August 25 – The One Point Crampon

The entire group has now moved up on to the side of Mount Elbrus. We are now at 12,000 feet at Garabashi Hut for what we call the Barrels. This group decided to stay down here - it is a pretty deluxe set up we have and we are enjoying ourselves down here. The weather has been absolutely amazing today, we are well into the afternoon after 3:00 p.m. and still not a cloud in the sky. We have been looking at the twin summits of Mount Elbrus the whole way up.

Coming up, as you know we rode the cable cars and finally the chairlift. It was David Pearcy who commented on all the different types of transportation that we’ve had on this trip. We were on boats in the Neva River back in St. Petersburg, do you remember, of course various private buses all over Russia; including that GAZ 66 4- wheel drive I described the other day. And finally of course, the cable cars, chair lift and the snow cat which is still coming. All of the group may not choose to use it, but the snow cat will be around when we begin our summit morning for the transport up to Pastukhov Rocks.

It is Sunday here in the Caucasus and still a big season for Russian tourists, so besides the climbers who are staying here at the Barrels, there is an amazing assortment of folks from cities all over Russia out on a mountain holiday enjoying the sun on the glacier. You see a lot of different types of attire, in particular, I think that the most notable thing that we saw today was a woman get off the chairlift in high heels and walk over toward the glacier with her friends. We ended up referring to her high heels as her “one - point crampons,” but she was having a great time and of course all of these folks ride the cable car and the chairs back down and now in the late afternoon there are just some climbers still at the hut.

I ought to mention that Gary Kenyon had his knee swell up a little, one knee, and the other day and he stayed down in the valley while we went up to climb Gamachi Peak. He stayed at the Lodge and he had advice to ultimately put ice and heat on his knee. Lara, who you know from our last trip, is pretty skilled in sports medicine and helped him out a bit. He had recovered enough that the day we did our climb, he actually got a ride up and went on a pretty long hike up to the Observatory. I am looking down onto the Observatory now and it is really an interesting part of this area. The location from which that amazing photograph that we have posted in the Berg Adventures website of the Hale-Bopp Comet over Mount Elbrus a few years ago, is the site from where it was taken.

Gary had an interesting visit to the Observatory anyway and he was lucky enough to get to walk up there and look around. His knee seems to be doing fine and he is back with the group. He's also being joined by the last two of our Russian guides: Evgeney, who is a fine alpinist and an excellent guide, and the second Vladimir who is a physical education teacher at the local school in Terskol, and also a marathon runner. So along with these guides and Nadia, who is our cook of course, a wonderful woman and a ski instructor here in the valley in the winters.

We have a great crew, really a fun staff, and we are feeling great on our first night at 12,000 feet. I can’t promise you that the weather will hold, but we’ve got a strong team and good support so we are going to make a good attempt on Elbrus regardless, when the time comes in the next few days.

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