Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mt Elbrus - The North Face and Beyond!

The South Face of Mt Elbrus has re-opened and the Expedition Wise team will be heading there at the end of July to tackle the awesome summit. Over the next few weeks we will be blogging an account of a previous attempt on the North Face, to whet your appetite!

Part 1 – The old man takes to the hills

So the countdown begins.
The on-off-on Elbrus Expedition is back on, although slightly changed. Because of the troubles between Chechnya and Georgia we’ve been prevented from crossing the border. So we decided that the only way to climb this mountain is by the North Face!
The rest of the clients booked on the original trip to the south side all dropped out, so that left just BJ and me. All very exciting but with just 26 days left to get everything together, that little voice in the back of my head suggests that it’s quite a big ask.
But hey! That’s just adding to the adventure!! Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Must be.
The fun really starts with the Visa application, I was expecting the system to be detailed but not the Spanish Inquisition (or maybe that should read Russian Inquisition). If you’re going to apply for a visa then set aside the better part of a day and have a flask of coffee/tea/something stronger close to hand, you’ll need it.

Part II – Getting outdoors

So a very rushed “shake down” on an Expedition Wise – High Altitude Training weekend trying out the new Osprey Argon 85L sack with a good load aboard. I haven’t humped a big sack for years. Treks with porters and yaks has made me soft! Hence a simple bimble on Snowdon is now an exercise in load hauling.
With my mountain kit spread between two places the first challenge is to find enough kit to fill the pack.
Running close to the wind I had to dash the mile or so to the station to catch the first of many trains to North Wales. Arriving hot and sweaty for a train packed with commuters, I fitted right in. After a fight with a ticket machine at the tube station I discovered I’d “lost” my outbound ticket, great start. This discovery cost me not only financially, I missed the train too! After pleading my case at the ticket desk and with the aid of the East European angel sitting before me I’m off to Dublin!? HaHa
Cock-up list list so far :-

Lack of the actual high altitude/big mountain kit to haul
Walkman on worktop still charging
Loss of outbound ticket
- On return home looks like the powermonkey is still at Pen-Y-Pas

Off Again!

What with work in between haven’t had enough time to breathe. This time the ticket is SuperGlued to the forehead, taking no chances and not repaying this time!

I haven’t had time to eat properly for two days,always a good basis to start a 3 Peaks challenge on.

Note to self – must start weighing the beast, it must be well over 20kgs. The need to consolidate kit and amend for the trip is essential.

A well co-ordinated departure from work with Pete at the wheel put me in place for the 1st leg of a multi train journey tonight. A slick transition finds me gnawing at a couple of pasties on Euston station – got déjà vu, feels like I’ve been here before!

An hour on a concourse can feel like a life time. Although this time it’s eased by the appearance from through the curtain of rain of the obligatory station drunk complete with pink plastic flamingo tucked deftly under his arm, a moment of self reproach, and why not? The “Mr Benn shopkeeper” appearance of the Buddhist monk gave me a jolt back into focus.

Why worry about what hasn’t happened and allow it to cloud the mind with negative energy. Better to concentrate on what is happening and the space to fill with the moment. This week started with an insidious grey creeping spiders web, which I’m struggling to free my mind from, it’s tendrils reaching out from the past and distracting the “future’s” path.

A small shouting child and the loudest most self-important and more crucially an unfunny Frenchman share my carriage and disturb both thought and my intended sleep. The setting sun’s rays permeate the leaden sky illuminating my page. As it sets it takes the woes, worries and problems with it, cleaning the slate ready for tomorrow. Tiredness is when; each day’s memories and actions makes it feel like two. Into the arms of Morpheus.

An ignominious arrival at BJ’s place, it’s an oxymoron to live somewhere called “Rock House” and be in bed by 9:30pm, surely? A cup of tea and a quick clean and bed.

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