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Peru with Mountain Madness

A Bit of Luck for Elbrus Group 2

MM Guide Mark Pugliese reports on the sec­ond of three Elbrus trip of the sea­son that was met with some good luck and a suc­cess­ful summit! 

After a day tour­ing the Krem­lin and Red Square in Moscow, our group board­ed the domes­tic flight to Min­er­al­nye Vody and drove south to the Cau­ca­sus moun­tain range.

Moscow. Mark Pugliese photo

Our group of twelve stayed in a small fam­i­ly-run hotel in Ter­skol, a lit­tle moun­tain town at the foot of Elbrus. Here from our lux­u­ry base camp” (6,800 feet) we took a cou­ple day hikes up to Cheget peak (11,500 feet) and the Ter­skol obser­va­to­ry (10,000 feet). These hikes are espe­cial­ly beau­ti­ful and an incred­i­ble way to see the Bak­san Val­ley, with each pass­ing hike we did, Kyle K. kept say­ing Now this is the new coolest thing I have ever done!”.

Acclima­ti­za­tion hike. Mark Pugliese photo

After spend­ing a cou­ple days accli­ma­tiz­ing both to Moscow time and to the alti­tude. We made our way onto the tram lines and rode up to our new home, the bar­rel huts (12,000 feet).

We faced bad weath­er here with elec­tri­cal storms, hail, and winds so strong the bar­rels swayed. The haz­ardous weath­er made it dif­fi­cult to fit in our planned acclima­ti­za­tion hike to 15,000 feet. But we did what we could.

The beau­ti­ful Bak­san Val­ley. Mark Pugliese photo

Our first two sum­mit day options, the team faced hor­ri­ble weath­er and we decid­ed to wait until the third and final day to try and climb. On July 1, we woke up to a bro­ken sky, this was the first time we could see patch­es of blue at least. After a very cold cat ride to 5000 meters. We got out and start­ed walk­ing. As we moved up, the clouds broke fur­ther and the weath­er improved steadily.

A clear day for the sum­mit attempt. Mark Pugliese photo

Every­one was in dis­be­lief at how nice the weath­er turned out. I remem­ber Deana H. remark­ing to us How could we have lucked out any more than get­ting this per­fect day?” The answer was we could­n’t have lucked out any more, it was a day made for us. By the end of it, 9 out of 10 of our guests sum­mit­ed and I skied with three of them from 18,000 feet, mak­ing for a pret­ty sweet 6,000 feet descent.

That night we caught the last chair down and made it back to Hotel Povorot for a much need­ed show­er fol­lowed by din­ner and drinks. One per­son in our group asked a staff mem­ber of the hotel where a dance club was. She replied right here. Next thing we knew they moved all the tables and chairs out of the din­ing room and we had dance music bump­ing and flash­ing lights. A fair­ly sur­re­al change from bar­rel life”. It was incred­i­ble to see a group that was so tired on the moun­tain dance so much a few hours lat­er! These are the kinds of expe­ri­ences that make the unique cul­ture of Rus­sia some­thing spe­cial, the hos­pi­tal­i­ty of our hosts was sec­ond to none.

Con­grats to Group 1! Mark Pugliese photo

Thanks for a good time, Elbrus Group 1. All you out there read­ing, be sure to join us next sum­mer to keep the good times rolling in Moth­er Russia.