Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Arrival and some not-so-Hot Springs

Day 1, June 3rd, 2012: Kislovodsk to Base Camp, Hot Springs Acclimatization Hike

As I wrote yesterday, I was given the choice of climbing the south side of the mountain with a guide but no one else or joining a large expedition going up the difficult north side of Elbrus. I chose to do the north side based on my life philosophy that everything happens for a reason. I had signed up to climb the south side but it wasn’t meant to be, and now I’m on the north side… I hope I made the right choice!

Anyway, we drove the 90km between Kislovodsk and Elbrus Base Camp in five hours this morning. Due to a recent downpour of rain, we were warned that we might have to hike the last 20km of road to Base Camp. Luckily, the mud wasn’t too bad and we made it all the way in our crazy, communist-looking 4WD jeeps. Since we arrived around lunch time, we were able to take a fun hike over to the nearby hot springs. Elbrus is a volcano, and has sulphur and iron hot springs located on the north side close to Base Camp. It was roughly 40mins walk, but instead of the 80-90˚ F temperatures we were expecting, the water was a chilly 70˚ F. Despite this, I and three of my teammates (Tim, Mikael, and Ali) got in. It was quite an experience! The spring acted like a (very aggressive) massage if you pressed your back up against the stone wall. It was a bit too much for me, to be honest.

We headed back after and ate a light meal before heading to bed. Our first night on the mountain! Woo hoo! I hope we have some crazy altitude dreams...those are the best.
Approaching the mountain in our Russian van.

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