Ascent of Elbrus

May 15, 2015

Once upon a time, I came across an article on the Internet about a climber who combined a trip around the world and the conquest of the highest mountains on every continent where he found himself. The second part of his trip was called “The Seven Peaks.” In short, I got fired up with this idea and added a new fad to the list of lifelong plans. And finally I started to fulfill this list. The highest mountain in Europe is Elbrus. I quickly find a group, fit in, buy tickets to the Caucasus.

As usual, clothes are collected on the last night.

We meet with the group at the airport of Mineralnye Vody, get on the bus, go to the foot of the mountain for 120 km. In Elbrus settlement arrived at night, nothing was visible, only felt how cold it became with the climb. We settled in a hotel, got acquainted, discussed the plan and went to bed. Only in the morning did they see which view from the hotel was opening.

The range of ages, of course, turned out to be impressive: I am 20, the oldest in the group is 79. We decided to count a little, having climbed another kilometer up on the lift.

The climb turned out to be tough, since in the evening I was at the very bottom, and in the morning I was at an altitude of 3300 meters above sea level. It was felt. Lack of oxygen makes you feel like you’re drunk. It was also not easy to climb, I had to stop for half a minute to catch my breath every 100 meters. All this was completely compensated by the picture around.

I was “delighted” that it would be worse. And not only during the ascent. Acclimatization is a very interesting process. My head began to ache that same day towards evening. Someone’s blood pressure jumped. A guy from Germany with whom I shared a tent was sick, so he hardly ate the first couple of days. All this is in tents, in a not weak frost.

All this was aggravated by the wild snowfall that began on the second day, because of which, when we did not walk for active acclimatization, we sat in tents altogether.

Some have already begun to complain that after such a rest they will need another rest. After a couple of days, I also had the feeling that I was a masochist who spends quite a lot of money to make me as bad as possible. But it was too late to retreat.

And then the weather changed dramatically. To say that I was glad is to say nothing. I was wildly delighted. He walked from early morning until nightfall, dried his clothes at night and went for a walk again in the morning.

Once, without equipment, I climbed to the mark of 5000 m, while the top of the mountain – 5642.

In general, acclimatization was successful.

Further, according to the plan, we had a descent to the foot, one day’s rest from cold trash, relax before the assault and leave extra clothes. The weather turned bad again, the lifts were not working, so we had to go down on foot. Not the most pleasant thing in the morning. But downstairs, we immediately went to a restaurant where they caught trout and fried it for us right there.

It’s funny, after a week in the melted snow even cola seemed like something extraordinary.

All this was, of course, great, but in the meantime, the bad weather at the top turned into complete tin with a hurricane wind. As a result, we spent an extra day downstairs and had to choose either to go up in heavy snow or in strong wind. We chose snow. We climbed to the shelter on a retract, for which I laid out my last money.

We arrived, ate, fell asleep at the sunset and passed out.

Rise at 5 am, because the estimated time of the assault is 14 hours. Considering the relaxation downstairs, the morning turned out to be so severe that after half an hour we could hardly walk. Then one of the group said that he was turning around and going down, as his hands were freezing even in the tops. The mood, of course, was still fighting, but it was still 13 hours to walk, and that was frankly frightening. But did not have to choose.

After 5 hours, I already perceived the snow as white sand. I no longer felt that he was cold, just such a soft warm blanket under your feet. The only thing missing was the noise of the sea and the azure coast. And oxygen in the air.

But the tin was only ahead. Literally a couple of hundred meters to the top, after 8 hours of ascent, we saw a wall in front of us.

The summit was on a sharp rise and it was impossible to pass without climbing equipment. To us this peak then seemed to be a separate mountain. We hung the railing, walked with belay and ice axes, with the last of our strength driving the cats on their feet into the snow.

At first, no feelings at all. Then the understanding gradually comes that you are standing at the highest point of Europe.

But even it does not please, because there are 4 hours of descent ahead, and first down this wall, and then further on for several kilometers, absolutely exhausted. Then a dream, the deepest dream of my life. Descent down in the morning. And then hitchhiking through half of the Caucasus, because all the money for buses and hotels was spent on retrac.

When I went down to the shelter, before falling into the abyss of sleep, I thought that this would be the last such ascent in my life. Waking up in the morning, I realized that it was only the first, and next year it will be Kilimanjaro.