May 01, 2013

The Lure of Elbrus

The Lure of Elbrus
Yuri Tuchkov,

It’s an enticing idea: conquer Europe’s highest peak.

Gazing from a distance at Mount Elbrus’ two white peaks, one might be tempted to think, “How hard could that be?” After all, it’s only 5642 meters (18,510 feet), and a rail car can take you up to the base camp at 3800 meters. Surely the panoramic view of the Caucasus from the summit – stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian – would be worth it.

But beware: Elbrus, a dormant volcano, is a devious mountain. And it should be noted, at the risk of stating the obvious, that all the stories told about scaling this impressive mountain are told by those who lived to tell the tale. Others did not and have their names engraved on memorial stones that glint in the sun along the path from Mir waystation to Mount Pastukhov.

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