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.