Elbrus is a popular mountain during the season. For my taste, a little too crowded. I was there when days where short and freezing cold - It was wonderful!
It’s the 31st of December 2016 when I leave the little shelter at 3700m Altitude. It’s more a wind shield than a hut, filled with snow the inside temperitures vary in between minus 25 to minus 10 on a warm day. I move along some stones through the night. It feels much colder than usually when I take out the little rocket and try to start it. Only after 10 minutes I finally mange to inflame it with my freezing fingers. I take a step back, but all I hear ist a little ‚Plopp‘ Ahh backfire!
The following evening ist already set in a new year, I pack everything for the summit puh as I realize this one crucial thing. OH NO! I forgot the front wire of my crampons- without that metal wire it’s impossible to connect them to my boots. Somehow I’m relieved. I have a good reason to return home. My sleeping bag is partly filled with frozen sweat already and doesn't dry anymore.
But I have invested so much time and effort into this testing project - if I return now, I will regret it. I find and old screw driver in the hut and start to take my ski binding apart. The wire of the ski binding doesn't fit completely but fixed with some tent line it will work- hopefully.
In the early morning my feet carry me up above the blue ice fields to test my crampons construction. But also to acclimatize and check for a possible camp location. Since my arrival on this mountain I was followed by a dog. I hope it would return from wherever it came from but it seems like it’s from this area and used to temperitures. After a few hours the terrain gets steeper and steeper but the dog still follows me. I came here to be alone and there is really nobody here but the damn dog still follows me. I wish that it will just return and go where it came from. It just keeps following me up to around 4400m where I enter more difficult ice conditions. It doesn't take long until I realize that the dog slides down the steep ice. Its speed increases and increases until it hits a rock and disappears in the dept.
Now I feel begin to feel a little sorry for it, but there is nothing I can do for this poor creature. i continue to climb up to 4600m just to realize that this place isn’t suitable for a camp. The wind that blows up here hits the unprotected ridge at full speed. So slowly descent and I tell myself that I will skip this camp during my summit push and stumble across the dog in that moment. it is still living and seems almost uninjured to me - blood only runs out of small cuts. I’m so happy to see it. All the frustration about it following me is gone. Hahaha - you stupid dog!
After a resting day my alarm goes off at 00.00am - time to move up.
I don’t have to get on anything except my expedition boots, simply because I wear my down suit inside the sleeping bag to feel comfortable. The water is melted out of snow already - I eat an energy bar and take my carbon ski poles. And… of course the dog follows me. Somehow it’s nice not be alone and I keep talking to the dog. I mean I didn’t see anybody for about a week. I choose a speed I can continue on forever that means I’m not very fast but I never need to take any break and I feel quite warm. Once an hours I take a sip from my drinking bottles. 100ml mango TANG - some kind of fruit powder (in my case with mango taste) that I brought from Argentina but is also commonly used in Nepal. The other 100ml I take from bottle filled with an energy drink called Peronin - a liter of it contains almost 1000kcal. now that it’s getting steeper the dog stops and looks for a resting spot on a rock.
The sun still did not rise when I reached the upper point of the rocks of Lenz at 4800m. The wind blows and creates freezing temperatures. My thermometer ( I had to by one fro freezers) shows about 46 degrees minus. My content speed keeps me warm but I look at the burning sky and wish for a quick sunrise.
Shortly before 06.00am the light on the horizon allows me to tun of my headlamp and at 5200m I start to traverse to the saddle in between the two summits. Simply cause you're on the wrong side of the mountain when you do the north face of Elbrus. To reach the main summit I have to traverse about 2 kilometers and climb about 400 altitude meters.
The symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) start to affect me. I get a slight pressure on my head and I feel slightly sick - I loose my appetite and just can’t drink something anymore. But thats something I knew. I have a time window of about 6 hours in which I can do this without getting too sick. This time I really want to use so I keep pushing a constant speed up the mountain. My tunnel view blurs the surrounding. One step before another. There is the summit, in moment you’ll be there…
Nope… Now that I stand up here I see it: I’m on the wrong part of the summit. It’s just some snow blown together to a little hill. I could womit. Even though I move on and an undefined time later shortly after 10.00am I stand at 5642m on the top of Europe. It’s almost like I could see the black ocean in the distance - taking about 10 hours to get up here I’m on time and will be down before it’s dark. I run down the mountain- breathe deep and slowly I tell myself, otherwise I really have to womit. And who lays down there on the rock and waits for me? The dog ist still there! I’m so happy to walk the last bit together with it.