July 21 - Baksam Valley

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With our friends in the Caucasus mountains.

Bud enjoys the sights in Red Square.After we left in the evening for Moscow... [inaudible]. In the morning we met Olga, who for years has been our favourite city tour guide in Moscow and we took off to see the Kremlin, to see Red square, and marvel at the beauty of St. Basil Cathedral. We had a bus, busy on Moscow traffic. We made our way around the sights... [inaudible]

[We're] excited to be in Moscow even though our travel schedule has been rather intense. [inaudible] Woodie wanted to hit the metro, so he was sort of our guide for the Moscow metro. We went around a bit and most of the group had dinner [inaudible] at Red Square. Good hard night sleep in the hotel in Moscow after all the travel, then on the morning of the 20th we had to brave our way back out of the Moscow traffic. It took quite long but a very comfortable ride out to the airport and of course we flew down to Mineralnye Vody in the Caucasus, a 2-hour flight over what it seemed to be endless rich farmland and we landed on a totally different part of Russia.

Who's buried in Lenin's Tomb, Woody?Vladimir, who you may remember from a couple of years back on Berg Adventures climbs as our guide; he wasn’t with us last year because he was the head of the Ukrainian Antarctic Station, he went it over in Antarctica and had to miss the Russian climbing season. Vladimir and his charming wife Larissa met us with their familiar warm friendly faces at the airport in Mineralnye Vody and we made our way down to the Baksam Valley. Now we are at our lodge, which is our best kept secret, we don’t really like to let the word out as what a great scene we have down here, friends of these climbers will be hearing about it when they get home, we have a great life, with good friends here in the valley; we are getting ourselves settled in.

Loading-up for the trip to the airport.Cool air, a big cloudy and mist around the Caucasus but the temperature feels great as we are back in the mountain area. The group is settling in and today, which is the 21st, we will be off on a hike in the Caucasus Mountain, just to stretch our legs and to begin our acclimatization for our Elbrus climb coming up in a few more days.

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