August 7, 2007 – A Successful Summit Day

A sunrise start on Mt. Elbrus

12:35 AM

It’s 12:35 am and I am calling you again, just like yesterday from Pastukhov Rocks, at 3500 meters (15,000 feet). Yesterday, we climbed 900 meters (2952 feet) from the Barrels, our camp down at the top of the lifts, up to this point. Today, we took a snow cat ride back to this point and we are now going to continue 1100 meters more (3,610 feet) to the summit of Mt. Elbrus.

It’s a perfect day. I’ve rarely seen such warmth at this time of the morning and at this altitude in the Caucasus. I know that all seven Berg Adventures Climbers will be fine to go even though they are somewhat apprehensive. They have shared concerns regarding how to dress, how to use the equipment and how this climb on Mt. Elbrus is going to go. However, we are ready and the seven of them and four Berg Adventures guides are going to take off now. We are going to move slowly and it is going to take many, many hours to ascend to the top. There are going to be a lot of changes in conditions along the way but I am confident that we are going to be just fine.

We woke up this morning at 12:30 AM and Olga had a nice breakfast on the table at 1:00 AM, so we are ready to head out on Mt. Elbrus in the next hour. I am hoping to call you from the top. I hope the weather stays clear and I will let you know how we do today, August 7th, our summit day on Mt. Elbrus.

Approaching the summit on a clear day

10:00 AM

It’s just past 10:00 AM and I am proud to tell you that I am calling from the very summit of the tower of Europe, the summit of Mt. Elbrus and I am here with the entire Berg Adventures team! We had a really successful ascent this morning, the team moved really well. James, John and Alex, along with the Russian guide Lax, took off and reached the summit almost exactly 7 hours after they began at 9:30 AM. Only 20 minutes behind them, Wes, Lida, Patrick, Francois, myself and two Russian guides were standing on the top. We were all on the top together!

Riding in the snow cat

3:00 PM

It’s about 3:00 PM now and I am calling you from back down at 3800 meters (12,467 feet) and the team has returned safely off the mountain. I am sitting next to the glacier looking back up at Mt. Elbrus and now it is completely covered in clouds showing us that we were indeed very lucky with the weather on our climb today. The entire team performed really well. They are a bit tired right now, and I have to tell you that they are one exhausted group of climbers.

When we got on that snow cat this morning we had to have our crampons on as we loaded into the snow cat because we knew that when we got off, it would be on the steep part of the slope and we would need our crampons immediately. We kept our crampons on all day as we climbed up into the saddle and up onto the west summit of Mt. Elbrus and all the way back down. So, it’s been 12 hours that this team has had their crampons on today! Right now, I am watching them peel those crampons and double plastic boots off and get ready to relax, knowing that they have successfully climbed Mt. Elbrus.

We are really happy now because we have three nights left in the Caucasus. We are going to be up here for one more night at our 3800 meter (12,467 feet) hut camp and then we are going to return to that wonderful hotel with the great staff that were so gracious and welcoming to us. We will be staying there for two nights with them, so please stay tuned – the dispatches are not over. The team will have a lot of fun relaxing in this mountain paradise and savoring their accomplishments in their final days with the people in the Caucasus Mountains. It’s going to be great and we will give you updates as the days go by.

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All Text, Images and Audio Files © Berg Adventures International 2007

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