Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Expedition Archives: Elbrus 2017


Elbrus: St Petersburg

July 17, 2017

The top of Europe is in Russia, in the Caucasus, between the Caspian and Black Seas. I’m climbing it with IMG, guided by Mike Hamill. I hope to complete my goal of climbing the Seven Summits before my 50th birthday. Let’s see how this goes. First, we have to get there. Starting in St. Petersburg … Continue reading Elbrus: St Petersburg


Elbrus: Parting with St. Petersburg

July 18, 2017

Lovely morning in the city, seeing a few more sights before flying to Mineral Vody and then driving up to Terskol at the foot of the mountain. Now safely in Terskol, a beautiful village in the mountain forests… more tomorrow, for now I sleep!


Elbrus: Treading on the Trail

July 19, 2017

The plan for today was for an acclimatization hike to 10,000 feet. And so we did. Gear check is done. Massive thunderclaps and rainstorm are cooling everything off. We are comfortable and happy. Tomorrow, we will ride the trams and head higher still. It will be a good day.


Elbrus: Training Day

July 20, 2017

Today we went higher, to about 12,300 feet, courtesy of a gnarly network of trams and chairlifts. The goal: Practice our roped travel skills. Grey skies, slashing rain, corn snow. It was fun!   Hail gave way to nasty rain, and we headed down on schedule at 2 PM. In summary, all went well. We … Continue reading Elbrus: Training Day


Elbrus: To Igor’s Hut

July 21, 2017

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 … Continue reading Elbrus: To Igor’s Hut


Elbrus: On the Rocks

July 22, 2017

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.   … Continue reading Elbrus: On the Rocks


Elbrus: The Blizz

July 23, 2017

As usual before an alpine start, I had trouble sleeping. This is always the case, on any mountain, large or small. Being in the bunks made things more challenging because of cramped quarters, etc. Great hut-mates, I assure you, but not a restful spot for any of us. Nevertheless I did sleep, with the deep … Continue reading Elbrus: The Blizz


Elbrus: Top of Europe

July 24, 2017

I slept for about two hours in total that night, rolling and shifting in the sleeping bag, checking my watch by the red tactical light every 20 minutes or so. I listened for a storm like the one we had the night before, but things sounded quiet outside. Will we go? Traveler’s diarrhea had hit … Continue reading Elbrus: Top of Europe