Entries from Elbrus Northside
August 9, 2016
Our first clue that things had changed was that it was COLD this morning. Still cozied in our sleeping bags, we peeked out of the tent, and couldn’t find a cloud in the sky anywhere. Psyched to have a break from the rain, we layered up and headed out to fire up breakfast and get our train rolling uphill.
The climbing above Camp 1 follows a broad glacial shoulder almost straight up to Lenz Rocks above us. As fast as we can tell, most Russian climbers don’t believe in switchbacks. There is a wide trail punched into the snow, but it goes straight up. We made some switchbacks of our own, cruising up to our next camp in style, where we deposited a load of food and a bit of fuel, before returning. The downhill trail couldn’t be any better for making good time, and quickly we were back at our tents at 12,300’. The rain even stayed away for us to have a nice dinner outside together, and take some night shots of the moon rising over Elbrus’ twin summits.
If all goes well, we’ll pack up camp tomorrow to move to Lenz for the night and start our summit bid. The next couple of days should be busy!
Best from way up here,
On The Map
August 8, 2016
It rained last night. Then it fired off a couple blinding flashes of lightning with a throaty growl of thunder that rolled on and on for what seemed like minutes. Then it rained some more.
We did the only logical thing we could think of this morning and put on the brightest clothing we all could find and crawled out to eat a breakfast of champions: cocoa puff and coffee.
The rain eventually diminished and we grabbed empty packs and returned to our cache to be reunited with the rest of our gear. An afternoon of rest and staying dry led to dinner, which showed promise with a brief glimpse of the sun. But it was not to be; within 30 seconds of putting out the dinner call, the hail began, which became rain once again.
Despite the 110% humidity, spirits are high, and we keep looking upwards at our next step, the glacier climbing towards Lenz Rocks and eventually the summit. We shared our current reading endeavors, learning about the reality of fish farming, and the Russian stereotypes portrayed by Dostoyevsky. Tomorrow we will try for an acclimatization hike and small carry to Lenz, with an eye towards making that move the day after to start our summit push. We’ll see if that lines up with the weather’s ideas.
Best from a soggy camp one,
August 7, 2016
We’re tucked in to our nice new abode at 12,300’, at the foot of the glacier on the North side of Mt. Elbrus. The smooth roll continued today, as the deluge of rain that we listened to all night broke early this morning, letting us rise to cloudy skies that increasingly became blue. We packed up our camp, sorted through the final odds and ends that were going to come with us or stay in base camp, then shouldered packs and headed uphill again, this time for good. The terrain rolled by as clouds intermittently protected us from the sun, and after 5 hours of hard work, we reached our new digs. It took some time to level the gravel in this glacial moraine to yield tent platforms, but pretty soon we had a comfortable new home that will serve well for the next few days. Tomorrow we’ll retrieve our cache from just below, and spend some time reviewing our climbing skills.
The rain was kind enough to hold off long enough for us to enjoy a group dinner outside, but now it has returned. We’re going to head towards bed, thankful for dry tents and warm sleeping bags. We’ll check in tomorrow.
Thanks for following,
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and JM Gorum and team
On The Map
August 7, 2016
We had a wonderful day today. After waking to sunny skies overhead, we crawled out of our tents at a leisurely hour and enjoyed a nice breakfast in base camp. A few cows made it into the fenced in area of base camp overnight, and were apparently enjoying their breakfast as much as we enjoyed ours. After packing up and shoring up camp against our new bovine friends, we started working our way uphill towards Camp One.
The walk was quite pleasant, as we had a nice breeze, good company, and pleasant vistas all around. Mt. Elbrus was visible to us all day, and as we got closer, we were able to get a good view of the route, and climbers descending it. It looks to be in great shape, and everyone is excited. After about three hours we found a good spot to cache our gear, and divided it up into duffel bags. We descended with nearly empty packs, taking a detour to Mushroom Rocks. An interesting group of rock formations that look like, well, mushrooms. Very weird.
Upon arrival back at camp, snacking and napping commenced and continued until dinner time. We ate a fine meal of spaghetti and watched distant thunderstorms roll by. Tomorrow we will move to Camp One. Everyone is feeling good, and excited to get going uphill. You’ll hear from us again tomorrow.
RMI Guides JM Gorum and Pete Van Deventer
On The Map
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