Mt. Elbrus, Russia - 18,510' - September 2010
Mt. Elbrus is located in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia (near Georgia), Russia. It is an inactive volcano that is recognized as the highest peak in the western Caucasus and all of Europe. Our team was the first to ascend the north face of the mountain.
For any mountaineer, climbing Mt. Elbrus is not easy. The trek to the mountain, as well as the actual climb, is dangerous and challenging. Temperatures at freezing or below are just one of the many difficulties we faced.
Although not a great technical climb, gear such as helmets, ice axes, crampons and harnesses were a necessary part of the climb. The higher we climbed, the level of difficulty increased. High winds, crevasses and steep slopes made it necessary to be roped together. The idea of being roped together as a precaution to save someone from falling creates a stressful situation where you simply must perform at your best, without exception. As a result, the need to have a strong team became apparent. Each team member brings their own strengths or weaknesses, therefore, allowing us to work together for the common goal of reaching the summit. Relying on others is simply what you must do to achieve feats greater than yourself.
On our way down the mountain, we encountered a Russian military helicopter that had crashed a few days earlier. We met the Russian Army and had an unforgettable experience; let's just say there was an arm wrestling contest, partaking of some homemade Russian vodka and beer, and a plunge into the mineral springs. Learning about the culture and people on these adventures is equally as rewarding as the expedition itself.