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Title image - BAI takes you to: Mt.Elbrus
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Elbrus Expedition Dispatch

July 31, 2008 – Team Gives Elbrus 110%

Views of Elbrus on a clearer day

Views of Elbrus on a clearer day

Our day did in fact begin very early on the 31st. I was awake before 1:00 am and so was Dave; knowing that he would need to take off soon for his and Sasha’s attempt to climb Elbrus all the way from the barrels. Everyone else was up at 2:00 am and Tamara had our breakfast ready at 2:30 am. We then learned that the snow cat, which was going to take most of the group up to Pashtukov Rocks, was moving slower than usual because of the slushy snow that had not frozen overnight.

The Caucasus has weather that is very much affected by the fact that it is 18,500 ft above sea level on Mt. Elbrus and it’s just inland from the Black Sea. We can get big storms and some relatively warm weather.

We were very encouraged when we got up this morning and saw stars overhead but it turned out to be another bad weather day on Mt. Elbrus. We finally got out of our snow cat at 5:15 am and then began to climb into worsening weather. Visibility is always a big factor in storms on this mountain. So of course, with 5 guides, myself and 4 Russian guides, we were staying close together. Dave and Sasha were right behind us when we stepped out of the snow cat, but we couldn’t see them and we could hardly see one another in the poor visibility.

We were also joined this morning by the leader and a doctor from a German team who were going up to see if they could locate one of their team members who had not come down from Elbrus the day before. There ended up being a rescue accompanying BAI on our summit attempt today.

We climbed higher and higher. We got to 5,000 meters and eventually into the saddle at 5,300 meters. The winds were really ferocious, it was stinging our cheeks. The team was solid and performing well but I know that the weather was challenging for everyone.

We did decide to abort the summit attempt at the saddle. It seemed apparent that we could go no further. The team knew that they had given it 110% but as we often say, ‘the mountain gets the last word on each summit attempt’ and Elbrus was telling us that today was not our day.

The rescue was interesting. We had radio contact with the man who had spent the last night in the crevasse, but we could not locate him. The team was all willing to help but I told them they should start down with Karina and take care of themselves. Vladimir and I stayed higher with the German team leader and doctor in a crevasse that provided us with shelter. After the team began to descend back to the barrels, we watched the weather worsen over the next 3 hours. We did have more radio contact with this fellow who is going to spend one more night out on the mountain. He seems confident and has relatively good shelter. The rescue team at the barrels will be going up to help him tomorrow morning.

Our team will be heading down into the valley where they will enjoy one more night in the Caucasus Mountains and then start back to St. Petersburg and in Richard’s case, back to Moscow on Saturday.

This truly was a Mountain for Maddie. That young woman inspired so many in her short life by the fact that she never complained about anything. She dealt with challenges and problems as they came up, in a matter of fact; she dealt with everything in an effective and willing manner. She also took every day of life that she ever had as a gift.

I would say that is exactly the description of each team member on this trip. Challenges became fun and we dealt with them as a team. We had opportunities to climb in the Caucasus, learn more about climbing in altitude and this was all appreciated in full depth by everyone on the team. I can promise you that the people leaving here are leaving with complete satisfaction. They gave a great mountain their all, as a group of individuals and as a team. There were no disappointments. We learned a lot!

We are going to enjoy the rest of our trip in Russia. Stay tuned for our reports in next few days as we work our way back to St. Petersburg!