Elbrus (Caucaz)-5642 m

From Russia with love-Mount Elbrus (5642 m)

August 2012

1ca orice aventura, a inceput  cu un vis, iar visul meu a fost sa  duc pe cel mai inalt varf al Europei un mesaj.
din fericire a coincis si cu marea mea pasiune  pentru munte si natura…

like any adventure,it started with a dream and my dream was to take a message on the highest peak of Europe.
fortunately it coincided with my great passion for the mountains and nature … 2intreaga echipa intr-o gara, una din multele pe care le-am tranzitat.

entire team in a station, one of many that we have crossed. 3intr-o gara din Moldova, unde se schimba ecartamentul trenului pentru liniile din fostul bloc sovietic. asa ca ne-am ostoit setea cu o bere… autohtona 🙂

a station in Moldova where the width of  track lines changes to corespond the former Soviet bloc . so we soothe our thirst with a beer … local beer 4un pui de somn in gara din Rostov pe Don, dupa aproape 2 zile in tren…in asteptarea urmatorului tren care urma sa ne duca la Mineralnye Vody.

a nap in the train station in Rostov-on-Don, after nearly two days on the train … waiting for the next train that would take us to Mineralnye Vody 5dupa alte 7 ore in tren, in gara din Min Vody

After another 7 hours on the train, in the station of Min Vody 6dupa aproape 3 zile in trenuri si microbuz, o salata binevenita  🙂

After almost three days in trains and minibus, the salad was a godsend 🙂 7priveliste  ce se vedea de langa hotelul unde am dormit prima noapte…

that’s the views that we saw near the hotel where we slept the first night … 8si inca una care ne-a bucurat ochii enorm dupa prima noapte…

and another one which was blessingfor our  eyes after the first night … 9hotelul se afla in satul Terskol aflat la vreo 15 km de poalele muntelui Elbrus… evident , un tanc isi traia batranetea pe un  petec de iarba… doar suntem in Rusia nu?

The hotel is located in Terskol village, at about 15 km from Elbrus foothills … Obviously, a tank lives it’s old age on a patch of grass … we are  in Russia, aren’t we? 10tot din aceeasi categorie, un brav reprezentant al regnului “heavy duty machines”…

in the same category, a brave  representative of the “heavy duty machines” evolutionary branch… 11si inca unul, si exemplele ar putea continua…

and another, and the examples could go on … 12
firicele de muschi  pe trunchiul unui brad..

threads of “old man’s beard” moss on a tree trunk .. 13in prima telecabina in drum spre tabara de baza a varfului Elbrus.

the first cable car on the way to the base camp of the mount Elbrus 14in a doua telecabina , castigam altitudine rapid….mai avem totusi pana la 3800 m

the second lift, gaining altitude quickly ….still,  we have yet to 3800 m 15la statia de telescaun ultima etapa spre Base Camp. se impuneau deja ochelarii de ghetar.

the last stage,  lift station to Base Camp. due to the high UV , we already require glacier glasses. 16oare cum o fi acolo sus ???

I wonder how it’s like up there? 17in asteptarea randului la telescaun….prioritate aveau cei care urcau provizii pentru bucataria taberei de baza…

waiting our turn to take the lift …. priority had those who were in charge with the camp kitchen supplies … 18nu mai merge asaaa, neprotejat, e timpul pentru sunscreen! nu conteaza ca ramai alb pe fata o perioada, toti sunt asa  acolo 🙂

that’s as far as we can go without protection, it’s time for sunscreen! Never mind the white face look for a while, they’re all like this up here  🙂 19ala mic sunt eu  cu un rucsac imens in brate..fara sisteme de asigurare, old style  baby!!!

I am a little guy with huge backpack in my lap.. no assurance systems, old style baby 20finally, in tabara de baza “The Barrels” sau la butoaie…3800 m…we are happy and we can’t hide it  !

finally, in base camp “The Barrels” … 3800 m .. We are happy and we can not hide it! 21sesiune de poze fiecare cu cine vrea si cu cine  poate…

photo session everyone with everybody no restrictions:) … 22un rand de oameni si unul de butoaie….nu, nu era omul si butoiul 🙂 li se spun Butoaie pentru ca, ei bine, sunt butoaie folosite in armata pt stocarea combustibilului. trebuie sa recunoastem, sunt destul de inventivi.

a row of people and arow of barrels …. no, it wasn’t one barrel for each man 🙂 they call it The Barrels becouse, well, it’s old fuel barrels used in the military…we have to give them credit, they are inventive  and resourcefull ! 24vecinul nostru, ghetarul….ne-am inteles de minune 🙂

our neighbor, the glacier ….we got along just great 🙂 25asa se vede de la 3800 m ….

this is the view from 3800 m 26corvus corax prawling the glacier … 27yaa baby, gimme some love !!! 28ardem de nerabdare s-o ardem in sus !!!

we just can’t wait to take a tour up ! 29but first, isn’t that lovely? 30pe ghetar, in prima tura de aclimatizare…

on the glacier, in our first aclimatation trip.. 31mai e mult pana departe….si un ratrack in coborare, un fel de taxi al muntelui…

there’s a long way until far away …. snowcat descending, kind of a mountain taxi 32prima crevasa, una din  cele cateva care se intersecteaza cu traseul nostru…

the first crevasse, one of the few that cross our path … 33ce bat de trekking, da’ un par de lemn nu-i bun??? cum sa nu, mai ales daca e gasit…candva a fost un reper pentru orientare infipt in zapada, dar acum zacea pe jos…

what trekking pole, how about a wood pole, isn’t it good?? it sure is, especially if it is found … once it was a landmark for orientation stuck in the snow, but now it’s just  lying around … 34oare unde s-or fi dus oile noastre bade?

where do you think our flock of sheeps might be? 37cota 4200 m, refugiul Pryiut, un “complex” de refugii si adaposturi, comasate in jurul cabanei Diesel

4200 m, Pryiut refuge, a “complex” of refuges and shelters, sandwiched around the lodge wich barres the name” Diesel” 38asa se vede  de la 4200 m….fiecare peisaj  era hrana pentru suflet…

view from 4200 m… each view  was like food for the soul… 39 40daaa ! s-au sfatuit toate fortele naturii si au decis sa ne dezvaluie pentru putin timp cele 2 varfuri, 5642 in stanga si 5627 m in dreapta 🙂

yeah! all the forces of nature have held a council and decided to reveal briefly the two peaks, 5642 at the right and 5627 m left  🙂 41asa ca n-am ratat ocazia  de a ma “lauda” cu a mea creatie….adevarul e ca designul si conceptia sunt ale mele iar executia apartine asociatiei “360 Degree” al carei logo apare si pe banner

so I didn’t miss the oportunity to “brag” with my own creation…truth be told, the design and layout belongs to me, and the digital workout and execution was done by the “360 Degree” mountain organisation, who’s logo is shown also on the banner. 42
“laudaros ” mai sunt  🙂 si-n dreapta si-n stanga, peste tot …

yap, that’s me, showoff, all over the place:) 43“cei trei care au speriat vestul”, citat din clasici. in cazul nostru estul:) eu cu prietenii mei…doi langa mine si doi departe la inaltime, care ne privesc de sus…

“The three that were scared the West” classical quoted. in our case the East 🙂 me and my friends … two of them besides me and two far away and high up, they are looking down at us… 44ia sa-l vedem noi mai bine… face banii sau ba? varful vestic…

let’s take a better look at it…is it worth the money or not? the west peak 45ce faci aici dom’le? creez amintiri dom’le…

what are you doing here man?
I’m making  memories man… 46coborarea pe ghetarul “murdar”, acoperit de cenusa vulcanica conglomerata, si roci vulcanice…

descent on the “dirty” glacier, covered by volcanic ash and rocks… 47cine-a pus crevasa-n drum? pai nimeni, s-a pus ea singura ca e jmechera si are-n spate un ghetar intreg…:)

hei, who put the crevasse in the middle of the road?  well, nobody, …..shit, can’t translate this couse the phrase it to “romanian” 🙂 48feeling good, doing fine so hit the road Raoul ! 49not again ! I mean , come on man …. 50

conversatie de ghetar: si ce-ai mai facut in ultima vreme? pe ici , pe colo… tu? same old shit …

51o ultima privire aruncata celor doua varfuri… inca nu pot sa cred ca sunt aici !

one last glimpse of the twin peaks … still can’t believe I’m here! 52alone on the glacier … a passenger through time and space… 53no matter what you do, you can’t get away from them…looking deep down in the black hole, I sure wish I was on a beach in Croatia…. 54foame mare dom’le…fruit leather cu unt de arahide

hungry as a horse…fruit leather with peanut butter 55ce, na-i mai rulat un joint niciodata ? asa se face

if you have never rolled a joint, this is how it’s done 56bon appetit ! 57da, suntem in elementul nostru….

yeah, we’re in the right place, at the right time… 58elementar dragul meu ……completati pe linia punctata cu cine vreti voi 🙂

elementary my dear….fill in the blanks with whomever you want 🙂 59zilnic mii de litrii de apa se topesc din ghetar si alimenteaza raurile turbate din vai….ghetarul e plin de rauletze mai mici si mai mari….. unul din ele mi-a furat parul de pastor turmelor de gheata si l-a returnat muntelui…nu m-am suparat, si el mi-a dat destul…

Daily thousands of liters of water are melting from glacier and feed the raging rivers from the valeys below… the glacier is filled with streams, some small some bigger… one of them stole the wood pole I used to shepherd the “ice flocks” and  returned it to the mountain … I wasn’t angry, he gave me enough … 60buna idee am avut cu poza asta…. intuiam ca va iesi ceva fain…si nu m-am inselat

I had a good ideea about this picture… I guessed somethig nice  would turn out… and I was right 61gata cu distractia… ziua ascensiunii, si asa cum se obisnuieste pe munti inalti, am inceput pe intuneric…

no more fun … Summit day, and as is customary on high  mountains, I started in the dark … 62dar lumina, intrucat avea o viteza mai mare decat a noastra, ce sa vezi? ne-a ajuns din urma…pe la 4900 m

but light,  having a higher speed than ours, guess what? it caught up with us … at 4900 m 63in timp ce ne mai trageam rasuflarea…diminuarea oxigenului din aer deja incepuse sa ne afecteze…

while we took a break for a breath … reduced oxygen levels in the air already begun to affect us … 64dar nu atat de mult incat sa uitam pentru ce am venit aici…

but not so much that we forget why we’re here … 65si anume, sa urcam pe muntele fizic, material, tangibil…..

and that is to climb the physical, material, tangible mountain…. 66dar si pe muntele din interior….cel pe care , uneori e mai greu de ajuns…

but also to climb the inner  mountain …. the one that sometimes it’s harder to reach … 67la aprox 5000 m …..vremea a fost nefavorabila de la inceput si pe masura ce urcam  era tot mai teribila, aruncand inspre noi ceata, vant, si un frig ce lua amploare…

at about 5000 m ….. weather was bad from the start and as the climb went on, it was more terrible, throwing at us fog, wind, and a freezing cold that was growing … 68varful era invaluit in ceata, si ne temeam  ca odata ajunsi sus nu vom vedea nimic…dar continuam sa urcam…

the summit was shrouded in fog, and we feared that once we got up, we won’t see anything … but we continued to climb … 69da, asta e inclinatia pantei pe care urcam, care cumulata cu lipsa oxigenului, te oboseste infinit mai repede decat la elevatii mai joase…si totusi, in din ce in ce mai desele pauze  ne hraneam  mintea  cu astel de peisaje suprarealiste….
food for the soul !

yes, that’s inclination of the slope we were climbing, and together with lack of oxygen, you get tired infinitely faster than at lower elevations … and yet, in the increasingly frequent breaks, we feed our mind’s eye with this surreal scenery  .. ..
trully, food for the soul! 70no time to waste, get moving….
evident nu am putut documenta foto fiecare etapa  a ascensiunii, odata trecuti de 5200 m vremea s-a inrautatit foarte tare…

no time to waste, get moving ….
Obviously we couldn’t photo document each stage of the ascent, once past the 5200 m. weather worsened severly … 71in final, dupa un efort aproape supraomenesc, o lupta grea cu fortele exterioare, dar si cu cele interioare, mesajul meu pentru lume a ajuns in varf…desi am fost inconjurati de ceata si n-am vazut nimic, pe un vant incredibil de puternic si un ger pe masura…

finally, after an almost superhuman effort, a battle with external forces, but also inner forces, my message to the world had reached the summit … though we were  surrounded by fog and didn’t see anything, battered by  an incredibly strong wind and a matching cold … 72varfurile Caucazului de la peste 5000 m , la coborare

peaks  of the Caucasus viewed from well over 5000 m, on the way down. 73 74exact  ca intr-o gluma proasta, de undeva de aproape de tabara de baza  am vazut iarasi varfurile , prin bunavointa, ce-i drept tardiva si efemera, a naturii…

just like in a bad joke, from somewhere close to base camp we saw again the summits, courtesy to the late and ephemeral will of the nature … 75dar e bine chiar si asa, traiesc clipa !

but even so, it’s all good, I’m living the moment ! 76cred atat de mult in mesajul pe care l-am purtat pe varf incat nu ma pot abtine sa nu-l afisez cat de des pot…

I believe so much in the message I wore on top that I can’t help myself to display it as often as I can … 77si marele final…

the grand finale…. 78ca sa vezi, providenta mi-a scos in cale toiagul de pastor…probabil un altul…

would you look at that, providence revealed to me once again the sheperd wood pole…probably another one… 79micile torente care se uneau la baza ghetarului curgand pe sub bolovani…asta e apa pe care am baut-o pret de 4 zile…

small streams which united at the base of the glacier and kept flowing under the boulders … this is the water we drank for 4 days … 80plafonul de nori mai avea putin si ma lovea in cap:) cu putin timp inainte ca vremea sa se inchida din nou…

the cloud ceiling had little to hit me in the head 🙂 shortly before weather window  closed again … 81asa ca am profitat pentru  o ultima poza de grup,…

so we seized the opportunity for a final group picture… 82limba ghetarului, vazuta la coborarea din telescaun…

tip of the glacier, seen at the descent from the cable skilift… 83inainte de urcarea in telecabina, ultima ocazie de a surprinde aceasta fenomenala forta a naturii, capabila sa despice muntii…

before boarding the cable car, last chance to catch this phenomenal force of nature, able to slice through the mountains … 84la ultima telecabina

at the final cablecar 85nu m-am putut abtine, ce sa fac … colector solar cu tuburi termice vidate in tuburi de sticla din borosilicat 🙂

I could not help it, what can I do … solar collector with heat pipes inside vacuum in borosilicate glass tubes 🙂 86la Mountain Cafe, careia, dintr-un motiv necunoscut noi ii spuneam Motan Cafe 🙂 ce-i drept era si un motan care bantuia pe acolo ca o stafie…berea de rigoare….

Mountain Cafe, which, for some unknown reason we called Tomcat Cafe 🙂 it’s true, there was a cat wich was haunting the area like a ghost…the necessary and well deserved beer …. 87si salata de rigoare… cat am mai visat-o….

and let’s not forget the salad…ohh, how I dreamed at it while up on the mountain… 88si uite cum ne intoarcem iarasi in gari….o noapte petrecuta ia celebra de acum gara din Rostov, incercand sa dormim  in timp ce o tanti anunta in difuzoarele generoase trenurile care vin si pleaca…toata noaptea…

and here we are in the stations again …. a night slept in the,now famous, Rostov train station, trying to sleep while a female voice  announced trains coming and going through the generous  speakers…all night long… 89nothing compares to a morning surf sesion…surfer dude 🙂 90aventura se incheie cu trecerea Nistrului in Moldova…avand drept ghid turistic pe responsabilul vagonului…

the adventure ends with the crossing of the Nistru river in Moldova … having the train wagon  chief as a tourist guide … 91ba nu…uitai ca odata ajunsi in Chisinau, mai petrecuram cateva ore si acolo in asteptarea unui microbuz.
this is my “wtf can you do man, we”ll just have to wait” face 🙂

no, wait…I forgot that once in Chisinau, we spent another few hours waiting for a minibus to take us to Iasi, Romania. this is my “wtf can you do man, we”ll just have to wait” face 🙂 92an this is my “come on, get the fuck out of here”  face 🙂

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