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07/04/03 - 07/16/03
Russia, where plans change REAL quickly and where people think we're strange for wearing shorts and smiling a lot! In a quest to climb the fabled "7 Summits" that are affordable yet do-able, Mt Elbrus was next after Kilimanjaro. Mt Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe and lies in the Caucasus mountain range between the Black and Caspian Seas. Steve Bonowski of the Colorado Mountain Club was leading his 6th trip to Elbrus and given the low cost and smoothness of his trips, it couldn't be turned down. As a result, Steve and Russian-speaking Mike Shifman led 16 of us from the CMC to Moscow, Elbrus Valley, up and down Mt Elbrus (hope I didn't spoil anything and blow the cover that I made it), and back to Moscow. It was amazing. Check it out......016-moscow.jpg (98700 bytes)

Moscow- We stayed in the Hotel Russiya (largest hotel in Europe), right next to Red Square. The buildings in Moscow are all enormous, old, and beautiful. A lot of time spent hanging out in Red Square, walking around to see the sights, and even a bus tour of the local touristy favorites with a history lesson.


024-elbrus valley.jpg (125218 bytes)Elbrus Valley- The starting ground for most trips up the mountain. Around 7000ft and several valleys to hike around leading to glaciers and spectacular views of the high peaks all around. We stayed in a Dacha where the vodka is cheap and Usef the bartender played Dire Straits over and over for us. A few interesting encounters with the locals here!


051-elbrus.jpg (57508 bytes)Mt Elbrus- The pinnacle of our trip, the mountain! An extinct double-coned volcano standing tall at 18,510ft. We took the gondola and shady single-chairlifts up to around 12,000ft where we would make home for the next several days. The weather was...interesting, full on blizzard the first day and beautiful the next couple for our summit attempt.

Link to just pictures


Since a week and a half wasn't quite enough vacation and friends are stationed in nearby Germany, I met up with them for a handful of days in Grindelwald Switzerland....