It was a superb trip, lots of fun, hard work and extremely well organised by GoRussia. Dasha was a superb guide, extremely well informed and very experienced, very much a pleasure to have leading our team. Mont Blanc and Elbrus are two totally different peaks, both with their pros and cons. Elbrus was very much a non-technical climb and as long as one is physically fit and doesn’t suffer from altitude sickness, is quite easy to do. Attitudes towards safety are more lax than my experience on Mont Blanc. If this is something that bothers you, then common sense should tell you where you should pay attention (and that’s really the area before the summit as described above). We were lucky in that the weather was good but I had the feeling that the weather would have to be extremely bad before our Russian guides would say ‘no-go’ on a summit attempt whereas our Italian guides the previous year were much more conscious about weather conditions (to be fair, they were qualified guides and mountain rescuers whereas Dasha was only a qualified guide).
It was a plus having already known and worked professionally with the majority of my team. I don’t think it’s an inconvenience working with people you don’t know. In fact, in our group, there were only four of us that had summited Mont Blanc together.
My only negative remarks are around the fact that the mountain is very unkempt. Whereas my experience on Mont Blanc showed me that the environment is looked after, Elbrus is nowhere near the same and does appear to be a rubbish tip in some areas. Indeed, there are the remains of a Land Rover on the eastern peak following on from an accident after a world record attempt. I also came across a facebook page whilst doing some background research for this article where a French team went up to clean the place up (a month after our summit attempt). They came down with 2 tonnes of rubbish.
I’ve definitely got the bug for mountain climbing. Plans are already afoot for the next peak we going to do. Probably Kilimanjaro.
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