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Entries from Elbrus Northside

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team move gear higher on the Mountain

Hello from 3800 Assault Camp (as our Russian friends call it). Since we were reunited with all of our gear yesterday and had some time to contemplate the piles, today was the perfect day to once again bump up a portion of that gear to our next camp at Lenz Rocks (about 15k). We woke to brilliant azure skies and cooler temps: perfect climbing weather. By 9 am we were donning harnesses and crampons, and clipping in to the climbing rope for the first time of the trip. The terrain below Lenz was our first snow climbing of the trip, and the conditions were perfect for cramponing. The group moved very well through the first stretch, but it began to feel like we were racing the weather a bit. First, a few errant clouds drifted across our climbing route on a light breeze, temporarily reducing our visibility. Then, just as we neared our destination, there was a distant rumble of thunder. At Lenz we didn’t rush with our cache, using the time at a new altitude to help our acclimatization, but we didn’t linger either. With our gear stored, we headed down into very low visibility and a couple of more distant rumbles. We moved very well downhill with light packs and some motivation, ultimately beating the weather to camp. Not long after we were tucked into tents snacking, the first flash of lightning alerted us that the storm had arrived. We sat, counting the seconds between flashes and cracks, listening to the tattoo of hail and graupel on the tent walls. By dinner time things had calmed down, and we ate dessert while watching spectacular colors play on the clouds as the sun set. We are hoping that our luck with the weather continues, and that tomorrow will give us the opportunity to move camp once again. We’ll be in touch tomorrow.

RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer, Jeff Martin, and Crew

Trevor I see that you are back in your element…...snow and ice…...what Canucks are raised on. Keep climbing baby.

Posted by: LD Carani on 8/9/2014 at 4:39 pm

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Retrieves Cache and Reviews Climbing Techniques

We had a good first night at Camp 1. Everyone is doing great and feeling strong.
We did sleep in a little this morning and woke up to a beautiful cloudless day. A welcome treat after the last few mornings of rain. After breakfast we headed downhill to pick up our cache that we left two days ago. It was a quick roundtrip and we were back in camp by lunch. Since it was a rest day, we fired up the stoves and had quesadillas for lunch and lounged around camp.
Starting tomorrow, we will be on the glacier for the rest of the climb. We wanted to get a little review in, so we went out on the glacier to practice some cramponing and ice ax arrest. We are all ready for tomorrow!
Now we are back at camp hydrating and trying to make a dent in our pile of snack food.
Dinner will come soon enough and we enjoying the late afternoon sun and the constantly changing colors on the upper mountain. What a view.
All the best,

RMI Guides Jeff Martin, Pete Van Deventer, and team

On The Map

Hello Jess and team.
Great to hear you all had a great day. 
We are all doing well here at home.
Love you sweetie!!

Posted by: Hector on 8/8/2014 at 4:15 pm

Sounds like a great day!
Hello to Bruce from all back home!
Isabelle is missing her buddy.
Go conquer that glacier.

Posted by: Joyce Pully on 8/8/2014 at 3:38 pm

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Moves to Camp 1

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

On The Map

Glad to hear you had better weather.
I am enjoying the blog and look forward to a new installment each day.
Best wishes for continued weather improvements and great climbing!

Posted by: Joyce Pully on 8/7/2014 at 2:58 pm

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Makes Carry to 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

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Arrives at Basecamp

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.


RMI Guides Jeff, Pete & Team

Great picture! Off to a challenging start!

Posted by: Kris on 8/6/2014 at 7:01 am

I hope the weather clears and it looks like it should on Thursday. We are all rooting for you - from our recliners of course. :) Wishing you great climbing!

Posted by: Joyce Pully on 8/6/2014 at 3:54 am

Mt. Elbrus: North Side Team Arrives in Kislovodsk

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

Have a wonderful climb everyone!  I hope you enjoy your 40th Birthday on this climb, John!

Posted by: Becky on 8/5/2014 at 7:56 am

Jess and team, have a great climb.  Love you wiffie!! we are all doing well here.

Posted by: Hector on 8/5/2014 at 3:27 am

Mt. Elbrus: Northside team tours Moscow

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.


RMI Guides Jeff Martin and Pete Van Deventer

Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Arrives in Moscow

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: Waterfall & Team See the Sights of St. Petersburg

This is the last day of the trip for us.  We’ve had a really nice day here in St. Petersburg.  We kicked off the morning by beating the crowd to the Hermitage Museum.  Once we got in we disbanded and everyone took in the seemingly endless art works at their own pace.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy the experience there.

Now we’ve all met up again for a boat tour on the canals.  The weather is really nice here with plenty of sun and just a little crispness in the air.

Tomorrow we’ll all head to the airport for our flights home.  It’s too bad the weather kept us from getting to the top of Mt. Elbrus but this group has really made the most of the situation.  Pete and I feel really lucky that everyone had such a positive attitude throughout the trip.

Thanks guys!

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall

Mt. Elbrus: North Side Team Explores St. Petersburg

Greetings from St. Petersburg, Russia.  This has been one of the two days without rain on the trip and we are psyched!  We really had a great tour of the city with our local guide Tatiana.  We visited St. Issac’s cathedral, Peter and Paul’s cathedral and fortress, and the Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood.

Tomorrow we’ll be touring the Hermitage museum and then taking an evening canal tour for the last day of the trip.

Here’s a photo from St Issac’s.

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall

James and Pete…Different kind of summit…Did prez ask to meet the famous mountaineers - you and crew ?...Enjoy the sights…Best Waltero

Posted by: Walter on 9/6/2013 at 5:27 am

Janet & Peter, Random says 4 hooves up for the summit tomorrow!  Resting and relaxing at home, Gretchen says “I could have done the 1st 17 miles with you!”  We are hoping the weather will be perfect and that you have a great climb to the top.  Cheers!!!
Pat & Jeanne

Posted by: Pat & Jeanne on 9/5/2013 at 9:23 pm

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