Entries from Elbrus Northside
August 5, 2016
The mountain was calling and we answered. We spent the last two days making our way towards Elbrus. Our apologies for the lack of a dispatch yesterday, but the small city of Kislovodsk that is our jumping off point is not a hotbed of wifi access. Some smooth flights got us that far yesterday, and we spent the afternoon shopping for food and putting the final touches on our expedition preparations. We were overjoyed when the bags for three of our team members finally arrived in Moscow, and they were able to grab them and rejoin us late last night. The woes of travel.
This morning we boarded a new off-road sprinter van type machine that our driver Alexei referred to as his “Russian hammer,” and started the winding drive through the steppes of the Caucasus. After an hour and a bit we left the pavement and set out along the four wheel road - which at times had our hearts creeping towards our mouths with the precipitous slopes that drop from the side of the road - that takes us to base camp at 8,300’. We arrived, said goodbye to Alexei, whose jolly laugh had kept the mood light, and set up our compound. An afternoon hike into the surrounding hills let us stretch our legs and find an incredible waterfall that cuts straight through a large rock ridge, reemerging on the other side. An afternoon siesta led to dinner, and just as we were ready to serve it up, the rain started with a few flashes of lightning. We retreated to our tents with our meals, and are now getting ready to hit the hay as we listen to rain drops beat a percussion on our tents, happy to be dry.
All the best from here,
On The Map
August 3, 2016
Last night’s sleep was refreshing for all, and everyone looked chipper as they sidled in to breakfast. That was good because we had a whirlwind day ahead of us. We headed over to the Resurrection Gate of Red Square to Victoria, our tour guide. After a slow start waiting in the queue to see a national treasure, Lenin’s entombed body, things got going with a tour through St Basil’s Cathedral, abyssal made up of 10 churches, all in the same foundation, and to the GUM, the large Soviet era department store that now carries the biggest brands (Prada, Gucci, Armani, etc.). We made a stop for ice cream, then cruised around the Kremlin wall to see the changing of the guards, and on in to the Kremlin, and more cathedrals. We closed the tour down with lunch at a delicious Ukrainian restaurant, and then into the afternoon to sort details and nap. Dinner at a restaurant in the nearby design and architecture school went long, but was delicious, and no one minded given the good company we are in. All in all, we had a stellar day, and are excited to take steps towards the mountain early tomorrow morning. By tomorrow evening, we will be in Kislovodsk, ready to launch to Elbrus Northside Base Camp, where the mountain adventure begins, and we leave the city life behind for a bit.
We are very much looking forward to it!
Sounds like the trip is terrific, if a bit soggy. Have a safe climb - looking forward to hearing more. Have fun Ed!
Posted by: Gayle Hutton on 8/8/2016 at 6:50 pm
Looking forward to reading the blog! Wishing all of you a terrific and safe climb.
Posted by: Gayle Hutton on 8/4/2016 at 9:33 pm
August 2, 2016
We have all assembled in the Russian capital city of Moscow. Most of the group arrived this afternoon after nearly 24 hours, or in some cases more, of traveling. Needless to say, everyone is tired, a bit jetlagged, and we’re still waiting on a few bags, but psyched to be here and ready to go. We caught a great dinner down the street at a gastropub, and then are now headed to bed to sleep off the travel and be ready for our tour of the Kremlin and nearby cathedrals tomorrow. Thanks for following our Russian adventure, we’ll be in touch again soon.
Have fun dad! Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks! -Mitch F.
Posted by: Mitch Freeman on 8/5/2016 at 10:56 am
Great expedition Pete + crew…Methinks you are a rookie to Russia right ? Best Waltero
Posted by: Walter Glover on 8/3/2016 at 4:00 am
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