After 9 years of mountaineering, I finally left for Moscow on the 10th August 2008 to climb Elbrus, my last of the “7 Summits”. Elbrus is the highest mountain of Europe and the only one of the “7 Summits” that I hadn’t climbed yet. Elbrus is in the Caucasus mountain range, next to Georgia, and was climbed for the first time in 1874. It is a dormant volcano and like many old volcanoes, it is not such a difficult climb from a technical point of view.
On 10th August I met with the rest of the team in Moscow. The team was made up of 3 Egyptians, a Canadian, 2 English ladies, a Maltese, Douglas Beall and Victor Saunders. Douglas would only arrive a few days later. Due to visa problems, he was forced to travel up and down between Moscow and the US a couple of times.
After 2 successful acclimatization trips to 4400 m, we left for the “barrels”, the basecamp on Elbrus at 3800 m. The basecamp looks more like a construction site with all the bulldozers and garbage but due to our Russian cook it actually became quite cosy.
We had planned a last acclimatization trip to 4800 m on the 15th August. But we reached our target for that day at 11am, so we decided to continue a little higher up the mountain, and then we continued a little more, and a little more … until we got so close to the summit that it seemed silly to turn back. At 4 pm we reached the summit and I completed the “7 Summits”.
2 days later, we also wanted to reach the East Summit. A snowcat brought us to 4500 meter at 4.30 am. From there on, we started climbing but when we reach the saddle between the West and the East Summit, we were caught in a storm. But that didn’t stop us. In the end we reached the East Summit in 100 km/hour winds which made this climb quite an interesting challenge.