Elbrus has yet to reveal herself to us in her entirety. She wears a thin veil of clouds only occasionally giving us seductive glimpses of the west summit.
Today was the second acclimatization climb. We walked to the edge of Terskol, through the pine forest and over the river until we came upon a small tourist market. It was here we embarked on the chairlifts.
The chairlifts looked beat. Held together with hope and paint! It was my first time on a chairlift. It moved surprisingly fast as it kicked your legs out from under you. Getting off was worse though. The chairs don’t stop at the top just go round the machinery and head down again. to get off you sort of had to do a strange running motion with your feet and then hop off. It was, to say the least, quite awkward!
For the most part the climb was fairly easy just a gentle scree incline. The only worry was the possibility of a twisted ankle on the loose stoned path.
The path then seemed to end abruptly as the mountain steepened. The path was replaced by huge rocks balanced against each other. Held static by some strange quirk of physics. Sort of like a gigantic game of Jenga!
We folded out hiking sticks into our packs and began to ascend. On each side sheer 50ft drops. Trying not to look down was tough like charging a dog with guarding a steak. I gave in and instantly regretted it. Falling would have involved bouncing down the first 50ft then smashing into a heap on the slope where you would probably roll and bounce your way down. My vertigo was not ok with this!
Luckily though no-one fell. Instead we stopped to eat lunch and breathe. The mountains rise around you here. They are the grandest things I have ever seen. Giving at once this perplexing feeling of wanting to climb them all. To look stoically down on the planet. I want to become them.
The clouds clear briefly and I see the twin summits of Elbrus. They drastically contrast the shark toothed aggressive inclines of the other mountains. She is soft, beautiful even soon we will dance. Locked in the intimate embrace of the climb.
We descended from our lunch perch. All the way back to the market where I brought what will henceforth be referred to as the greatest thing I own. A chunky knit jumper with reindeer print. It satisfies both my desire to stay warm whilst still wanting to look as tragically hip as possible!
The company that I am climbing Mt Elbrus with is Elbrus Tours. They are a small travel company based out of Moscow that specializes in trips to Mt. Elbrus but also offer trips to other mountains within Russia. You should check them out!