first time we (Nickolay Ustinov and I) undertook our Elbrus adventure was
at the end of September 1983. Our group was going to make the technical
route through the passes of Mt. Elbrus area. We planned to finish that
route with the ascent onto Mt. Elbrus (18508’/5642m)
itself, but the broken leg of our leader ruined our plans... as a result
we decided to go in tandem. Technically we were well prepared to do that,
but it was the first time we saw this mountain.
We reached Refuge of Eleven (13778'/4200m), but the hurricane wind didn't allow us to continue at midnight, as it is common for the Elbrus ascents. I never saw such a horrible wind again. It was impossible even to step away from the refuge. As a result we started our attempt next day at 11 am. At around 4:30 PM we reached the point on the East Summit just above the Elbrus pass (saddle) (17386'/5300 m). The visibility, because of the strong fog, was so bad we hardly even realized we already passed Saddle. We couldn't do anything but to go down ASAP, if we didn't want to be caught by the dark.
Unfortunately, we lost our way down, went too far to the left and spent the night in a crevasse at the altitude of 16074'/4900m. We had no tent, no sleeping bags, and no food at all. It became pretty cold, but we managed to dig the small cave inside of that snow-filled crevasse (bergschrund). I remember as each movement was echoed by the severe headache.
The next morning we started to descend and all of a sudden I noticed the distinguishing figure “7” on the opposite slope, recognized it as Mt. Donguz-Orun, and understood we should turn right. By then we went so far to the left, we were pretty close to the crater and Acherkyakol lava flow. We were blocked by the Terskol icefall from the below, the «snow slabs» whooped under our feet, threaten us with possible avalanche. Then my partner fell to the hidden crevasse. I caught him and he managed to climb out of the crevasse, but I was really scared
by 4 o'clock we traversed the glaciers of Elbrus to so called ”Ice Base”
and descended to Terskol Village at night.
Last updated 17 November, 1999