Saturday, June 30, 2007

Juho's Summit bid, last message

30-06-07 17:51 (over the phone)
I'm back at the Pastukhov Rocks. Everything is okay except I think I have lost my phone. Anyway, I will try to ski back to my tent and get some sleep there.

Juho's Summit bid, message #4

30-06-07 14:45 (over the phone)
I have just reached the summit. The weather is extremely bad, very cold and windy with icy snow. To save energy for safe return I need to start my decenting very soon. I will inform you on way down when I have crossed the saddle and GSM works again.

Juho's Summit bid, message #3

30-06-07 10:29 (over the phone)
I'm currently about an hour's walk from the saddle. Weather is nasty but bearable. I estimate that the summit can be reached from there in 3 - 4 hours. GSM phones do not work in the saddle so if needed I will call you using the satellite phone.

Juho's Summit bid, message #2

30-06-07 8:40
I'm at the Pastukhov Rocks now. Feeling strong but the weather is bad. 100m visibility, snow and wind. On down gear now. Will probably leave skies here as it is steep and icy. Pushing forward.

Juho's Summit bid, message #1

30-06-07 7:24
Made it to the tent above Diesel Hut at 1930hrs. I started my summit bid at 0644hrs. Weather is cloudy and foggy. I will update my status every couple of hours.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Had the best sleep since arriving to Caucasus. Good feeling after a night well slept. Light wind and hail early in the night but crystal after midnight with no wind and almost full moon. Would have been nigh perfect weather for the summit bid.

Tent and sleeping bag worked like a charm under these easy conditions. Gonna set the camp just above Diesel Hut today and wait for the break. The rest of the group are leaning towards staying low and taking the snow cat 4 a.m. to 4500m on the summit night.

Secret late night report from Jukka

Everybody else is already sleeping, I still have some energy left, so why not a small bedtime story.
We are currently situated at 3700m above the sea level in Elbrus' first base camp called Barrels Huts. Our choise for accomondation tonight are these funny-looking tubes in russian colours tailored for sleeping quarters. Story goes that these pipes originate from Siperia and are a residual of old russian oil pipe lines.
Although the view from the window is breath-taking, you should consider twice before checking in your girlfriend here for a romantic night in a canddle light (canddle since naturally there is no electricity).
Challenge uno: if she would happen to need to go to a toilet, there is an old 1,5 litres Fanta bottle hanging on the outer door implying that it should be done there.
Challenge due: previous visitor, or her girlfriend, has evidently tried to do it i.e. hit it but missed it quite badly. So you really don't want to go near this alternative.
There is of course a public toilet nearby as an alternative. Directions: go about 100m downhill, turn left, take a deep breathe before entering (actually take it at least 20m before you even see the toilet building) and try to hit the hole in the floor. Keep the toilet paper on your knee, try not to touch the floor during the process and voila! enjoy the summer.
There might of course be some color pen, exaggeration, in above report, but for me this all is new. Okey, tomorrow I will tell you about Minna's cookings, now there is a tasteful story. Till then sweet dreams.
p.s. we try to put some photos on the site soon

Day 4

Finally some clouds! Not much though and still no wind. We moved up to Barrels Huts and while I aimed for Pastukhov Rocks (4700m) the rest went up to Diesel Hut. I started too late and turned back a couple of hundred meters shy of the Rocks as clouds moved in.

Skiing downhill was ok but slushy and some icy bits. Fell once but not too bad and it was a good heads up for me. It will be serious business in the coming days as the weather seems to deteriorate as well. Right now there's some thunder up in the mountain and some showers. I'm camping but the others are staying in one of the barrels.

Today up and down 622m on fairly short time of 2h 46min. Tomorrow we plan on moving up to Diesel Hut and maybe I will reach Pastukhov Rocks after that. Much will depend on the weather and how this night will go. Everybody is ok but most are experiencing more or less headache. Minna and Jukka are contemplating on taking a ski ride up to 4500m on the summit day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day 3

On the third day the weather was, if possible, even better than yesterday. While the rest of the group was renting gear I went up with two gondola (10 € return) and one chair (5 € return) up to Barrels Huts (3700m) and skinned up to Diesel Hut (4050m). Almost no wind, unlimited visibility and shorts and t-shirt were more than enough.

I have made some adjustments to the ascent plan based on discussions with people coming down from the mountain. Tomorrow we will sleep at Barrels from where we will move as soon as possible to Diesel Hut. It seems to be the best place where Minna, Jussi and Jukka will eventually make the summit bid from. Tomorrow and the following night will give good indication how acclimatization is proceeding.

I will probably try to camp both at Pastukhov Rocks and at the Saddle later and hopefully will get good runs in most areas of the mountain. Today my skis proved out to be exactly as I expected - fast and easy on ascent but shaky on the descent. The total ascent on this easy day was 351m and descent 588m (down to the second condola). With long breaks the touring lasted 3h 21min. Tomorrow the plan is to the camp at Barrels and hike up to Pastukhov Rocks and ski back down.

Few flashbacks from Jukka

Few words could be in order for those of you that do not know me and where I know Juho. We've known since high school, but back then he was quite well-behaving boy with body like Anna-Mari Sandell. As most of you know, last few years he has travelled around a lot, been there and done that, but most importantly gathered a lot of experience about mountaineering and of course muscle&stamina. So it did not take me long to accept his invitation to come here and experience this first hand.
Okay, then some flashbacks about today. After being detaining from alcoholic substances for two days (midsummer we spend in Pärnu in Estonia was quite an experience to say the least), I felt much better this morning and more ready to rock this majestic rock called Mt. Elbrus.
Wheather outside was beautiful and breakfast tasted like breakfast again. Next thing to do was to head out with Jussi and Minna to rental shops to get some gears for days to come. Meanwhile Juho headed for Elbrus base camp to check the place and make some enquiries about accomondation there.
Renting equipment turned out not to be any picnic. Nobody was speaking english and our understanding about russian is as much as a pig might understand about satellelites. Thanks to Victoria - our nice but very beautiful interpreter back in Finland - we managed to rent a set of highly necesseary gears: ice axes and crampons. We missed a lot of time in the shops and just managed to meet Juho at the base camp before heading down to the village for the last time before the summit attempt.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 2

Everybody managed to summit Cheget Peak (3481m) today in near perfect weather. Minna and Jussi experienced slight headache during the summit push and everybody felt the descent in their knees. All of this was, however, expected and the acclimatization proceeds slightly ahead of scedule. The total ascent today was 1473m, descent 1728m and the duration of the hike (including breaks) 9h 25min.

Tomorrow we will carry out a recce to Barrels Huts and beyond to find a suitable hut to be the base camp for the summit attempt in a few days. I hope to get some decent rides down with my randonnee gear despite some large patches of ice that were visible from Cheget Peak today.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Day 1

Arrived at Azau early evening. Two hours acclimatization walk at dusk up to 2800m (500 vertical metres up from the village) after dinner. Cloudy all evening. Breakfast tomorrow at 0800hrs.

Final preparations for the expedition took place in Finland and Estonia. Minna and Jussi practised riot control in Rauma with Russians on vodka in mind. Jukka and Juho had a crash acclimatisation course in Pärnu while extremely low on oxygen. Despite some minor setbacks on the way everybody is now in Caucasus on the way from Mineralnye Vody to Azau village at the foot of Elbrus. Everybody is in perfect health and looking forward to Cheget Peak tomorrow.