July 26 - Bad Weather Postpones our Summit Attempt

It’s the afternoon of the 26th of July and I’m calling you from the barrels.  The summit was not to be for us today, weather did not permit an attempt at all.  Last night as we went to bed in the barrels we began to hear raindrops falling on the barrels.  A storm was moving in from the Black Sea, soon there was lightning and it was a very stormy night.

Opus decides to ascend Elbrus without riding the snowcatI got up this morning at about 2:00am anyway and at 2:30am Olga had breakfast ready.  Opus had decided to ascend all the way to the summit of Elbrus from the barrels, the rest of us had ordered a snowcat to take us the distance to Prostokov Rock where we had been yesterday. But in the early morning storm we knew we had to wait and see what was going to happen.

The group got up and we had breakfast at 4:00am anyway but by 5:00am the snowcat driver and the Russian guides Vladimir, Alex and myself decided it wasn’t going to happen today.  So we went back to bed and woke up later in the morning to see that our decision had been a good one.  A very stormy day up on the mountain.

So we are staying relaxed, hanging out around the barrels and telling stories, laughing and taking naps.  This afternoon we walked down 1000 feet to the Mir Station, the top Tram station that we rode up to get to where we are now and we visited the very impressive memorial that reads 1941 to 1945 listing the names of soldiers who died in the resistance against the Germans.

If you are wondering what it is like in the barrels, it’s really not a bad place to hang out in during bad weather as we did today.  The beds are quite large and we have two barrels for the 12 of us, the 12 Berg Adventures climbers who are up here.  We packed and played with our gear some more today to get ready for tomorrow.

Russian guides Vladimir and AlexWhen the weather finally cleared today we walked downhill as I said and watched the big lenticular clouds on Elbrus and we knew that we had made a good decision today.  I’m confident tomorrow will be better.  I just went over to where our guides are staying and we have four guides with us, Vladimir and Alex who you have heard me mention before.  We also have another Vladimir who is a school teacher and marathon runner who is also our assistant guide and my good friend from years in the Caucasus Mountains.  The new guide this year is a young man named Sasha and I can tell he will be a great team member during our summit attempt

The mountain looms above, we got a look at the west summit, the winds are very high but I got a feeling that tomorrow is going to permit a summit attempt.  We’ll let you know tomorrow if we will try for the summit tomorrow.

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