Climb – Day One
It’s actually Day 3. This is not an easy place to get to. Not sure about Russian men. Yesterday in Moscow on a 6-hour layover, I had time to watch people and for the most part the men are pushy, rude, and arrogant. I hate to make a broad statement like that, but I have also made the same statement when in New York City. They cut lines, stand in the way when you ask them to move, they scoff at you, and when they hear English especially from an American, they become even more rude. In New York, it is a southern accent, all other traits still the same.
The cab driver parked outside the gates of the airport almost a mile, so he wouldn’t have to pay a fee. He didn’t offer to help with my 56 pounds of gear, and the journey was 3 hours in a junky car. No conversation (also similar to NYC). I left no tip. Finally got to the Azur Hotel at the bottom of the mountain, and the people here revived my faith and my blanket statements are wrong. Needless to say, I’m still waiting on my faith to be revived about NYC.
I hadn’t had anything to eat, and ask where to get food. They told me to wait. Soon a lady showed up at 11 p.m. to fix me soup and eggs, and there was a limb from an animal (not sure what animal exactly), but she asked if I wanted some when I started looking at it. I felt bad; I thought they would bring me a piece of fruit or breakfast bar so I asked her to go home and went to bed starving.
I met the team at breakfast. One German lady, Heidi, with her Austrian boyfriend, Christian; a Russian from Siberia, Illian, very fit, four friends from the UAE, India, Oman and Portugal who work together at Dell and recently did Kilimanjaro together. Our plans were to climb to a observatory overlooking the Caucasus mountain range at 9 a.m. No one had equipment to go high. We climbed to 12000 ft. Good trails, not too steep, beautiful scenery and a waterfall.
We didn’t finish until 5 because the Dell guys were slow and struggled in the heat. Tonight they are drinking beer and smoking. I have no problems with either vice, but not good for altitude.
They were having headaches, signs of altitude sickness, and had to start taking Diamox.
Today was 9 miles up and back with beautiful weather. The road will get much harder starting tomorrow.
I am with a young guide, Mohammed that was very good at telling us the history of the area. Ninety percent Muslim, but inhabited by so many different groups. In the 19th century, it was an independent country until Russia took it over. The reason they lost control was the Caucasus people were made up of Turks, Serbs, Armenians, Georgians, and many other groups separated by both race and religion. They fought between themselves and couldn’t fend off the takeover of Russia. The summit of Elbrus looks very cold, today was sunny and tonight it was covered in clouds. Tonight we met the lead guide, a woman named Lisa. Got my ice ax, harness, and extra layers ready for the cold that we start on tomorrow. May have short internet days going up but may be able to send another message in a few days.