First of all, my success on Mt. Elbrus and my amazing adventure in Russia never would've happened without all of you. Your support has been absolutely amazing and I hope you all enjoy hearing my stories.
Setting up this trip was a bit chaotic. The guide I usually climb with and wanted to climb with on Elbrus was unable to take a trip this year, which meant more planning on my part. Fortunately, he was still around for advice and he even recommended a group in Russia. Thankfully another of his usual climbers also decided to join me. After some miscommunications and stressful moments we got the whole trip planned and I boarded my flights to Russia! It was comforting to know that I had one of my climbing partners meeting me at the airport and an even bigger relief finally meeting her. Her name is Vibeke and she rocks!
The ride to the hotel was interesting and fun. First of all, the highways in and around Moscow are terrifying! There are marked lane lines and posted speed limits but I think they are just suggestions. Motorcycles flew by, cars cut each other off. It was intense just riding in the car, I couldn't imagine driving there. On the ride, Vibs and I talked about all our experiences climbing and about life in general. She told me about her amazing job for the United Nations and her experiences all around the world. We also have very similar feelings about traveling. We were both tired and could've probably taken a nap when we got to the hotel but we were in Russia!!! We had to get out and explore! A local market was close to the hotel so we spent most of the evening there. On the Fourth of July we headed for downtown Moscow and Red Square! It was strange to spend America's biggest holiday in the center of the former USSR but what an experience. We also spent hours in the State History Museum looking at treasures from Russia's past. There were many beautiful things to see in Moscow but my mind was always drifting towards Mt. Elbrus.
I woke up early on July 5th, headed to the airport and boarded another flight, this one bound for Mineralyne Vody, Russia. Waiting at baggage claim was our guide Sergi and other climbers from our team. The drive to our hotel was quite long and equally as exciting as our rides in Moscow. The only difference being that cows were a common obstacle on the roads. About a hour into the drive the scenery changed from rolling farming fields to some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. We were finally there! We had an informal dinner at the hotel that evening. Tomorrow we would actually get out on the mountain!