Entries from Elbrus Northside
August 6, 2019
We made it to the mountain! We got up this morning, had a last cafe breakfast in town, and loaded the YAZ vans for the trip to Elbrus-Northside Basecamp. The YAZ is the itinerant vehicle in rural Russia, and Mike Uchal’s next car. Styled like a Volkswagen van, but diesel, four-wheel drive, with nothing but the basics inside, they are built to bounce, bump, splash, and grind their way over terrain, generally at what feels like a fair amount of speed. That’s exactly what we did this morning. Our drivers Igor and Yuri deftly maneuvered us over the rough four-wheel drive track that leads to base camp.
Upon our arrival, we quickly erected our small city of tents, went for a walk to stretch our legs, dodged into the tents to hide from a passing rain shower, and covered up a delicious dinner of chili.
Tomorrow, we’ll move a load of things up to the camp on the moraine at 12,000’. We’ll be in touch afterwards!
On The Map
August 5, 2019
Our departure this morning was earlier than anyone wanted, but gave us plenty of time at the Moscow International Airport to sort out our numerous duffels, get everything checked, and have a quick breakfast and coffee before we boarded. The flight to Kislovodsk was uneventful (as they all should be), and soon we were blazing down the road in a minibus towards our hotel. While the team did some food shopping and relaxed, the guides made a trip to our outfitters to grab some stored gear. We got the special treatment, returning in a Russian jeep!
We’ve had dinner, checked through our gear, and are ready for bed and a departure for the mountain tomorrow morning.
Sign Up For Mt. Elbrus Northside August 2, 2019 Emails
Good luck and we look forward to following the climb. One question on the Russian truck, it appears to be held together by tape?
Posted by: wendy kolosar on 8/6/2019 at 9:27 am
Godspeed Pete and friends.
PS: Aconcagua + Rainier book in composition..
Fun reliving dat. To find a publisher now,,,,
Posted by: Waltero Glover on 8/6/2019 at 8:01 am
The team assembled in Moscow yesterday evening for the start to our Elbrus Northside adventure. We kept things brief, as many of us were working off the affects of many hours of transatlantic flights, and headed out for a nice dinner at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Moscow River. This morning it was time to kick it into tourist gear and explore some of the historical architecture in and around the Kremlin. We met our tour guide Victoria in a bustling Red Square and joined the queue to file through Lenin’s Tomb to see his body. We emerged from the darkness to cross Red Square and enter St. Basil’s Cathedral. The building is actually made up of 11 individual churches, all connected, that were built and dedicated to a variety of saints; some local heroes of Moscow, and some of the Eastern Orthodox religion. After a quick swing through the GUM department store, we swung around the walls of the Kremlin to the entrance and filtered through the main gate. Inside, buildings from a variety of time periods, some dating back to the Czars and emperors, some built during communism, house a variety of museums, assembly and concert venues, and current Russian government offices. Of interest to us were the five cathedrals towards the back of the Kremlin. Cathedrals that were used for the coronation of emperors, to hold the remains of royalty, to be the head of the Eastern Orthodox religion, and to be the location for royal baptisms, weddings, and other major events.
Our whirlwind tour of cathedrals concluded, and we wandered into the old city for lunch, before making our way back across the Moscow River to our hotel for a little free time. We got together this evening for another delicious meal atop yet another Moscow building, this one themed around mushrooms and all of their unique flavors. We’ve only just gotten off the planes it feels like, but early tomorrow, we’ll be back on the road to the airport, headed for Kislovodsk, our departure point for the mountain and our objective. It will feel good to be closer to the hills, and to the rhythms of climbing that we’re accustomed. We’ll check in tomorrow from Kislovodsk.
Sign Up For Mt. Elbrus Northside August 2, 2019 Emails
I hope you all have a safe and fun climb! What an adventure! I looking forward to following you on this amazing journey
Posted by: Kelly Nyquist on 8/7/2019 at 3:17 pm
Looks amazing have a safe climb!! We’re following along
Posted by: Sean on 8/6/2019 at 7:49 pm
July 13, 2018
Friday, July 13, 2018 - 8:07 PM PT
Today, around 7:45am, your ESS-Peru Team was standing on top of Pisco Oeste! Due to weather yesterday, we made the climb from Base Camp at 15,200’ rather than moving camp higher on the mountain. The ‘audible’ paid off, and we were lucky to spend most of our 12-hour day of climbing under clear skies! The views from Pisco are famous in the Cordillera Blanca, as you’re surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains in the range. We spent a good while on the summit today, just below 19,000’, enjoying our last summit of the trip to its fullest. The climbing was superb to boot. The unsettled weather over the past few days laid down a fresh coat of light snow throughout the range. What a treat it was to break trail above 18,000’! After our climb, most of us settled into our tents all afternoon, recovering from our long day. Tomorrow, the comforts of city living await in Huaraz. We’ll send pics when we arrive! Until then, buenos noches.
RMI Guides Robby Young, Alan Davis, William, and Peru Team ‘Cuy’
Congrats to everyone on another awesome achievement!
Posted by: Paul M Meese on 7/14/2018 at 3:57 am
August 16, 2017
The Mt. Elbrus North Side expedition is a wrap. As I write, I am sitting in the Amsterdam airport, and the team is in the process of scattering to the winds; some will continue traveling, while others are headed home to family and friends. It’s amazing that the trip is already over, as it flew by. We spent yesterday on a walking tour of the best cathedrals, gardens, and palaces of St. Petersburg. The sheer size and scale of St. Isaac’s Cathedral was stunning, the luminous mosaics of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood were fascinating, and the history of the founding of the city and derive during WWII were enlightening. We wandered through the Hermitage, as enthralled with the architecture and ornate rooms as we were with the collection of some of the world’s finest art. Degas, Renoir, Michalangelo, Picasso, and so many more were on display. We finished up the trip with a delightful boat tour in the River Nieva, seeing St. Petersburg from the vantage that most in 1800 would have seen it, via the canals. Finally we gathered one last time at the Jerome for a last celebration dinner before we parted.
It’s been a fantastic trip, with an smashing bunch of new friends. We had great weather, a perfect summit day, built a hut, and tried to become a bit more worldly along the way. So many thanks to this group of climbers. Mike and I had so much fun, and we look forward to crossing paths in the mountains again soon!
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Mike Uchal
Pete and Mike-Thanks for taking great care of the team! This wife and mother appreciates what you guys do. I am looking forward to hearing all about the trip. God Bless.
Posted by: Christy Cunningham on 8/16/2017 at 1:33 pm
August 13, 2017
We said goodbye to Elbrus Base Camp and our newly made friends yesterday morning and climbed back into the 4x4 sprinter van for the drive out to Kislovodsk, but not before putting another couple of hours into the hut, finishing the roof. What’s left is some trim work and flooring. It was fun to leave knowing that we had left a small mark of our passing, and had helped in some small way.
The drive out was as exhilarating as the drive in, bouncing and grinding our way up the rough dirt track with the steep green slopes of the Caucasus just to the right of our wheels. Once we reached pavement everyone let out a collective breath and settled in. Once in Kislovodsk, we did what every climber does after a long expedition: took showers, shaved, and went looking for food and drink. Those comforts of town feel so much more pleasurable after being deprived of them for a little while. We made merry, celebrating one last night as a full team, and convincing the DJ at the restaurant to bring a little of home back by playing some Garth Brooks.
This morning we will part ways with a few of our team members as they head for home, and the rest of us head to St. Petersburg to spend a day exploring the art, architecture and culture of another great Russian city. We’ll try to send some photos!
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Mike Uchal, and team
- Amy, Lavine, and Shanty
Posted by: Amy Kabia on 8/14/2017 at 10:27 am
Thanks for the videos! Evan says, “Have fun exploring!” Did y’all get a team picture?
Posted by: The Hickmott's on 8/14/2017 at 7:59 am
August 12, 2017
With little to do today besides organize our gear for the next leg of our adventure, we might have wondered how we would occupy ourselves for a day in Base Camp. The Cunninghams took care of that worry, organizing a barn raising of sorts to build a hut that our outfitter has been meaning to put together. With furring strips, floor boards, and siding located, we went to work, only slightly hampered by dodgy extension cords that didn’t always provide enough power from the generator to run a drill. The activity kept everyone occupied, and just as we put up the last siding on the walls and were considering the roof, the clouds moved over and the rain started falling.
We’ve been resting in tents, staying dry since. Chances are this storm quits soon, as each one has throughout our expedition, and we’ll enjoy a last night in base camp before returning to Kislovodsk early tomorrow. From there it will be in to St. Petersburg and the finale of our trip. We’re looking forwards to showers and Shashlik (the local barbeque) tomorrow.
From Russia with love,
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Mike Uchal, and team
These updates have been great!
Good to see that the Cunninghams are doing well. Take care all, and prayers for a safe return.
Posted by: Deb Thummel on 8/13/2017 at 6:18 pm
Congratulations on a great Summit and teamwork in basecamp! Enjoy the rest of your journey and celebrate a great climb.
All good at home but look forward to Lee’s return home!! Love Ya!
Posted by: Diann on 8/12/2017 at 8:14 pm
August 11, 2017
Yesterday’s long day let everyone find some hard sleep through the night. The sun rises early this far north though, and by 7, we were all out of our tents working on breakfast. When we get to cache loads above throughout trips, our descents often get heavy. We took several meals up high in case of weather days, but with our perfect weather, we didn’t use them. That made for some larger loads on the descent, but since we only had to walk downhill for a few hours, everyone doubled down and got the job done. By just after noon, we were in Base Camp, with tents set up, and a fast moving, rapidly darkening cloud approaching. We popped up tents, and then sure of our homes, set about to enjoying the low altitudes and green grass. We started an energetic volley ball game, Russia v. US. in the end we really aren’t sure who won, as each team had bright spots, but the approaching rain forced a draw.
As we understand it right now, it is high tourist season in the Caucasus, and there are not hotel rooms available tomorrow on short notice, so we will spend one more day at Base Camp, and them make our way to Kislovodsk. It’s really not that bad a deal since we are in a beautiful valley with hiking, volley ball, and springs that out forth sparkling water naturally.
For now, we are happy to listen to the sheep baa, the shepherds whistle, and enjoy each other’s company after a very successful climb.
On The Map
Kelly and Josh,
You guys are using your carpentry skills, so remember that GMS needs a picture hung!
Love you guys, and so glad the team had such a great mountain top experience.
See you soon.
Posted by: Sandy Cunningham on 8/12/2017 at 10:59 am
Congratulation everyone!.. Enjoyed following each day.
Posted by: Stacy on 8/12/2017 at 7:40 am
August 10, 2017
Hi, this is Pete Van Deventer with the Elbrus-Northside crew calling in. We are back at Camp 1 after a really successful summit day. Couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect. We woke up this morning to warm temps, clear skies, and not a breath of wind. We made our way up relatively quiet until we merged with the southside route at the Saddle, and then we could see the line of climbers coming from that route, but we made our own switchbacks and stayed out of the traffic and cruised up to the summit in pretty good style. One hundred percent of our folks stood on top today. A really good day all the way around. A special shout out to Josh, who ended up being pretty motivated and roped up with our local guide, Sasha, and they made another trip from there over to the east side in only about an hour, so they tagged both summits. We all descended to Lenz Rocks and stopped there for about an hour and packed up camp, and then made our way back down to Moraine Camp, Camp 1. We are tucked in here, inside our tents and we’re out to enjoy a pizza dinner from Nina, the cook here. She makes amazing stuff. The plan is tomorrow to head down to Base Camp and we’ll take our time getting down there and spend the evening. Then the cars will come for us the day after that to take us to Kislovodsk. Everybody will be back in touch with loved ones soon and everyone sends their best. It’s been a really good day here on the northside of Elbrus. Everybody’s super excited. Talk later.
RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer calls after a successful Elbrus summit via the Northside.
On The Map
Congratulations Sonam! You put your heart to it and you did it! Proud of you!
Posted by: Ephrem on 8/11/2017 at 9:22 pm
Congrats Lisa! Can’t wait to hear all about your trip and see photos. Love, the Zaia crew
Posted by: Kelly on 8/11/2017 at 7:03 am
August 9, 2017
We are that much closer to touching the ceiling of Europe. After a bit of a blustery night, things were beautiful and calm this morning. We packed up our tents, said goodbye for now to Alaska, the camp comfort dog, and headed back up our boot track from yesterday. Clouds built quickly and we wondered whether we would get wet, but the precip stayed away, and the respite from the sun was quite pleasant. We reached our new camp at 15,300’ in short order, and settled into pouring our homes back together. As we crawled in for a siesta, the clouds caught back up with us, starting with first hail, and then transitioning to snow. We are now enveloped in a bit of a winter wonderland, though the first hint of sunlight will change that.
We hope to see a clear sky and calm conditions when we wake up in the morning to give us our shot at the summit. We’re ready!
On The Map
Following this exciting climb!. Thinking of my cousin!... So amazing you can do this Robin!... Lying here warm and toasty. Hope the same for all of you!
Posted by: Stacy and Seth on 8/9/2017 at 7:44 pm
Good Luck Sonam and your climb team! We are all rooting for you at SkyKick!
Kelly and Team.
Posted by: Kelly Rodriguez on 8/9/2017 at 2:04 pm