Today we moved up onto the flanks of Mt Elbrus and will spend the next couple of days here doing acclimatizing hikes. Our base of operations is the Diesel Hut at 13,451′, 4100m. The Diesel Hut is a 2-story structure that can hold approximately 40 people.
It is equipped with large propane tanks and stoves for cooking. It was named after a generator powered by diesel fuel that gives the hut electricity for lighting. This generator has worked every year since I started coming to this hut but unfortunately it is currently not in operation. In spite of that the Diesel Hut is still a comfortable place to stay while we get ready to make our summit attempt. It was built in 2002 next to the old Priut 11 Hut that stood here from 1938 until it burned down in 1998.
The weather today was cloudy with intermittent rain that turned to snow above 12,500′, 3810m. We arrived at the Diesel Hut at 12:30. We took some time to find bunk space where we unrolled out sleeping bags and pads. We then ate lunch and organized our gear before setting off on an afternoon acclimatization hike. Weather remained cloudy but precipitation had ceased as we set off to climb another 1000′. The clouds lifted enough to offer us a nice view of Mt Elbrus in front of us and the Baksan Valley behind. We could also see the mountains on the opposite side of the Baksan Valley that stretch well in to Georgia.
We kept a steady methodical pace getting into a nice rhythm with our breathing and walking. This is the foundation for efficient high altitude mountaineering. Taking these hikes to higher elevation triggers our bodies to produce more red blood cells that are the basis for acclimatization to the thinner air with decreased oxygen.
As our hike continued a cloud moved in obscuring our view bringing with it wind and snow. We stopped for a quick refueling break and donned our waterproof/breathable jackets that offer protection from the elements and keep us dry.
1 1/2 hours after beginning our hike we reached an elevation of 14,500′, 4420m. Reaching our goal for the day we turned around and made our way back to the Diesel Hut. A pizza dinner was accompanied by hot soup and tea.
Everybody on the team is performing well and feeling great. Tomorrow we plan a longer acclimatization hike another 1000′, 300m+ in elevation. If this hike goes well we will have put ourselves in position for a summit attempt as soon as July 26 weather permitting. While we always take things one step at a time on these high altitude climbs the excitement and anticipation are building.
Thanks to everybody for your support. Please pray for our continued safety, good health, and for the weather to give is an opportunity to make a summit attempt soon!