Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Elbrus: On the Rocks

Elbrus 2017  •  July 22

Our job for the day was to acclimatize further by hiking to the Pastukhov Rocks, at about 14,500 feet. So, after breakfast, up we went.

Beautiful location, and fine conditions, although cold and windy after the first hour. Our views expanded as we went higher. We moved well. I felt pretty good up there.


Pulling into a break on the Rocks.
Bruce bundles up against the breeze.
My obligatory daily photo.
Contemplating the route above.
Backs to the wind.
Searching for a signal.
Sasha takes care of business.
Looking down the rocks towards the hut.

After getting to our high point, we turned around and headed back to the hut, where we prepped for an early morning summit departure. Weather forecasting on Elbrus is a tricky, unreliable affair… but, it looked like we might get some foul weather pretty early, meaning a summit by 8 AM would be important. Thus, most of us chose to ride a snow cat back to the rocks in order to cut the climb by two hours. Is this cheating? Yep… just like riding the lifts to the barrels, or taking a plane to Russia in the first place. I had no qualms about this, though I am totally impressed with our teammates who chose to walk out of the hut on foot.

Mike would wake us at 1:45 if the weather was good… if not, we would sleep right on through until breakfast and try again the next day.

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