July 16 - Stretching our legs and meeting old friends

This is Wally Berg calling from the Baksan Valley in the Caucasus Mountains.

Beginning our climb from Djantugan campToday we began stretching our legs in the mountains. We began hiking from Djantugan Camp to 5300m (17,384 ft).

I’ve always loved this camp. It is full of Russian families on camping trips and sometimes, as we saw today, youth groups training in mountain skills. Today I saw some old Russian friends, familiar faces – I don’t know their names but I remember them from past years – who are mountaineers that were heading off on their own adventures.

We enjoyed wishing one another the best as we set off on the trail.

We only climbed 500 meters today but it was great to move and begin to get acclimatized. At the Kashkatash Glacier we pulled our crampons out and got a feel again for what it is like to move on glaciers with crampons.

Near the end of today's hikeNow we’ve returned to the hotel. And I should mention that when we arrived yesterday, it was great to see the familiar faces and friends of the hotel. The group had a sauna and some took a dip in the swimming pool here before we came to dinner tonight.

We’re having a great meal, we’re going to rest up tonight and tomorrow we’ll continue with our training and climbing.

Above: Comet Hale-Bopp over Mt. Elbrus from Pik Terskol, Caucasus, April '97. ©"Observers", AlltheSky.com