Climbing the highest peak in Europe was more of a cultural experience than a mountaineering accomplishment. That said, the climbing on summit day was challenging and rewarding and I found Russia a great place to visit.
In my normal manner for all my climbs I have added a few pages to my site to document the expedition:
In general, it was a good trip and I am very pleased with my personal performance on this climb. I had always planned to climb Elbrus from the traditional south side and quite honestly was looking forward to an easier climb after 9 weeks on Everest and 3 on Denali where I sat for 8 days at 17,000 feet waiting out storms!
I was excited to be climbing again with Phil Ershler of IMG, whom I summited Vinson with in December. But violence in the Elbrus region forced all guide services to cancelled their trips when local authorities officially closed the south side of the mountain for climbers.
The south side is the more popular option given that it is easier, shorter and has more facilities. The north, on the other hand, requires a long drive on horrible roads, a longer summit day and more load carrying. But Elbrus, being one of the 7 Summit, has a strong appeal so some teams continued to bypass checkpoints and successfully summited from the rural north side, albeit taking a few risks and inconveniences.
When I got the word from Phil while on Denali in mid July that he was forced to cancel our south side trip, he said he would do everything he could to help me find a quality guide service if I still wanted to climb on the north. You see, Phil understood my 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s and my strong desire to keep my 2011 schedule.
So with Phil’s above and beyond professionalism and friendship, I signed with AlpsIndustria (Alps) out of Moscow at the last possible minute to climb Mt. Elbrus’ north slopes. It was only 15 days after I had returned from Denali that I arrived in Russia. Without Phil’s help, this climb would never have happened.
We had a nice team of 9 climbers; 7 from Moscow and 2 from the US. You can read the trip report to see how it went for the team; but for me I was thrilled to have made the true summit (west) of Elbrus from the more interesting north side and to be able to send our message of hope, need and urgency about Alzheimer’s from the top of Europe.
There is a video of me making my satellite phone call to this blog in the trip report that I hope you enjoy.
OK, next up is Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa. I leave in mid September.
Memories are Everything