Recently, I start to research on coming Iraq & Iran expedition in 2017. Reading a number of books about Central Asia and Middle East, which recall my crazy memory on Caucasus mountain range in both North and South side.
For south side – Here:
In 2015 September end, I booked a very cheap fly from Berlin to Mineral Water (is an airport), about 120 Euro round way, because of off season maybe.
Arrived Mineral Water at mid night, I was the only one mountaineer head to Elbrus in the arrival hall. According to Russia embassy in Hong Kong, I ENJOY 14 days free visa in Russia. However, the border officer, who is a old Russian lady, non English speaker, held my passport for 4 hrs and strongly informed me that I have to show her a travelling document. My HK passport was meaningless for her at all. According to my worldwide border crossing experience, stay claim and keep inform my personal right will help!! Eventually, at 4 am, the officer received a phone call from Moscow (she said) and granted me 14 days freedom in Caucasus mountain range.
No-surprised, The CIS and Russian taxi drivers and sharing-van drivers is a money sucker regarding to my Kazakhstan memory. Everytime we took public transports, the driver always take double price even the local person is helping…. To be honest, it is doesnt matter for me at all because the USA oil strategy attack the Economic of Russia a lot and make everything is so cheap. From Airport to the bottom of mountain cost less than 8 euro, 4 – 6 hr! And, we stay in the hotel only 10 Euro per night too.
Day 2 , We arrive base camp at 3900 m…at 1400. Once we setup the tent, We slept at once til 2000pm….and prepare dinner for early start at 4 am tmr
Day 3, as you know, I am a bit lazy person….we wake up at 8 am instead of 4 am…but we still manage to reach 4800 m mountain in. 2.5 hr .very good speed!! But once we return the camp…we discovered all the water have petrol taste inside…maybe there is a fuel leakage on the glacier and the water we collect is polluted….so, no choice..we still drink directly from the fuel taste water …..I know I will be killed one day by this cancer fuel tasted water.
Day 4, my partner have headache. Therefore we cancel the summit day at mid night!! There is a search for a missing Russian climber…..I hope he is fine!….Today I setup my own tent and sleep comfortable!
Day 5, We push at 2 am from the basecamp in 3900m . The air is crystal and very cold..about -15 with wind. We departed at 3 am under the red moon light…is great experience for me to climb under the red moon. But the higher I go, the colder I experience…my arm cannot feel several times and I keep to take in candy to get more heat. Once we reach 5000m my partner said his back hurt and one solo Russia told us this is impossible to summit today as the snow is too much! ( However, I trust my experience and knowledge more than Russian). Therefore, I continue push to high under the deep snow field! But my partner give up eventually and leave me to climb alone! Once I arrive 5200m I meet two Russia climbers….one of them is super tired. He walk few steps then have to sleep a while to recover….like the Hong Kong way to kill the fish….let it kill itself by the environment! I try to help but he want to attack me instead! Therefore, I let them disappear in the whiteout and I continue move up of the deep and steep snow mountain . At 5400, I drink my fuel taste water…..and I cannot drink this kind of water anymore. Nearby I find a backpack with full equipment….I think those are the last team’s equipment..Basically he abandoned everything and just go down…..scared story I saw…I do not understand why poor people push their limits without knowing their limits!
Wind pick up and whiteout is come…I still have 200m high to go on 800m distance..For sure I arrive the peak but I do not see the point why I have to come here….The view is not better than in the Alps. The technical is not more challenging than in the Alps…I do not understand! But the peak is damn cold. I manage to take few pictures.
At that moment, I do understand why the last team want to drop all equipments as this is too heavy now. I descend on the avalanche runway, where is the faster way to go down. But the whiteout come again and I do not see far .I have to stop every 100m in order to check is safe to go or not.
Life still and I still do not understand why people do mountaineering indeed. I will forget this sport soon.
Once I return our base camp at 3900 m and meet back my climbing partner. Life is fun again with great partnership. I hope he can summit next time.
Day 6, Heading back the village enjoy BBQ lunch with nice hotel…… Total operation 40 Euro