Tag: acclimatization

Elbrus 2012 Pastukhova Rocks Hike Video

I hiked to Pastukhova Rocks on Elbrus, a volcano in the Caucasus of Russia, and one of the Seven Summits. On Thursday September 6 I took a taxi to Azau, where the tram and gondola bottom stations are.

I took my billet or pass as we Americans prefer, and waved it at the scanner and the gate beeped ajar and I passed through. Having skied a number of times I booked it to the next open gondola door and jumped in. I scared the attendants and you didn’t need to know Russian to know what they yelled. Like a punk snowboarder I smiled and waved as I scooted aboard and sat. — Elbrus, My Waterloo – publishing October 2012

I barely made my goal time, in spite of the chairlift between the top tram station and the Barrels Huts being off that day. This was an important acclimatization hike to 15,300′, about halfway in elevation gain and miles from the Barrels to the Summit of Elbrus. The snow conditions were awful, terrible, hard frozen slush and gravel dusted packed snow…

…with running water over ice. The trail angled just to the left at Pastukhova Rocks, which seemed quite bare this fall. I had set a goal of hitting the Rocks at 1:00 PM, and I made 1:06. Amazing, 2:13 from the Barrels, but I was beat and empty. — Elbrus, My Waterloo – publishing October 2012

I hit the Rocks and made a hasty retreat to the gondola station to make the last car down. I did not want to walk that 4,000′ in the dark on top of the 4,000′ I already did that day. In the middle of all that I got a chance to shoot a few seconds of video here and there and spliced it all together.

Here is my Elbrus acclimatization hike video

Elbrus 2012 – Hiking from Mir to Pastukhova Rocks

On September 6, 2012 I left the hotel and took a taxi to Azau to ride the Gondola up to Mir, the top station for the cable cars on the South side of Elbrus in Russia.

At the top gondola station, Mir, I exited the car and lo and behold this was one of the off days for the chairlift. Well that makes today just that much more complicated. [and] completely ended any fantasy of a summit today. I was totally unprepared to scramble down all 4000′ of that road in the dark. — from “Elbrus, My Waterloo” – publishing October 2012

I worked my way up to the edge of the snow above the Barrels Huts, put on my crampons and made my way over very poor conditions to Pastukhova Rocks, landmark about half way to the summit of Elbrus. The route was exposed glacial ice and melted water running down the surface mixed with slush and dirt. In places it was almost a small waterfall over volcanic sand.

I had set a goal of hitting the Rocks at 1 PM, and I made 1:06. Amazing, 2:13 from the Barrels, but I was beat and empty. I didn’t want to take any more time out than leaning over my poles to pant every hundred steps on the way up. Yes, I was counting.

I had to beat a 30:00 pace the whole way to make the gondola cutoff with enough margin for error. So I ran. Or as close to running on 40% slopes of ice and water and slush as you can get in crampons. — from “Elbrus, My Waterloo” – publishing October 2012

After returning to the hotel I was pretty well knackered, hung clothes to dry, ate, and then went quickly to sleep.

Elbrus Gallery:


Elbrus 2012 – Hiking to the Barrels from Cheget

On Tuesday, September 4th, I did my first shakeout cruise. My acclimatization hike from the hotel near the market in Cheget, up to the barrels, from 6800′ elevation to 12,300′ elevation. Roughly 5400′ of elevation gain over 7.3 miles. Reverse that for the return home. I walked up the access road from Azau to the Barrels.

…the long gravel road that weaves under the gondola and tram lines. There is actually a lot going on up there with several huts, some full time lift and power line workers, so that supply trucks, huge military or mine style trucks with 5′ tires run up and down this road all day. That’s both good and bad, since they simultaneously pack down and chew up the road surface, and the overall grade or angle is determined by the lowest common denominator of the trucks. Sadly, I generally dislike loose gravel in sand, so despite averaging a good time overall, I was not really happy. There were spots that felt like one step forward and two steps back. — from “Elbrus, My Waterloo” – publishing October 2012

It was long, hot, dusty, but it was a great sense of accomplishment to go somewhere that most American climbers never ever go. This is roughly equivalent to the Cheget Peak hike that most guide companies do in the first day or two of the itinerary. Only they usually go up the chairlift to get a thousand meters in before hiking.