Let’s Get the Show on the Road

As Biff Tannen once said to Marty McFly………….it’s time to make like a tree and get out of here.  I know, not an exact quote.  But it is that time.

I’m going to put up some links for those who are planning to follow along with my Mt Elbrus trip.  I hope to have wifi in some of the locations I go so hopefully I can keep this blog updated over the next few weeks.  I will not be data roaming so if there is no wifi I won’t be posting.  Also, I won’t have cellular service either so no phone or texting.  Both will be shut off via AT&T or my phone itself to avoid any expensive mistakes.  You should be able to follow along at the links I provide here.  There is also an approximate itinerary at the bottom.

Alpine Ascents will be running a daily cybercast of the trip.  That cybercast link can be found here.  I’m on team 2.  I wouldn’t expect any cybercasts until late in the day on July 24.  You may recognize my guide too.  It is Vern Tejas.  You need to check out that link on him.  The same guide who took Shelley and I to the top of North America last June.  This was one of the primary reasons for taking this group.  If you’re on my Facebook I will also be posting updates.  However, since not everyone of my friends is on Facebook, this blog will be the main posting spot for my updates.

I will be spending the first day and a half flying to St Petersburg.  I’ve already been in contact with most of the climbers on our team (there are 11) and three of us are on the same connecting flight from Frankfurt to St Petersburg.  We have been planning how to meet up at the airport.  That should be nice being on the same flight.  We can all get disoriented together in St Petersburg.  Much better being disoriented in a group as opposed to yourself.

Once in St Petersburg, we’ll be staying two nights at the Holiday Inn Mosckovskie Vorota.

Tuesday July 24 will be touring parts of St Petersburg before leaving for the area of Azau – Mineralnye Vody on Wednesday morning.  I couldn’t find much on Azau other than it’s a ski resort and staging point for Mt Elbrus.  I think we fly into Mineralnye Vody and van/bus to Azau.  Both cities are north of the mountain itself with Azau being closer to Mt Elbrus.

We’ll be doing a few days of hiking and acclimatization around the Baksan Valley.

After the trip I will be flying to Geneva to meet up with Shelley.  As many of you know, the plan had been to climb Mt Blanc with her.  Instead we’ll be doing some hiking, eating and drinking instead as we whirlwind around Switzerland for two weeks.  If you missed that story about Switzerland, you can read about that update in this blog post, A Change of Plans.

Here is the official itinerary from Alpine Ascents.  Remember, this is approximate.  Once we get to the mountain things can change but this gives you an idea of where we should be during the trip.

July 22, Depart USA.

July 23, I arrive in St. Petersburg in the early afternoon around 1:00 pm local time.  St. Petersburg is 10 hours ahead of Boise.

July 24, We begin our journey with a tour of St. Petersburg.  Here we will meet our Russian friends and tour this spectacular city.  We visit the world renowned Hermitage, considered one of Europe’s finest museums with vast collections of Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, Rodin and Picasso displayed amidst architectural splendor.  We also visit the Aurora, the military ship which fired the first shot of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.  We overnight in a St. Petersburg hotel.

July 25, After Breakfast in St. Petersburg we fly south to Mineralnye Vody (mineral water), and travel by bus to our hotel in the Baksan Valley.  The Baksan is known for its Russian climbing camps.  Mountaineers from all over the world, come here to train and climb in the Caucasus.  It is also a great location for them to develop the technical skills necessary to climb great peaks around the world.  We’ll have our full gear check once we arrive.  I haven’t read what the name of the hotel is here in the Baksan Valley.

July 26, The acclimatization process begins by hiking in the beautiful Baksan Valley as we tour the Cheget Cupola.

July 27, Acclimatization hike to Cheget observatory.  This is a long day of walking with good  altitude increases. By the end of this day most climbers are feeling strong and accustomed to the altitude.

July 28, We leave the hotel and move to “barrels” where we lodge at about 11,000 feet.  We use the tram and ski lift to help move our gear.  This is an image of the barrels we’ll be sleeping in.

This is a note from Summitpost.org on the conditions at the barrels.

“There are 9 main barrels, each sleeping 6 people.  There is a mattress and pillow in each barrel, a small entry room (great for storing crampons, ice axes, trekking poles).  Each hut has an electric heater, electric plugs, and electric lights.  There are several structures around the barrels, where usually guides sleep, and 2 additional structures serve as kitchens.  Hot boiled water is easily available in the kitchen.  They boil it for you – you just hand them your water containers.  Toilets are in a pretty bad condition – they are named “House of Pain” and “House of Horror”, both names well deserved.  You do need to bring your own toilet paper.  Showers are not available.”

Something tells me I will be hoping to use a CMC once again.  I guess Putin doesn’t travel to this area very often.

July 29, Another acclimatization hike to Pastukov rocks (15,416 feet) and return to barrels.

July 30, Brief skills review and rest day before summit.

July 31, Summit day!  Depart camp via Snow-cat at 3:00am and ride to Pastukov Rocks area.  From the rocks we begin our summit ascent.  It is a long summit day with a 12-hour round trip climb.  From the summit we have excellent views of the Caucuses, including Ushba, the Matterhorn of the region.

August 1, This is an extra day at the Barrels for inclement weather.  Local glacier tour or a return to the valley if we already have summitted.

August 2, This can be another extra day, if needed.  Otherwise it is a hiking day, barbecue and celebration (can use as summit day if needed).

August 3, Fly to Moscow via Mineralnye Vody.

August 4, Tour of Moscow and night is free for climbers.

August 5, I Depart Moscow early in the morning and arrive in Geneva around 8:00 am local Geneva time.

If you missed my post on what our plans are for Switzerland, you can find that information over at an earlier post titled, “A Change of Plans.”

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