It is now day 12 into the sea2summit7 adventure of Mt Elbrus and I think it is due time to give everyone a bit of a summary of what has happened so far and so we are all on the same page I will explain what my plan of attack is for the summit climb. So hopefully if you have just tuned into this journey you will be up to speed and eagerly follow from here.
Day 1– Run 42km from the Black sea past a town called Zigdidi
– This was my first taste of the Georgian heat, and gave me a good idea of what I would be in for over the next week running in 30 degrees coming from training in New Zealand winter. I decided to split my run half marathon in the morning and another half marathon in the evening.
Day 2– Run 32km from Zigdidi to Jvari
– Today I learnt a lesson that I need to make sure I am following my nutrition routine as I was expending more energy than I was replacing. I called the day short so I could refuel for tomorrow
Day 3– Run 42km from Jvari to ??, aka middle of nowhere
– Back on track today and the running went off without a hitch. Kept a steady pace and enjoyed running next to magical scenery next to the Mestia river and the reservoir.
Day 4– Run 10km to Nakra river
– This was my final section of road to run before heading off the track. I decided to get to the road end and go to Mestia to sort out accommodation to prepare for the big day getting to the border and back. Instead of returning to do another 10km of track I decided to start early and add that distance to tomorrow.
Day 5– Run/walk 28km for my first attempt at making it to the border of Georgia
– 3am start this morning as I knew it would take me all day to get to the border and back. Unfortunately after saying goodbye to Rich and the track I crossed the river only to get stopped by the border control who sent me back to Nakra. I ran an extra 12km of road thinking I would now have to run to Mestia (34km away) to try and reach the border from there. Once in Mestia, Zarina translated a meeting with the head of border patrol who gave me a special 1 day permit to access the closed zone which had never been given to a foreigner before. So my original plan was back on.
Day 6– Run/walk 32km from border control to border and back to Nakra.
-With a military Jeep escort I was taken right into the border control hut which stopped me the day before and I presented my celebrity permit. I was then told the best way to go and that two comrades would be waiting to take me across the river safely by horse. I have never felt so important in my life, but as soon as I crossed the river I was once again all on my own to get up to the border at 3,400m. After 4 continuous hours of hard yakka I became the only tourist ever to reach this Georgian/Russia border and the feeling was incredible. I knew that logistically this would be my biggest battle of the whole adventure and I had made it. I safely ran all the way back to Nakra town where Rich was waiting for me and I collapsed from exhaustion.
Day 7- Drive to Russia
– We spent the day driving to Russia as I rested on the mattress in the back of the van. I was wasted!
Day 8- Rest day in Vladikavkaz
– Nice day spent in Vladikavkaz with Zarina’s family and doing administrative stuff preparing for my Mt Elbrus climb.
Day 9- Tour of Ossetia
– Incredible day seeing the historical sights of the region from B.C. to world war two.
Day 10- Arrive in Terskol (Russian border town near Elbrus) try and walk to Russian border
I tried to get right to the border on the Russian side that would line up with where I made it to from Georgia but the whole area is closed and there was no way I was able to get in. I walked 4km north and made it to within 2km of the border before being shooed away, which was much closer than I could have walked at the official border crossing anyway. I did not want to push my luck and try to bribe the police as this may have resulted in not being allowed to climb Mt Elbrus. I plan to see if i can get closer once I have made it to the summit but for now the journey must go on.
Day 11- Walk 12km from Russian border at altitude 2,200m to Mt Elbrus camp 1 at 3,800m
– I met local climbing guru Abdul (holding the Sochi Olympics torch- see video) who gave me the best itinerary to get to the summit then I continued my journey from the border to the base of the mountain where there is a small ski and climbing village at the base of the gondola. I walked up a path created by construction machines, while above me all the other climbers were being transported to base camp via a luxury gondola. Part of me was jealous as it was a hot, repetitive and arduous walk up but I knew that this is what sea to summit was all about and I was acclimatizing in a much better way. After 3 hours I reached base camp to see a litter of huts, snow mobiles, power-lines and machinery. This was not the type of secluded natural base camp I was use to, but I reminded myself that the lower section of this mountain was a ski field and that I had an incredible panoramic view of the Caucasus including the border peak I was standing on days earlier. I had finally made it to a position where with this adventure was completely achievable from here. The only thing in my way now was the highest mountain in Europe!
Day 12– Acclimatization climb up to 5,000m then return down low to rest and wait for a good weather window
Day 13– Rest day
Day 14– Climb back up to base camp at 3,800m and sleep.
Day 15– Wake up at 2am get everything ready for a 3am departure to the Summit!
Day 16- Back up day to climb to summit in case of bad weather.
Only a few days to go now, so please stay tuned and follow me as i knock this bastard off!
Dave- Get amoungst it