Ascent of Elbrus on 2012-08-15

Climber: Alexandra Marcu

Others in Party:Dan Marcu
Date:Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:18510 ft / 5641 m

Ascent Trip Report

As soon as the ratrack set off with 9 climbers sitting on its benches, it began snowing. And then the wind and then, 10 minutes later we were back again in the middle of a heavy snowstorm. Once again the feeling of unreality settles down on me as I look at my companions and all of the equipment laying on the ratrack floor, with the wind howling and swirling snowflakes at us. Soon we reach the point where we have to step down and where we meet the other international group, led by a guide, that was waiting for our English friends. The guide summons us all to stay there and wait till she gets the clearance from base camp to proceed uphill. We waited there while the tension was building up in me again. What if my partners do not want to continue on? What am I to do? Should we go back or attack by ourselves?
Finally the other Romanian climbers decide to start walking. Thank you, God. The snowstorm was increasing in fury around us.

The fog was getting thicker by the minute. We reach the saddle, and push forward.

We have to take turns in leading the group because the snow gathered up due to the storm and we have to thread our way now in knee deep snow. Every time the other climbers stop, them being a separate team from us, I shiver with fear they will abandon and pull back. But they keep going. We draw closer. An hour goes by. And all of a sudden I am told by one of the guys that he is going back together with his girl friend. This is it, I said to myself, the group is breaking and the other ones will go back too. And we are so close, so Close.

But no, they keep going. Two hours go by and by now I start having the conviction that we will make it.

Dad begins shouting as a mad caveman, in the storm and fog so that I could hear him: “Come on, baby. You can do it. Come on.” While tears stream down his cheeks. Finally we get there. I want to take the picture but the batteries are frozen up and my friends pull back already. I shout at them: “I need to take the picture.” No way, they are going downhill. Now what a heck I am going to do? Stay here to take the photo and be left alone with dad in the middle of a severe snowstorm at 5600m on top of Elbrus or join them and ask them to testify we made it. I shout again at them to stop but clearly they do not want to. They made it, and their girl is exhausted. I have to understand them. So be it. Anyway I could not take a picture of a whiteout. And my GPS can also testify we summited. So let’s go back.

So, this is actually what I went through on Elbrus. It took me days to recover. I was completely exhausted. Not physically, emotionally exhausted. No other mountain ever tried me so hard and the complex of emotions that I have felt effectively emptied me out. It took 2 days, a lot of vodka and a lot of Polish friends to put me back on tracks.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6371 ft / 1941 m
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6371 ft / 1941 m
    Start Trailhead:Barrels Huts  12139 ft / 3699 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Elbrus Ascent

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Elbrus2012-08-156371 ft / 1942 m
Total Trip Gain: 6371 ft / 1942 m

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