July 26 - Getting Ready for our Summit Attempt

LIsten to Audio of Wally's Call (.wav)

Mt. Elbrus. Photo by Scott Wagner.

Now we are at the Barrels, these huts, if you will, at 12,300 feet (3,750m). Yesterday we moved up from the valley 6,000 feet (1,830m) so this is our big jump in elevation getting in position to climb Elbrus. The BarrelsEvery time I come up here it’s different, as you probably know we normally ride a series of cable cars and a chair lift to get here.

The bottom station we were informed yesterday that the cable car was under maintenance and we thought we would have to walk. We saw other climbers putting on big packs and starting up the road for a long grueling hike up to the middle tram station. But as it turned out our friends here helped us get a truck ride, a big military type open back cargo truck with tires that must have had at least a 3 foot diameter, the thing was huge.

We had great fun sitting in the back of this thing riding up the steep road, then we road a cable car and for the last section up here to the barrels we actually hiked which was good for our acclimatization. Although we had a snowcat bring all our food and heavy equipment up. Lara is preparing excellent meals here for us and we are getting in position here to climb higher here on Elbrus.

Russian "Elbrus" signAn amazing group here, very compatible in terms of physical abilities, we move well together but also lots of laughter and good spirit. Remember that we have quite an age spread here, Maggie Peeke is 15 and Charles Martin in 67, 15 to 67 is our age spread. But we have great times together and I think this group is going to do really well on Elbrus.

If the weather holds we should be given an attempt as soon as tomorrow. Today I’m standing here looking in the early morning south towards the main ridge… (lost transmission) … where we climbed to from our Green Hotel a short time ago, and I’m looking north towards the twin summits of Elbrus. It’s a beautiful clear morning, a couple more days like this and some great things should happen during this BAI 2004 Mount Elbrus expedition.

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