization ski tour, the clouds followed us. We spent the majority of the day in minimal visibility - the Elbrus ping pong ball. Strong solar radiation made for uncomfortably warm temps, which combined with the whiteout was a challenge to our motivation. But we persevered, and climbed to the top of Pastukhova Rocks at 15,500’.
We “skied by braille” back down the route to our camp and were greeted by Dasha our cook with delicious soup and fried chicken. A very successful acclimatization ski, despite the clouds…
On The Map
Yuck whiteout. I’m having a sangria in whistler for you. Hang in there sister good stuffs coming
Posted by: Barb crone on 6/22/2017 at 12:25 pm
marginally better than studying for Boards and grading?
Posted by: Greg Barber on 6/22/2017 at 10:58 am
We finally got to ski on Mt. Elbrus today! We had a nice acclimatization tour up to 14,000’ in wintry snow conditions. All that rain down low has equaled nice snow quality up high, and aside from the altitude our turns felt effortless.
This morning we did the three gondola “duffel shuffle” - nothing like ski lifts for approaching High Camp (beats walking!). We’ve got ourselves nicely situated at our home here at 12,600’. Everyone is feeling good and in good spirits. We’re psyched to go a bit higher tomorrow..
RMI Guide Tyler Reid
On The Map
Last night we slept to the sound of heavy rain, and this morning we awoke to the sight of heavy rain. We decided to let it subside before heading out on our acclimatization foray. Luckily it did, and we were able to get the blood flowing above 10,000’ with a little help from a chairlift. The clouds partially broke for a moment in time, and we were treated to our first glimpse of Mt. Elbrus. We are ready to go set up shop on its lower flanks starting tomorrow, and most excitingly put skis on our feet. Stay tuned…
On The Map
Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable climb. I’ll look forward to your slide show upon your return, Kerry Hermann!
Posted by: Julia on 6/21/2017 at 7:40 am
My hands are sore from so much excited clapping!!
Posted by: Randy on 6/20/2017 at 11:13 pm
A van ride, an airplane ride, another van ride, and we’re in Cheget. Super smooth sailing through our travels today, ski bags and all. Yuri is the local Russian guide who will be joining us on Mt. Elbrus, and he greeted us with a warm reception at the airport in Mineralyne Vody. We’re excited to finally be in the mountains.
It was worth the wait - the weather this morning was absolutely perfect and our whole team was able to ski from the true summit of Mt. Elbrus!
We woke up to brilliant stars and an impressive Big Dipper, and soon found ourselves being propelled uphill by snowcat to our starting point for the climb. Snow conditions on our ascent were a bit too frozen for skinning, so we put on boot crampons and threw our skis on our packs, moving efficiently up the well established climbing route. A long, ascending traverse brought us to the col between the east and west summits, a nice flat spot for a break.
Above the col we broke through the shadow line into the sun, and after a couple more hours, onto the summit plateau. 15 minutes later we were on top, enjoying spectacular views deep into the Republic of Georgia, and the impressive surrounding Caucasus Mountains. And then came the best part. A never-ending-feeling 6000’ descent back to our camp. We had the full range of snow conditions on the way down; the last 2000’ or so was pure hero snow - incredibly smooth, predictable, perfectly sun softened corn. Of all the teams climbing this morning we were the only skiers! Such an efficient way to travel in the mountains. Our team was back at camp hours before any other team.
After a few gondola rides down into the lush lowlands and a nice lunch, we’re back in the village of Azau for a well earned celebration.