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.

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