Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Elbrus: To Igor’s Hut

Elbrus 2017  •  July 21

The climb starts in earnest now… moving the team onto the mountain is key. One of our guides, Igor, has a modest “hut” on the mountainside above the top of the lifts. That is our objective for the day.

Our kits are heavy. In fact, this is the heaviest move of the trip, which is a blessing because it is so short walk from the lifts.

And, in an auspicious fashion… I forgot my trekking pole with gimbal and GoPro at the bottom of the lift! Putting a group duffel in my free hand somehow made me forget about it. I realized this just before we reached the top of the second lift. Holy cow, the thought of my precious gimbal in the hands of a stranger just twisted my giblets something fierce. Plus, going down created a logistical hassle for the guides.

But, I had to go back, and Igor kindly offered to ride with me. It was nice to chat with him and learn more about his career and about the valley in general. And it was VERY nice to see the gimbal right there where I had left it! Another teammate had left his poles there, too, for the same reason, and we recovered them as well.

No harm, no foul, and Igor and I made our way to the hut in about 90 minutes. Heavy, sunny, and hot as hell, with soft snow all the way. And beautiful.

Steve looks for the vestiges of connectivity during our ride up.
Bruce enjoys the view.
So does Ali.
My photo for the day.
Twin peaks of Elbrus.
One of many huts on the rocky spines above the lifts. This one is being expanded, apparently.
Great shnikes it was hot. Meltwater on the left… corn snow under foot.
My usual sun protection system. It works.
Who do we see ahead of us on the ridge?
Team Bear Back!
The outside of Igor’s hut. Most every point of weather intrusion has been plugged one way or another… or so it seems.
Initially we were not sure why this ladder was here. A couple days later it became clear.
Drying our boots outside the hut.
The true summit is actually obscured from view by the rocky ridge on far left.
Makeshift fence to keep people out of the garbage pit.
Basically, the whole place looks like a garbage pit.
Sue and Dave enjoy the air while waiting for the lav.
It’s a short and sporting walk to the lav.
A foul, reeking hole. But, sheltered from the wind and with a modicum of privacy.
And auspicious location.
Other “huts” nearby.
This card game was a ton of fun.
It involves a white ghost, green frog, red carpet, grey bathtub, and blue brush. And catlike reactions.
A little pond of meltwater formed out front each day.
Other “huts” nearby.
Cloudsea below.
Steve photographs the landscape.
He hauled that massive lens up there. Impressive.
Panorama at sunset from the rocks above our hut.
Sunset at the far ridge.
Some impressive peaks across the valley.
This one in Georgia must be 16,000 feet high.
Valley below socked in.

Dinner was a tasty mix of burritos, which I call Hamilitos. We squeezed into the bunks and settled in for a night of laughter and snoring. It was a good day.

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