Mt. Elbrus, Russia 18,510′, 5642m July 20 – 30, 2010

Mt. Elbrus is the highest mountain in the European continent making it one of the highly sought after Seven Summits.  This year Kurt Wedberg returns to Mt. Elbrus on a private trip with long time good friends of SMI John Rogitz and Bill Simon.  John is a veteran of Aconcagua and many climbs in the Sierra.  Bill reached the summit of Kilimanjaro in February and has climbed Mt. Whitney and Mt. Rainier plus has many climbs on Mt. Baldy in Southern California under his belt.

Bill and Kurt arrived in St. Petersburg on July 20 and spent July 21 touring parts of the city, the Hermitage Museum, and the Peterhof Palace.  John arrived this afternoon.  Everybody’s luggage made it intact and the team is ready to fly to Mineralnye Vody on July 22 where they will drive to the Baksan Valley and begin acclimatization hikes.  Stay tuned for updates as the days progress.

Here are a few highlights from a day or touring this historical and fascinating city:

The Church of the Resurrection. Construction began in 1883 by Alexander III as a monument to his father Alexander II. Also known as the Church of Spilled Blood it was finished in 1907.

Bill and Kurt at St. Isaacs Cathedral. This is the largest Russian Orthodox church in St. Petersburg. Construction took 40 years between 1818 and 1858. Each of the pillars (112 total) is a single solid piece of granite weighing 80 tons (about 177,770 pounds) each!

The Hermitage Museum. This was originally Peter the Great's winter palace. Today it is one of the most famous art museums in the world. Its 365 rooms contain an impressive amount of artwork from around the world including paintings 16,783 works of graphic art 621,274 sculptures 12,556 works of applied art 298,775 archeological monuments 734,400 numismatics 1,125,323 other exhibit items 144,185. To view everything in this museum would take years and only 10% of what the museum currently owns is on display to the public.

Bill and expert guide Catherine in front of Rembrandt's classic painting The Return of the Prodigal Son. Of all the world renown works of art housed in this museum this is one of the most famous.

After a 3 hour visit the Hermitage Museum seeing some of the many highlights we took this hydrofoil boat across the Neva River to the entrance to the Baltic Sea to visit the Peterhof Palace.

Bill traveling in style on the hydrofoil en route to the Peterhof Palace.

The Peterhof Palace. This was originally Peter the Great's summer palace. It was heavily damaged during World War II by German bombs. Today it is well on its way to being restored.

Damaged statues and fountains were restored and placed alongside original pieces that survived WWII.

Many statues and fountains on the Peterhof grounds are electroplated gold and symbolize Greek mythology.

In addition to restoring buildings, statues, and fountains 15,000 trees were planted. The Peterhof grounds are full of pretty gardens offering beautiful scenery and comforting shade.during a pleasant afternoon walk.

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