With McKinley still in my thoughts everyday, I was unpacking my equipment one day and had a thought.
Elbrus expeditions leave soon and I couldn’t be in better shape to tackle that peak than right now. I got in contact with IMG and agreed a good rate, paid my fees and started to re-pack all my gear!
This mountain was not like the others. There were tough moments on summit day but most nights we were based in a hotel in the valley and we would trek up to the mountain each day for acclimatisation so it didn’t feel too bad. This could have also been because of what I had just put myself through on McKinley.
I won’t say this mountain is easy as most clients struggled on our expedition but for someone who is fit and has a bit of winter mountaineering experience, they shouldn’t find this too much of a challenge.
We spent a few days acclimatising in the valley below Mt Elbrus which was full of lush green rolling hills covered in flowers and running streams. One day we had some ice training (for the new comers) higher up on the mountain but once again we descended back down into the valley to sleep in our hotel.
The night before summit day we slept in one of the local guides mountain huts which was built out of wood and metal sheeting so compared to our tents of Aconcagua and Denali, it was a five star hotel.
Summit day was long. I think 8 of the 11 clients eventually pulled out that day and turned around due to exhaustion. Despite this mountain being relatively straight forward and not technical at all, summit day is long and tiring.
Our lead guide was once again Mike Hamill who, after all the other clients turned back accompanied by other guides, was the only guide left to take the remaining clients to the top.
I summited Mt Elbrus (5642m — the highest point of the European Continent) at 10:30am on the 27th of July 2013.
This mountain was not in the same condition as McKinley. The Russians didn’t seem to have the same environmental values as the rangers of Denali National Park. The valleys were nice enough but up on the mountain once we got to the snow, the lower reaches of Elbrus looked like an industrial wasteland with rubbish, machine parts, abandoned huts and oil drums everywhere.
It was not a pleasant place to be (apart from the top which was untouched by the filth) and the most interesting aspect of this expedition were the tours of Moscow and St Petersburg before and after the trip plus the town of Terksol where we were based for the duration of the week long expedition.