2004 Elbrus Cybercast
August 4, 2004. The Barrels.
Hey there friends family and sports fans. We're staying here at 13,143 feet above sea level at the huts and half of us are going down and the other half of us are drying out, we're thinking about giving it another shot tonight. About midnight we're going to get up and eat breakfast and head on up. The weather is still unstable, but it looks better than the other day when we got it handed to us on a silver platter, so we're going to get ready to give it another shot. So please keep us in your prayers and your thoughts, we're going to be cold tonight, but at the same time we're going to hope that the wind doesn't get too high and start snowing. Cheers, I'm going to get some hot drinks and hot showers like the other guys, right now duty calls that's why we're here, give us your best. Ciao for now.
August 3, 2004. The Barrels.
Hello here cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with Team Dancing Dozen. What a day what a day. The weather was marginally all day, we had lots of wind lots of spindrift. We got up quite early this morning, took the cat up to Pashtukov Rocks, where we actually started our climb. We ended up with lots of thunder and lightning, obviously a big system has come in and we pushed up as far as we could get, we got within 384 feet of the summit when 50 knot winds took over and pushed the spindrift up, we had whiteout conditions, into every little hole in our jackets and coats, goggles, anything, got packed with snow. We spent the better part of this afternoon trying to get down intact. Good thing we had a GPS because it was able to lead us right back.
All the Russian guides were great, they picked up extra weight, traded people's packs, helped everyone down, we ended up getting back here at about 3:00 in the afternoon, just totally whipped. Fortunately our Russian cook Tatiana, she had a great borscht soup made for us, we just loaded up on that. It was quite a day, I can't tell you that fun was had by all, but it was certainly one of the most interesting climbs ever. Out of 9 times that I've been on this mountain, this was definitely the biggest weather day I've seen up here. It was touch and go there for quite a while, but we're all back and safely ensconced in nice hot little huts and drying out, we've got clothes hanging everywhere and everybody it reminiscing about how much fun they had during the day. Thanks you for your best wishes, we're probably going to be heading down tomorrow, everybody is pretty whipped right now. Ciao for now, thanks for staying tuned, we'll give you an update tomorrow.
August 2, 2004. The Barrels.
Hello there friends family, this is Vern Tejas with the Dancing Dozen, high on the flanks of Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Europe. We're currently ensconced at 13,143 feet above sea level, in what we call 'the cabins'. Today was a great day for acclimatization, we went out and explored the local terrain. We kept it a short day so we could prepare for our summit bid. Most of us did a little napping and just light exercise. People are really psyched to be heading up, so we're getting stoked. The weather is changing, we've got high stratus clouds and it looks like wind coming out of the west, so keep your fingers crossed and we certainly appreciate your best wishes and prayers, we're getting ready for an early start at about 2:30 in the morning and hopefully be out of here at 4:00 and give it our best shot. Ciao for now.
August 1, 2004. The Barrels.
(poor transmission for first half of call) ...we were safely ensconced in a little cabin up there. We climbed up to 15,000 feet at Pashtukov Rocks and then put on our plastic bags and slid down some very wet snow on our rear ends for the most part, that is is we remembered to bring our wind pants of course. Bill is giggling in the background because he is the one who wore shorts all the way up and all the way down. He's the only one who is dry in the bunch as well. So we are drying out and looking forward to a sunny day where we can rest and recuperate and take an early nap so we can get up quite early the following morning. So please stay tuned for the adventures of the Dancing Dozen, ciao for now.
July 31, 2004. The Barrels.
Hello there cybernauts this is Vern Tejas and the dancing dozen. We're up here on the flanks of Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. We're looking up and can see both the East and the West summit. Clear over the mountain, however we have clouds in the valley, so we're looking down on a fog bank below us and we can see the tops of mountains sticking out in the Caucuses and way over in Georgia.
The team is doing fine and we are now located at 11,414.2 feet above sea level precisely. It's not as high as we wanted to get but at least we are indoors tonight, a huge amount of people came up onto the mountain the last couple of days and we're just trying to make sure we are in and out of the rain. There was a little bit of rain a while ago along with sleet hail and some grapple. Kind of one of those dramatic things that happens when you get the oxygen storms, but currently looking up at blue skies.
The team is doing well, everybody is psyched, great team spirit, we are bonding and coming up with enough jokes that we are not tired of them yet. Stay tuned and tomorrow we'll actually take another acclimatization hike up to Pashtukov Rocks. Today we just went to the Pruitt Hut at about 13,000, but tomorrow we're going to move up to the Hut and acclimatize up to 15,000 feet. So please check in on us and see how it went. Ciao for now.
July 30, 2004. Baksan Valley.
Hello friends and family. This is the Dancing Dozen reporting from the Baksan valley of Russia's dramatic Caucasus mountains. It was a day of scenic wonder and acclimatization. Our outing took us through the little village of Terskol and up the lower flanks of Mt Elbrus itself. We gained altitude by following a rustic road and then up a rocky ridge. The extremely clear weather us allowed us views all the way into nearby Georgia. Totally spectacular.
On our way down from our 10,143ft. high point we were able to view several domed celestial observatories that are here to take advantage of the clear mountain air. It was a great day and fun was had by all. The team looks to be a strong one and appears ready for an adventure. Stay tuned when tomorrow we move to camp one.
Ciao for now,
Vern Tejas and Team
July 29, 2004. Terskol Valley.
Hello cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with Team Dancing Dozen, we're located high in the Caucasus' in the Terskol Valley. We're staying in a wonderful hotel and we had a beautiful day today, we took a hike up Cheget, and looked across and could actually see all of our route, it was just fabulous, it lasted for about two hours and then the clouds came in, and it was a wonderful afternoon until it started raining. And then all the sky broke loose, fell down and here we are, now the stars are out.
It's been a full day, everyone had a good acclimatization hike, we went up to about 11,000 feet and were able to look just across the valley at our route. We've got a few hot spots, but no major blisters, everybody is pleased with that and the team is in good spirits and doing fine. So please stick with us, tomorrow we are planning on doing an acclimatization hike on the other side of the Valley on a trip to the Soviet Observatory at the top of Terskol. An exciting day so stay tuned and we'll talk to you later from 7,143 feet above sea level.
July 28, 2004. Terskol.
Hello there friends and family, this is the Dancing Dozen in the Caucasus'. Vern Tejas reporting for the team. We are in Russia, in the very Southern end now instead of the very Northern end. We've flown from St. Petersburg after having a wonderful day at the summer palace, which is reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles in France. After seeing all the gold and beautifully laid out gardens and water fountains, we jumped on a plane and flew south to Mineral Vody and that went quite smoothly. Everybody made all the connections and all the bags made it as well and jumped on a bus and drove for three hours further south until right on the border of Georgia. We are as far south as we can go in Russia and we're in the the town of Terskol in the Baksan River Valley.
We're in good spirits, we just had dinner and looking forward to going to sleep and sleeping in a little bit so we are rested for our acclimatization which our first hike starts tomorrow. So we're now at 7,143 feet above sea level, all members are doing well, we're in good spirits and we're looking forward to starting our climb by acclimatizing on the other side of the valley from the mountain in the morning, so stay tuned and we will keep you abreast of any developing situations, ciao for now, sweet dreams.
July 27, 2004. St. Petersburg.
Hello there cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with Team Dancing Dozen. We had a great day touring St. Petersburg. We visited the Hermitage, and the St. Isaac's Cathedral and even saw the old Aurora, where the first shot of the revolution was fired. And now after a big meal and doing a little Russian folk dancing, we're all getting ready to head for bed because tomorrow we travel all the way across Russia, down to the Caucasus'. So just wanted you to know that we are all here and are all having a great time and even Phil is going to be excited when his bags finally catch up to him. So stay tuned and we'll tell you what's happening in the Caucasus'. Ciao for now.
July 21, 2004. The Barrels.
Hello there friends and family,
Team Vershina reporting from the base of Mt. Elbrus. We had a great sleep in this morning with all members waking refreshed and ready to descend to the land of soft beds and hot showers. The way down was beautiful with the whole Caucasus Range spreading out below us. And other than Spunky's pack falling off the chair lift to the rocks underneath it went quite smoothly.
Our nice new Hotel Povorot had tons of hot water ready for us when we arrived....I think we must have used it all as we shed a weeks worth of grime. Our appetites are coming back with a vengeance and we are making a dent in the beer supply. All are well and happy and savoring our good fortune. The team, Professor, Slick, Snow Punkin, Goat, Soupy, Fossil, Mayor, Vegematic, Spunky, Smiley, Strider, Lucky and yours truly Jimi Ray Vaughn all thank you for following our progress. We appreciate your prayers and best wishes. Thank You so much.
Jimi and Team
July 20, 2004. The Barrels.
(poor reception made some of the call unintelligible) Hello there friends family and loved ones, this is Vern Tejas back at camp fresh from our summit. It was a beautiful day, clears skies and lots of great views of the Caucasus. All team members made it to the top and are now happily ensconced in their beds. We are anticipating a beautiful day tomorrow for our descent and barbeque. Thanks very much for tuning in, just know that all is well and everybody is happy here at the barrels at about 12,143 feet above sea level, a wonderful place. All of the snow if evaporating and we are able to walk around a bit. Ciao for now.
July 20, 2004. Summit.
Hello there cybernauts, friends family and loved ones, this is Team Vershina and guess where we are? We're at the Vershina! Yes we are at the very tip top, the team is up here and we are elated. We've got sunny weather, it's a little breezy, but it keeps the mosquitoes down. Everybody is standing around popping photos and giving high fives all the way around. We are now located at 18,414.3 feet above sea level and we're digging it. Thanks for all of your prayers and all of your good wishes, they seem to have come true. Team Vershina on top of Europe, whoohoooo!! Ciao for now.
July 19, 2004. 13,000 feet.
Hey there friends family and loved ones, this is Vern Tejas with Team Vershina. Thanks you very much for your thoughts and your prayers, it looks like wishes have now come true, the weather has mellowed out, the thunderstorms have stopped, we have some clouds floating around, but the mountain is now visible to us for the first time in a week, so we are excited about this evening coming up, maybe clearing off entirely, getting some stars and maybe even the moon will come out. We are going to take off quite early tomorrow, getting up at about 1am and eating breakfast at 2 and with any luck we will start out at 3:00 in the morning, take the Cat up to Pashtukov Rocks which we climbed to the other day and with any luck we will be able to do it as a team all the way to the summit. The Vershina, the summit.
Today we spent the better part of it just lounging around, we did take a bit of a hike down through some crevasses on the glacier, near our camp, I think everybody enjoyed it, everybody was concerned that they might overdo it, and be too tired for tonight, but I think that they are all in good shape. Spirits are running high and we are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather, so you do the same and stay tuned for tomorrow's cybercast, hopefully we'll be on the summit by then, ciao for now, 143.
July 18, 2004. The Barrels.
Hello friends family and loved ones, this is Team Vershina, high on the flanks of Mount Elbrus. Today we took the mighty hike up to Pashtukov Rocks, about a 3,000 foot gain, in whiteout conditions, wind blowing nearly 40-50 mph! Holy smoke, we recorded a wind chill down to 20 below. Barely surviving it, however we all came back with all of our fingers and our good characters intact. Came down here and had a wonderful wonderful chicken dinner and are prepping for tomorrow's actual jump up to high camp, up at 13,000 feet. So please join us for tomorrow's jump up there.
Just want to introduce some of our characters, we're talking about The Professor, Soupy, Snow Pumpkin, Goat, Slick, Fossil, Mayor, Vegematic, Spunky, Smiley, Strider, Wacky and yours truly, Stevie Ray Vaughan. So we just basically want to tell you that everyone is feeling good, getting psyched up, are acclimatizing well, we just need a little bit of help with this weather, so please keep us in your prayers and be thinking about it blowing some of these clouds out of here and getting out of these lightning storm, we have had consistent poor weather ever since we got to the valley, and we are hoping that it is going to wind itself up here in the next couple of days so we actually have a good shot at the summit. So keep your finger crossed and join us tomorrow from the highest flanks on the highest peak in Europe, ciao for now.
July 17, 2004. The Barrels.
Hello there cybernauts, friends and family, this is Vern Tejas with Alpine Ascents and Team Vershina, up on the side of Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. Today we were able to move up off of the Valley floor, all of the food and equipment to what we call Camp I or the Barrels. The Barrels are actually large fuel drums that have been turned on their sides and turned into trailers. Very nicely adjoined with six beds and enough room that we can spread out a little bit. We plan on being here for a couple of days, which is fortunate because the weather is very unsettled right now, we have a huge lightning storm coming in from the southeast, which should be interesting, hopefully I won't get hit while I am out here in the lightning.
Just want to mention that we are at about 12,143 feet above sea level, so we can all feel the altitude, but it seems to be that the people are adapting well. We are going through the process of giving each other nicknames. I have been dubbed Hendrix because of my aspirations to want to play the guitar like a fellow by that name. Everyone else is coming through with their own names so maybe tomorrow after the thunderstorms we can share those with you. Big plan for tomorrow is to go up to Pashtukov Rocks, which is about 3,000 feet higher and do an acclimatization hike. Just similar to the acclimatization hike we did today after we got to the Barrels, we went up about 1,000 feet just to stretch ourselves and now we are recuperating. So stand by and stick with us, we are coming back for more. Ciao for now, 143.
July 16, 2004. Baksan Valley.
Hello friends and family, Team Vershina reporting from Russia. Today was dedicated to acclimatizing in the beautiful Baksan Valley. We left early to trek to a nearby celestial observatory which resides on a low shoulder of Mt. Elbruz. At 10,500 ft it's 3,500 ft above the valley floor, which makes for an all day outing. Though clouds threatened us with rain, it turned out to be a great day.
We returned pleasantly tired yet satisfied. We are adapting to our new surroundings, and are hoping to move to our camp I tomorrow. We are packed and going to bed early in anticipation. Wish us well.
Ciao for now, Vern Tejas and Team
July 15, 2004. Baksan Valley. Russia.
Hello Friends and Family, this is Vern Tejas reporting for Team Vershina in Russia. Today, we were up with the sun to enjoy our sumptuous breakfast. We packed bagged lunches into our rucksacks and caught an early morning chair at the local lift. That took us above the treeline and into the flower zone around 9,000ft. Colorful flowers lined our path as we scrambeled up 11,000ft where we had our lunch overlooking the scenic Baksan valley. Along the way we had time for several mini-seminars covering pace and positive pressure breathing.
Our team is bonding well despite an occasional errant snowball fight. All seem to acclimatizing as well. On the way down several of us decided try our luck at standing glissading down a nearby snow field. Yes, we got wet but we got down fast. The views were beautiful and the descent quite thrilling. A good time was had by all.
To The Top,
Vern and Team 143
July 14, 2004. Cheget. Russia.
Hello cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with Alpine Ascents. The team had a wonderful day today. We went to the edge of St. Petersburg and visited the summer palace. This is a place of beautiful gardens, gold splashing fountains and it was a real treat to get out of the city and just relax in the royal splendor of the palace. From there we proceeded on to the airport and caught a flight all the way down to Mineral Vody, which is the jump off town for heading up to the Baksan Valley. The Baksan Valley lead us into the Caucasus' and proceeded up the Baksan River to the small village of Cheget. Cheget is a ski resort area and we just moved into a very nice, brand new hotel and had an excellent dinner and everybody is feeling good to be here. We are here at about 7,000ft above sea level so we are starting our acclimatization process and the team is in great spirits. Again, thank you for joining us and stay tuned for the Vershina acclimatization and attempt on the highest mountain in Europe. Ciao for now.
July 13, 2004. Evening. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Hello there cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with Alpine Ascents Team Vershina and we are here in St. Petersburg, Russia in preparation for our attempt to climb Mt. Elbruz, the highest pint in all of Europe. "Vershina" is the Russian word for "Summit" and that's where we would like to go, to the top of Europe.
We spent our day visiting the cultural highlights of this very cultural city. Majestic cathedrals and a historic gunship started our morning right. We stopped just long enough to ejjoy some traditional cuisine and then we were off to the largest art museum in Russia, The Hermitage. This has got to be one of the cultural gems of the world.
The team looks to be a strong one that is well prepared for what is to come. We checked out our gear and went through our game plan. We then dined on local specialties while listening to dueling balalaikas. Then off to bed for an early start tomorrow as we cross to the southern side of this country in quest of our mountain.
Please join us for the next two weeks as we try to climb to the top of this continent. Ciao for now, Vern. 143
July 13, 2004. St. Petersburg, Russia.
The entire team has safely arrived into St. Petersburg. Today they are on a cultural tour of the city. We should be getting cybercasts from them soon. Thank you for tuning in.
The Alpine Ascents Office.