July 27 - Reaching the Summit of Elbrus

(No audio for this dispatch, satellite transmission too broken)

Summit day on Elbrus.

It’s the 27th of July in the evening and I am happy to report that 12 out of the 13 members of the BAI 2004 Elbrus expedition were on the summit at about 1:00pm this afternoon. Our day started when we got on a snowcat at 4:00am for the ascent of the first 2500 feet of the route. We climbed this the day before and to help get us to the summit today we decided to take a snowcat ride.

Early in the climb when we were out of the snowcat Dana’s energy was down, we pushed hard and we talked about her inability to get a rhythm or feel any strength. Some two hours after we left she did decide to come down. She came down with Katarina, the Russian female guide who’s with us and I confirmed with Dana after getting back here this afternoon that it was a good decision, she felt very tired for much of the day.

But as I said 12 of us were on the summit. You wouldn’t believe it but the two old guys who were over 60, Woodie who is 63 and Charles who is 67 reached the summit first today with our Russian guide Alex. They were both very strong and waited for the others at the summit.

[Lost satellite transmission, resumes later in the dispatch. The following details were provided by Wally Berg via a Satellite telephone conversation with the BAI office]

“Dennis Comfort has been on other climbs with Wally throughout the years and this year on Elbrus Dennis was the strongest he has ever been as he gained the summit. Stuart Peeke climbed with Wally on Mount Vinson a few years ago and Stuart always spoke about summiting a mountain with his family. Today was very special for Stuart as he reached the summit with his two daughters Maggie and Meredith.

David, Patric and Sarah reached the summit. David Sibilisky’s grandmother had passed away unexpectedly at the very beginning or David’s trip and David had to struggle with the decision to stay or leave. He decided to stay and climb Mount Elbrus in memory of her. David called his grandfather from the summit and shared a touching moment with him over the satellite phone.

Anita McMullin had prepared banners for her family and she proudly had her picture taken at the summit as she displayed those banners for her family”

[Remaining text is from Wally’s audio dispatch]

The reason I didn’t call in from the top was by the time we all made our satellite phone calls and took our pictures I had to tell the group that even though this was probably the very best day for weather I’ve ever seen on Elbrus that we had to get out of there and begin our descent.

Deke called Corrine back home and I know Bud Allen called Terri. There were several other satellite phone calls made from the summit to families so I decided to forgo my traditional summit call until we got back down. We are all safe back down here tonight, very tired, we’ll return back to the valley tomorrow. We got two more days in this wonderful place to hang out with friends, savor our accomplishments and we will continue to report to you.

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