Forum Index > Trip Reports > From Russia, with Love (Elbrus)
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Snowdog
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 3:03 pm 
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I've been home a couple of weeks, so felt it was time I put up a report. I recently traveled to Russia to visit St. Petersburg, Moscow & attempt Mt. Elbrus, the highest point in Europe.

From Wikipedia: Mt. Elbrus is the highest mountain in Russia and in Europe, and the tenth most prominent peak in the world. A dormant volcano, Elbrus is in the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia, near the border with Georgia.

*I had trouble with Flickr writing this- so pics are not labeled individually, just Album name- sorry.*

My trip began with arrival in St. Petersburg. At welcome dinner I met my climbing partners & guides.  The group included several fellas from Canada, an Italian, a Serbian, and Americans from Texas, Colorado, & east coast.  Some were on a 7 Summit quest- one had done Everest already. My guides were Vern & Carole Tejas- who are legends in the guiding & climbing world. Vern is coming out with a book in August called Seventy Summits. I felt privileged and honored to be climbing with them. borank.gif  They were personable & so knowledgable about the region. They also love guiding & helping people reach their goals, and it shows.
We spent the first few days touristing around. A visit to The Hermitage provided 'overstimulation' due to viewing priceless works of art for hours & hours. We also visited the Peter & Paul Fortress, with tombs of Tzars Nicholas & family.

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After St. Petersburg, we flew to Mineral Vody. Flying domestically in Russia was challenging. Trying to figure out what gate we were to go to was, um, confusing.
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In the airport, I saw interesting things- a Putin calendar
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And chips in flavors never before seen!
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Flight was delayed several hours, then had long, scary drive up Baksam valley to our hut in Terskol.
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The driver spoke no English, and was speeding so much & passing recklessly, all while a Russian Bollywood movie was playing overhead. We were all terrified.  eek.gif  We finally resorted to Google translate to ask him to slow down. He did- somewhat.
The next days were acclimation hikes near the Georgia border.

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This was an interesting way to slow down an avalanche!
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After a few days in the valley, we ascended to our "pods" or barrels at about 12.700'.
photo 4
photo 4
photo 1
photo 1

We would spend the next several days here, doing further acclimation hikes, self-arrest practice, etc.
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The self arrest day was exhausting because we did every position over & over- for hours. "Falling" and then hiking back up the 50-60' over & over- at 13K.
Finally it was summit day- we left the pods at about 3am. It was bitterly cold with high winds.
I had on: thick wool base layers, a light puffy, a hard shell, a wool hat, two hoods, THEN a BIG puffy over all that, with hood up. Face mask, googles , 8000 meter mittens with hand warmers. Double boots with toe warmers.

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And finally, after many hours of climbing, some on fixed lines, we summited.  Most made it. cool.gif
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Some had a sense of humor, even at this altitude.
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We had 3 physicians on the trip one of which did the Docs without Borders.

After summit day we descended back to Terskol.  The next day we went to a "fishing cafe" where one catches your lunch! Super fun!
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Then it was back down the twisty road to fly to Moscow. We spent a few days here as well. It was quite cosmopolitan- and huge- over 14 million people. Visited the Kremlin, Red Square, and many other sites. Then an insanely early departure- 2am! for a 6am flight. Moscow has worse traffic woes than we do!
This was a really enjoyable trip both culturally and for the adventure.  I enjoyed Russia- it's people, it's history and especially the Baksam valley- so unspoiled.

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'we don't have time for a shortcut'
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RichP
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 3:29 pm 
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Congratulations! You do the coolest stuff.

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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BarbE
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 3:37 pm 
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Snowdog wrote:
Elbrus
Elbrus

Not a bit surprised you'd be leading the pack  biggrin.gif  Awesome trip and pictures!
Congrats on tagging another of the Seven Summits.  up.gif
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Distel32
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 5:14 pm 
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up.gif
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zephyr
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 5:40 pm 
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Snowdog wrote:
And finally, after many hours of climbing, some on fixed lines, we summited.  Most made it. cool.gif

Elbrus
Elbrus

Wow!  Just wow.  The places you go.  Congratulations!  ~z
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Waterman
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 5:53 pm 
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"The hermitage provided over stimulation"
The Jordan staircase blew my mind walking in. So much great art. Counted 27 Rembrandts in one room alone.
Wonderful country to visit.

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
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dicey
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 6:22 pm 
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Nice!!
I really like the blowing snow backlit climbers photo cool.gif

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I'm not always sure I like being older but being less stupid has advantages.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32121172@N00/sets/
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mbravenboer
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 7:40 pm 
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Looks great! Very interesting trip. Glad you had such a good time. I guess winter trips here will now be mild compared to that cold summit day!
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Zloi
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 8:17 pm 
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Congrats on a challenging summit! Can you clarify what your summit date was and who your summit mates were? Was this a paid-guide climb? (You can PM me if you don't want this conversation public.)  Thank you.
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geyer
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 8:43 pm 
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Snowdog wrote:
Elbrus
Elbrus
Elbrus
Elbrus

EPIC
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Gimpilator
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 9:10 pm 
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Wonderful!   up.gif  I might have some questions for you after I return home from my current trip, if you're open to that.  Hope to get there sometime in the next few years.

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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw7tyvnbUagAxIxEuJE5Udw
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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Chico
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 9:41 pm 
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Snowdog wrote:
Elbrus
Elbrus

That is so funny.

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http://capitolriders.org
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Matt
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PostThu Jul 27, 2017 11:53 pm 
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Great trip and photos.  How was the beer in Russia?

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Jim Dockery
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PostFri Jul 28, 2017 6:29 am 
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Great TR, congrats on Elbrus. I too loved traveling in the old USSR when I was there many years ago.  up.gif  up.gif

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Stefan
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PostFri Jul 28, 2017 7:43 am 
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wow.  that is so awesome for you!  congrats on having a great time!  I still can't believe the Alaskan legend Vern Tejas is still guiding--wowza.

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Art is an adventure.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > From Russia, with Love (Elbrus)
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