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  1. #1
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    Sep 2006
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    MT. Elbrus, Russia. June 2018

    I've been meaning to put up some pictures and so forth from an overseas ramble this spring- here it is.
    I got an invite from a good friend to go over and tag Mt. Elbrus this spring; she's a mountain guide and decided to do the seven summits along the way, why not, right? At first I misunderstood her and thought she was suggesting Mt. Erebus, and I said no way, Antarctica can wait for later. She clarified that it was in Russia, about 15 miles north of the border with Georgia. I've always wanted to tour Georgia, and this was close enough, so I said sure!
    It turns out with the current political climate and so forth, getting a Russian Visa is no small task. In fact, it was a struggle. Emily's an old hand at this though, and it came together just in time. We had to fast track the thing since she needed to be back to start her Rainier season, so the itinerary ended up giving us 5 days in country to make our summit happen. The usual international flight jangling went on forever it seemed, then we took an eternal taxi ride into the mountains in the middle of the night.
    The next morning we checked in with SAR and headed for the chairlift. That's right, we rode a chair from the valley to 12,800 feet where all the mountain huts were. We could choose between the old tram and the new gondola.....The old tram was quite the spectacle. We took the gondola.
    It was a solid punch in the lungs getting off the lift and dragging gearbags around at nearly 13,000 feet. We moved into "The Barrels". I never got a solid answer if they were built especially for use on the mountain, but we were housed in big steel cylinders that had been set up with a basic kitchen and bunks. There were of course grand views, that slipped in and out as the weather did its thing.

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    Gravity always wins...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    14,603
    purty!

  3. #3
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    Sep 2006
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    We got in a tour for some time at altitude, then settled into the barrel to nurse the headache and get some hydration. We'd chosen to spend the extra $20 bucks a day for a Russian cook, who set up in a barrel nearby. She was feeding us and a father/son team and their guide. We'd all go over to the galley barrel and have group dinners; very cozy and enjoyable. Russian camp fare tends towards the sturdy and practical, lots of Borscht and greasy meats. I thought I was getting my butt kicked by the altitude, but as my guts adapted I realized it was mostly the food that was making me feel so off.
    The weather was typically clear in the morning, and gathering into clouds in the early afternoon. We got up to nearly 16,000 feet the next day, and skied back to get water and more stout food, and decided the next day looked good for a summit attempt. Elbrus is a very straightforward mountain, very little concern with crevasses and route finding, and other than it's immense size and 18,500 height it felt pretty similar to a basic Cascade volcano.
    Attachment 253626

    We got an early start, and furthermore opted for the cat ride to 15,000ft. We decided we'd done it on foot a couple times now, and had ridden the lift and used a handful of airplanes to cross the ocean. This was no pure, noble, alpine mission in the best style. We were cool with the cat ride. This left 3500 feet of gain, which went by pretty smooth. The summit cast a nice shadow on the clouds at sunrise.
    For such a high summit, the weather was really nice. We hung out up there for over an hour, just checking it all out and taking pictures.

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  4. #4
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    Sep 2006
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    If I could figure out how to rotate that picture I would.

    The ski down was not bad at all, firm and chalky up high turning to classy spring mush for the last few thousand feet.

    Uploading pics isn't going well right now, I'll come back to it tomorrow.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    SLC
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    3,644
    sick... cheap tip, if you open the pic you want to upload and take a screenshot of it, the screenshot will have the proper orientation. no clue what's up with the TGR server sometimes ignoring the image metadata.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    PNW
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    cool trip, riff!

    extra points for the "full send" headband, ya dweeb

    PE, Mechanical Engineering

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Alexandria, VA
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    602
    Long way to travel just to take a selfie! Thanks for the write up, sounds fun and a pretty unique experience.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2006
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    Thanks guys! Iíll get some more pics up...Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
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    Sep 2006
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  10. #10
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    Sep 2006
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    A bit out of sequence, but thereís a few more. The snowcat threw a track at 16k four years ago and itís been there ever since.....



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  11. #11
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    Sep 2006
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    The full send was important since emily had her Wonder Woman costume, i needed something silly to make the locals scratch their heads.


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  12. #12
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    Sep 2009
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    PNW
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    4,290
    Fun shots. How was the skiing?
    PE, Mechanical Engineering

  13. #13
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    Sep 2006
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    No longer somewhere in Idaho
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    758

    MT. Elbrus, Russia. June 2018

    Better than I expected! i think because of the greater overall height it doesnít get the heavy freeze/thaw we get in the PNW. The route was south facing on the top half, and east facing down low. Chalky without any ice up high, once we got below 15k and came around to the east face it started turning pleasantly soft. There wasnít any huge crevasse risk on the main route, and the one spot with fixed ropes was soft enough to ski as well.


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