July 18 - BAI Elbrus 2004 in St. Petersburg and Moscow

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BAI Elbrus 2004 group at the Hermitage

This first dispatch of the July 2003 [sic 2004] Berg Adventures Elbrus expedition is coming to you from Moscow. Last night we departed St. Petersburg, that beautiful vibrant city on the Gulf of Finland, which is 60 degrees north latitude. We boarded a train from Moscow about midnight, at that northern latitude the sky was still light as we went to what is called the Moscow station in St. Petersburg to come on our train to come here to Moscow. We loved our days in St. Petersburg this time of the year; it is always fascinating and beautiful what the local people call the white nights because of the long days.

Fun at the Welcome dinner: Pat and Dave We enjoyed living in our hotel in the Nevsky Prospekt which is considered to be the main street of St. Petersburg and in many ways it is the main street of Modern Russia. The people-watching was wonderful as we walked among famous monuments, museums and buildings.

On the 17th a group of us who were in town early, Stewart, Meredith, Maggie, Woodie, Charles Deke, Dennis and myself went to visit the summer Palace, or the Peterhof, which is some distance outside of the town. We enjoyed the beautiful fountains and buildings and we enjoyed seeing Russians out for a weekend walk and beautiful weather on the gulf of Finland. We returned to the hotel to find much of the rest of our crew Dave, Sarah, Dana, Pat as well as Bud Allen had arrived at the hotel.

That evening we had our welcome dinner; enjoyed Russian folk-dancing and relaxing and finally being all together in St. Petersburg; for those of us who were starting the trip there.

The historic battleship "Aurora"The 18th was a long day for us and a full one, we visited the Hermitage; we rode the metro in St. Petersburg and got off at Peter and Paul Fortress. It is always particularly interesting to me. We visited the battleship Aurora from where the shot was fired that signalled the beginning of the October revolution in 1917 that changed Russia for much of the 20th century. The history in this town is always fascinating to me and we enjoyed very much walking among the things that we knew so well from the history books.

Now in Moscow Anita has just joined us, we finally have our last member, she has been in France, actually at the Tour the France, and is going to have a lot of stories to share with us. We were on the train all night, she was on the plane all night, but we are going to head off now to see some of the sights of Moscow, a little blurry-eyed but we are going to get some coffee and breakfast here in the hotel and go see the Red Square and some of the other prominent sights in Moscow. We will be here tonight and of course tomorrow we will be heading down to the Caucasus Mountain where we will be doing our climbing.

BAI group ready to depart for the Peterhof summer palace.

It was still very light at 11 PM when we arrived to board the midnight train to Moscow

At Moscow station, Charles presented all the women on the climb with flowers

Part of our group celebrates the departure for Moscow on the midnight train

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