Russians like to drive very fast, especially on open roads. Our drive from the airport at MineralInye Vody airport to Kislovodsk town was not exactly a joy ride. We were in two vehicles and the two drivers (obviously on retirement for some time now) were pretty much racing against each other. And so a couple of near-misses on barrier lines later and in pouring rain we arrived safely in town!
When we did the long off-road ride to base camp on the 4X4 the next day we were pretty much used to rough rides. Besides, the snow-covered twin peaks of Mount Elbrus and the views of the surrounding mountain were providing some needed distraction. I would have loved to ride in the formidable, “Old Russia”, never-die, hard as rock machine, but watching it in action from a bit of distance was not a bad compromise. The guys in the team got the honours.
We did not waste time. We arrived at base camp, had lunch and packed our day packs for the first acclamatisation hike. It was pleasant and not too long – on fresh pair of leg the 300m we ascended did not feel like we did any climbing. Over the next two days, acclamatisation hikes from base camp (2500m) became harder, led us to the most amazing terrain and took us to through some of the most challenging trails I have ever been on.