How to make a climbing to Elbrus mountain in Russia
Why do people climb to the mountains? For new impressions, hot feelings, for excitement, or this is a chance to affirm yourself in society? Why do mountains start to become the main life’s point for some people? It is difficult to answer this question without have been there.
Climbing to the mountains is a dangerous event with a risk for life. On the way there, trip participants are feeling such discomforts as: long trackings with heavy backpacks from one camp to the other, hypoxia, hard weather conditions, a difficult place for tracking, etc. So you should devote more attention for the preparations for such a travel.
In my case the idea to make a climbing arose spontaneously, I wanted to make my holidays unforgettable. But it took me half a year to realize it.
Elbrus mount — trip to the top
My travel began on July 1st, when I arrived to Pyatigorsk, where I settled in a comfortable hostel.
The next day the other persons of our group had a meeting in this hostel. We had six persons, including one girl. When we met one of our guides, he carried us to the guest house, where we wrote the contracts about climbing. They included the accident prevention rules, realization guides instructions and the list of clothes with special equipment that will be used while climbing The contracts included the trip plan, that was calculated for 12 days, including 2 reserve days for the final summit climbing in case of bad weather. According the trip plan, two guides should go with us: the main one and the second guide who will join us in the final climbing time, because his purpose is to help persons, going down because of feeling badly.
Then, with guide’s participation, we checked by the list the things, that we had with us and we leased the things that we had not. Besides the things we provided such amount of meal that was calculated for 12 days of travel. There were sublimated products, porridges, dried fruits, tea and cocoa, different canned goods, condensed milk, chocolates and the other sweets.
Having packed the backpacks, we left them in guide’s guest house and we went to walk about Pyatigorsk accompanied one of our guides.
Early in the morning the next day, we loaded all our backpacks and two tents to a minibus that was waiting near the guest house.
Departed to Terskol
Having formed a nine people team (including the guide), we departed to Terskol village-it took us four hours.
On arriving to the place, we settled at the bivouac – the place of a camp kind, located in the forest massif near Terskol. There were wooden houses for tourists. A toilet, a washbasin and a kitchen veranda – everything was located outside. A mountain river seethed near the bivouac.
We organized our camp and started to the root of Cheget mountain. The tourist area is made there, where shops, souvenir shops, cafe and drugstores are located. But the most important thing is a ropeways system that is going to the 3100 meters height. This tourist area got the name – Cheget glade. The east summit of Elbrus is visible well from this place.
Our plan dictated us to make acclimatization climbing to Cheget on the third day before the climbing to Elbrus. We took thermoses with tea and isotonic – that is syrup mixed with water, for supporting your powers while tracking time. By the way, sunblock and hygienic lipsticks with burn protection were useful for us.
Climb to Cheget
We began to climb Cheget along the mountain trail. We watched how trees and bushes growing on the slope, gradually conceded the place for alpine meadows, somewhere mountain creeks flowed down. Higher, the snow that lay in the slope lowland was melting slowly in the sun.
After four hours tracking we climbed to the height of 3100 m. There meadows changed for rocks with snow. There is a cafe at this height, where the ropeways system goes from Cheget glade. The alpine skiing track that works at winter time is made higher on the slope. A wonderful Elbrus panorama is opening opposite the cafe.
The fourth day morning was rainy and foggy. The group got up early, packed everything to backpacks and started to Terskol. The car with clothes and backpacks was unloaded, and we understood that our future climbing will «so merry», because
each person had the backpack of twenty kg weight. Not looking that everybody was a beginner in this case, we climbed at the middle pace. Climbing the mountains is like a marathon run, the respiratory system is working as at running. So you should breathe through your nose and exhale through the mouth.
Usually, we made the halts over 30 – 40 minutes of tracking, sometimes we made the short stops at 5 – 10 minutes, when somebody felt behind. Usually we had a meal or made photos at halt’s time. One of such halt we made near the waterfall that is located at the height of 2800 m.
After five-hours of tracking, we came to the first place of our parking. It was a glade next to the rocks and the following river at a height over 3000 meters. Ukrainian Observatory located nearby our camp. We took the water for cooking from the river. The water was crystal clear, so you can drink it without any doubt.
At this height you could feel a rapid change of temperature. During the day time it was rather hot, but at night time it became colder, the temperature was 2-3 degrees above zero.
After the long distance of tracking all of the members of our team felt an aching pain in all your body¸ but it was not the reason to lose the courage.
The next day, after a good breakfast we broke up the camp and continued our climbing. The views were changing at every step of the way: from the alpine meadows, rolling valleys, beautiful rivers till the snow- covered peaks. After some period of climbing we had to modify our boots because it was impossible to go by snow that’s why we put on gaiters and crampons. Gaiters are garments worn over the shoe and lower pants leg, and used primarily as personal protective equipment. Gaiters keep snow and ice out of your boots and socks and also protect your pants from the sharp points on your crampons. A crampon is a traction device that is attached to the footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing. These devices helped us to walk by the snow-covered path along the glacier, mountain lakes formed in the lowland as a result of melting snow and vertical sections of the rocks. Some of them we had to overcome by climbing the rocks. This task was rather complicated.
House for mentally ill patients
After 5 hours of exhausted climbing we reached our next point — «House for mentally ill patients» — a wooden house on the rocks, at the height of 3660 m. During the period of the Soviet Union some of «mentally ill patients» were kept there for rehabilitation, but nowadays it is just a house for tourists and climbers. There is one interesting tradition: climbers should leave some food or stuff for other visitors. When we entered, we found on the shelves such foods as: coffee, ready-made noodles, butter and spices. We decided to stop here till the morning.
The next day we should cross over the ice plateau that is why our Gide decided to show us how to use all the other equipment. On this day, not far from the refuge, we had ice and snow courses with our guide. The guide taught us how to put on the crampons and how to walk in it; he showed us the techniques of self-arrest with an ice-axe and we tried to slide down the slope and then fix ourselves on the snow using our ice-axe and the crampons.
During the sixth day we should get to shelter “Maria”. We moved up quietly, without undue hurry. We all basically walked in a line like one big group. This was actually very responsible action – any small details missed or forgotten now on the way to the top can create a serious problem for the whole group. The weather that day was really awful. It was extremely windy; the sky was covered by clouds, but we continued our climbing despite of the weather condition. After a couple of hours our group got in an awful snowstorm. We did not have any choice but to come back to the ravine and stay till the end of the storm. Then we had to come back to the gulch just to wait out a stormy weather. When the weather became better we decided to continue our dangerous adventure.
It took us 4 hours to go to «Maria» shelter. We stopped there. In fact, it is conditionally possible to call all complex of the shelters located around «Shelter 11» — it will be clearer to all what the speech is about. Actually, itself «the Shelter 11» in 1998 burned down. Now it is being restored, and in close proximity to it there are several other shelters with their own names. Actually, one of them is the shelter Maria. It is the highest on the Caucasus (its height — 4150 m) where there is electricity (from the generator) and gas.
Walk to Pastukhov’s rock
The Seventh day was the last day of our acclimatization. We did a walk to Pastukhov’s rock and reached Rocks (4700 m) in 4 hours.
After assembling we started travelling light and followed the way up. Both peaks seemed closer and closer, but the first impression is wrong. Four hours later we reached Pastukhov Rocks, which are located at the height of 4700 meters. We made a short break and later on moved to the slope leading to the eastern peak.
At such a height climbing is not that easy. First of all the rise of the slope we moved on was stronger than the path before. The dyspnea increased and every step was quite difficult to make. Consciousness became blurry and
we started to lose concentration. The guide saw that we were getting worse and stopped climbing. Thus we reached the height of 4870 meters and made a half-hour break.
Our state of health was getting worse and worse. The eyes were sticking together and we wanted to lie down. After a short meal and tea we started moving down to camp.
Next two days were rested before the forthcoming mountain top assault. The first day we followed the plan, our team went down to the “Garabashi” station, situated at the height of 3847 meters. There is a small café next to it, where we had lunch.
During the second rest day the weather made its own adjustments. Due to the increasing wind speed we decided to delay climbing for the reserve day. At that moment I thought: “What if a mountain climbing is a kind of gambling?”
At night, on the tenth day of our trip the weather improved. The decisive moment has come. We woke up at 01:00. After a portion of oatmeal and a cup of tea we gathered fast and started the way.
Climbing to Elbrus moutain
It was a massive mountain climbing. We walked in a column, slowly but stably, never stopped, sometimes overtaking the groups moving ahead of us. At 05:30 we reached our first acclimatization point. A red sunset rose above the horizon. Here the one of our group felt very bad and the second guide had to bring him back to the shelter.
After a short break we resumed climbing. On our way we met impassable areas of naked ice and other tourist groups which we had either to overtake or to wait.
Strong wind was blowing all the time. The force of the gusts was so mighty, that we had to stop and bend down, sometimes leaning on an ice axe with one hand and on pilot stick with another. When the wind improved, we continued our challenge.
By 9 a.m. we reached the saddle. It was a very large area between two tops at the height of 5400 meters. Here we made a rest. At this height the air was rather discharged and dry. When your respiration fouls and you make several breaths – the mouth gets completely dry, salivating stops. It’s quite a nasty feeling, I say.
After having a bite of chocolate and drinking the residues of the tea we attached to each other and resumed climbing. By the way all the route from the shelter is marked by special landmarks which show the correct direction of the movement, so it’s impossible to lose the way in a good weather. In a bad weather it’s better not to start the trip at all.
Bit by bit we avoided a rocky area and moved from one path to another, which was our home straight. It seemed for us there were only a few steps till the top, but when moving upper and upper – the top became even farther. This made me depressive. There was an impression that we’ll never reach our goal.
When only a pair of tens of meters has left till the edge, we dropped the backpacks, secured them with ice axes, detached each other and resumed moving up.
The last meters were the most difficult. It was extremely hard to breathe when moving, strong dyspnea tormented every five steps, the mouth became completely dry and my head almost cracked like a nut.
Never the less we overcame this hard way and stepped on the top of the mountain, reaching the height of 5642 meters. There we saw the obelisk with a poem about Elbrus. The top is taken!
With the help of my mates I successfully expanded two flags. It was the flag of the Kaliningrad “wing chun kung fu” school Sky Peak, where I practiced once and the flag of the English club, where I still study.
After making photos I realized that we conquered the highest mountain of Russia and Europe, and an euphoria seized us, one of the symptoms of mountain sickness. The guide evaluated our state as an inadequate and decided to move back.
So we spent on the top only fifteen minutes. Those fifteen minutes for which people sacrifice their money and health just to achieve the goal. Taking into account that our group was extremely exhausted, the descent would have been even more difficult. But we did it without any troubles and what is more important — casualties.
Kind of gambling?
After the challenge we passed only one can be said – everybody seeks in the mountains something personal. For one this is impression, for another – pacification. Somebody is looking for the previously lost GoPro camera. For others climbing becomes a kind of gambling. But the most interesting fact is that despite we live in the space age some people still refer to mountain like as a living creature and believe that it can allow you or not allow to go. People believe that mountains don’t like lazy persons and let go only a person with bright mind.
Composed by: Mr. Vice President of the EC Vitaly Gromov, Grishchuk Anna, Ivanov Kirill, Kozlov Maxim.
Text — Ontheedge.ruspecial for