By Steve Knaze, October 15, 2007
The collective members of Climbers for Peace from the USA and Ukraine, along with new members from Austria, Spain, Sweden and Germany, joined together once again on July 21 at the base of Mt. Djan Tugun, Kabaldino-Balkaria Republic, Russian Federation in an attempt to climb Mt. Elbrus the tallest mountain in Europe. Over 10 years has passed since their 1st expedition there, in what was then considered a once in a lifetime adventure. Djan Tugan is a beautiful pointed peak in the Adil Su valley in the Caucasus. Arriving by plane and train, we met in Mineralniye Vody and were all happy to be there once again. From there our transport of choice was a pre-rented bus that took us to Uchag Priut or Uchag Shelter where we met our host Achija Sottaev whose family has leased this land for generations. After viewing our primitive condition we settled in to plan our attack of the mountain. Luckily, our Ukrainian partners have extended experience in this region and a program was already set in place before our arrival. We had 4 or 5 acclimatization hikes to various beautiful regions on the mountain where many picturesque photo opportunities arose. The stage was then set for the final summit bid but the weather was not co-operating to our expectations. It was decided to give it our best shot as the weather was set to take a turn for the worse. Most of the team participants went up to the Bochka's which is at he top of the ski lifts and one must proceed on foot from there. The serious climbers were set for a summit bid but unfortunately the weather dictates what happens on many a mountain and all will forced or recommended to turn back. After returning to base camp there was a feeling of disappointment as many of us had hoped for the top of Elbrus especially after most were turned back by weather 10 years ago. We quickly got over our feelings as we had a marvelous program ahead of us in the oldest parts of Balkaria near the Georgian border. As the rest of us departed for our new adventure, Max Dumbrosky thought it unfair he not get that precious second chance at the summit and stayed behind with Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine climbing veteran Valeri Proskura as his guide. As we ate freshly killed lamb bar-b-que in Balkaria we learned of their success at conquering Elbrus. The participants who arrived to Russia by train were to depart before the total adventure was over but al in all the time together was magical. It was suggested that Climbers for Peace VII be in Astoria, Spain in 2008 hosted by our new Spanish brothers.