Location- Vladikavkaz, Russia
Thought of the day- resting is not cheating
Song of the day- Ernie’s by Fat Freddy’s Drop
-Cruz adventure roof racks & accessories, supplied at Mr G’s Auto 1
-Scott for looking after Gavin
-Edgewater College and School Holidays
-Oleg, Kazbek and Zalina Bazoeva
-my awesome sponsors Suunto, Bivouac and Yealands Raise a glass
To be honest… I am tired! And you know what? I think that is ok, so I am going to rest for a couple of days as I travel to the mountain. As much as I love sharing this story and writing these blogs it can also be rather taxing. So I have decided to combine a couple of days as they have not contained the same level of adventure as the past few.
We left Mestia in the morning so we would be able to drop Boris the van off and reach the border crossing before midnight as Zarina’s dad Oleg would be waiting for us on the Russian side. This was a very long day on transit but I managed to spend most of it stretched out my thermarest mattress is the back. We finally cross the border and Oleg is waiting for us with a good Russian meal, two of the biggest pork chops I have ever seen. It is safe to say had had meat sweats for the next couple of hours.
We arrive in Vladikavkaz at 1:30am and get some much needed sleep. The next day we spend doing little admin jobs and seeing some sights. I managed to meet one of the living legends of Mt Elbrus Kazbek and we shared stories of the mountains and he gave me some great advice on climbing Elbrus. We indulge in all of the local delicacies of Ossetia (the region) and get an early night as Oleg was taking us into the mountains in the morning.
We are met downstairs by Zarina and the worlds friendliest Russian and head off for a relaxing day in the mountains to help my acclimatisation. We also visited old ruins from B.C. time to a few hundred years ago. This was basically a day of History as the region has such a long and rich one. We saw some incredible old statues depicting war heroes was and Oleg emotionally described what they were all about, but the place that was the most amazing/cryptic was some buildings on the side of a hill that only had windows and no door. We asked Oleg why that was and he explained with a tear in his eye and hand on his heart that when the Black Plague hit Ossetia the families would build these houses around the people and give them food through the window. So they were basically voluntary prisons/tombs where infected people would go to die so they would not infect any others from the village. It was a morbid yet incredible journey through time depicting the sacrifices people of this area made back then and in more modern day war. Both me and Rich were extremely moved by what we had seen today and we both made a promise that one day we would go visit Gallipoli in Turkey to see the sacrifices made for us my our countrymen. To wind down after that we went to a beautiful cafe to relax and we heard Fat Freddy’s coming through the speakers. NZ music represent!
When we got back we met Zarina’s brother Kazbek and wife Zalina and had a beautiful dinner out at one of the locals hot spot. Kazbek’s cheeky yet friendly character made him instantly relatable to us kiwi lads. We had two fantastic days and made great friends with some of the most generous, friendly and down to earth people I have met. We cannot thank the Bazoeva family including Zarina enough for the time we spent there and look forward to shouting a Kiwi BBQ when they come to out shores. But I still have a job to do and it was on the bus to Terskol. Next stop Mt Elbrus!
I finally got my first look at Mt Elbrus as the weather prevented any views from the border. Finally seeing it put chills down my spine as it is all so real now. I actually got a glimpse of the finish line, wow. Now up up and up!