July 29 - Farewell to the Caucasus

At the Cheget Ski AreaAfter a successful Elbrus, this lovely mountain valley can be one if the most pleasant places in the world.

We returned to the lifts mid-day on the 28th to find they all operating. There were queues of Russian tourists out to enjoy the sunny day waiting to be taken up as we came down with our still overloaded packs and boxes of climbing equipment and food.

The return to the comforts of our lodge, where backgammon tournaments had taken place nightly in the 3rd floor during our first stay were welcomed. Beds with clean sheets, nicely prepared meals and showers felt great after our days high on Elbrus.

Vladimer and LarissaWe spent the 29th hiking in bright sunlight at the Cheget Ski Area, near out hotel. The twin summits of Elbrus towered above the valley as we rode the chair lifts up, then hiked to viewpoints and took hundreds of pictures. In the afternoon we shopped at the colorful stalls run by local women and ate shaslik, the local lamb barbeque.

The evening of the 29th was our farewell dinner. All our staff and friends from the area came to a barbeque held outdoors. The food was wonderful and the fellowship even better. A light rain drove us indoors after the food was finished, and several of the members as well as the Russian staff spoke accomplishments we had shared. As usual on BAI trips the mountain draws us to the area, but the people provide the lasting memories.

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