Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My First Big Load

Day 3, June 5th, 2012: Carry Day from Base Camp to High Camp

When I decided to go for the north side route of Elbrus instead of the much easier south side, I knew I would have to carry much bigger loads. I was hoping that I would be fit enough to do it, but it was a bet…I hadn’t actually ever tested my load-carrying abilities. Well, not until today. Luckily, I came out positively. I loaded up my 85li Osprey pack with almost all of my gear and with 7 additional kg of group gear. In all, I was carrying over 25kg on my bag. Surprisingly, it wasn’t bad at all. At first it was a bit of a slog, but over time you get used to the weight and it turns into any other hiking day. About halfway up to High Camp, the weather went from beautiful to very bad, very quickly. I decided not to change into my high altitude boots and stuck it out with my durable Asolo Fugitive GTX Trekking boots. In the end it turned out to be a pretty good decisions, as my feet were fine when we reached High Camp and I didn’t have any blisters (an affliction that effected most of my teammates, unfortunately).

Heading out of Base Camp with my 26kg pack.
The snow was very wet and we kept slipping deep into it, especially as it got deeper closer to High Camp. This was a big frustration, but most of us made it up without too much trouble. Unfortunately, one member of our team—Ranjan—decided he wasn’t cut out for it and returned to Base Camp. He won’t continue up the mountain with us and will return to Kislovodsk tomorrow. I give him a lot of credit for sticking it out as long as he did, though, especially since his home in Southern India is vastly different climate wise from the slopes of Mt. Elbrus.

Eeee! Bad weather alert! Gotta grab some layers...

The weather had improved significantly by the time we made it back to Base Camp. After today’s long day, we are all in the mood for a long night of sleep. Then we repeat today’s track tomorrow, albeit with much less gear.

One last thing... I really do have to say that I was nervous for today. When you’re training for mountain climbing not on a mountain, you never know what will apply and what won’t. At home, I do a lot of walking on the treadmill (with it inclined to the max) with a heavy pack on. I hoped this would prepare me for days like this, but I wasn’t sure it was until today. I’m glad I did well because this validates my training regimen and is an encouraging sign for my upcoming Denali expedition. 

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