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Waffling on Elbrus Race 2014

July 31st, 2014 | Posted by Charles Miske in Europe - (Comments Off)

Elbrus Race 2014 is being held the week of September 6-13, according to the itinerary posted below and HERE.

IX international (2014) Elbrus Race program :

Date Days Day’s program
06.09.2014 day 01 Flight arrival to Min Vody. Transfer to Baksan Valley, Azau station. Accommodation in the Hotel Elba.
07.09.2014 day 02 Acclimatization walking nearby. Accommodation in the Hotel Elba.
08.09.2014 day 03 Transfer to Azau lift station. The opening of the competition. Going up to refuge “Barrels” ~3710m. Night at refuge “Barrels”
09.09.2014 day04 Qualifying speed climb from Barrels hut to the Pastukov rocks, 4800 m.
10.09.2014 day 05
(full moon at 15:00 pm)
Relax day. Night at the refuge “Barrels”
11.09.2014 day 06 Speed Climb of Mt. Elbrus West 5642 m. “Classic” from hut Barrels (3710) & “Extreme” from Azau 2400m Descent from Barrels to the Valley
12.09.2014 day 07 spare day for the Race or Awards Ceremony at the morning & The farewell party at the evening
13.09.2014 day 08 Transfer to airport. Flight from Min Vody..

I was forming a team of 3 to go DETAILS but over the past year since the 2013 Race a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Some of us were really sick for quite some time. Some of us had endured injuries. Some of us had endured financial hardship. I myself was involved in legal finagling to extricate myself from a series of business partnerships and investments. That took up a great deal of stress and in spite of any other factors contributed greatly to a deficit in training hours.

In other words, I wasn’t able to train the way I had for the 2013 Race, in which I took 5th place. Sadly though, since it wasn’t all the way to the summit due to weather I wasn’t able to achieve my Seven Summits Quest goal with Elbrus, the highest mountain and highest volcano in Europe. After a lot of deliberation I sent an email to my friend in Russia asking if there were a trip in August that I could attach myself to so that I could share expenses at the Barrels (cook/food) and he sent an itinerary for me that seemed to fit in with my own plans so I agreed and sent the deposit. I received the Invitation and Voucher and not coincidentally I happened to be in Seattle where I could go in person to the Visa Center.

Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013

Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013

At the Center I was informed that a technicality in the requirements for available Visa Pages in my Passport prevented my application from being processed. Thankfully it was not rejected, which would unnecessarily complicate future applications. I needed to get additional pages inserted into my Passport, which isn’t a very complicated process, but can take up to 6 weeks plus additional time for shipping back and forth both ways. They recommended Overnight mail, but in this county there really isn’t such a thing. Long complicated story. USPS won’t even deliver to most of the resort units even to full time residents.

STP - 13 year old rode with Puget Sound Mini 200 + miles

STP – 13 year old rode with Puget Sound Mini 200 + miles

In the middle of that process of course, I spent a week traveling to Utah and Seattle to drop off my 13 year old who would be riding in the Seattle to Portland 200+ mile cycling ride with his uncle. Immediately after returning home to Colorado I spent a week at the Boy Scout camp near Castle Rock Colorado as the Assistant Scoutmaster for my Frisco CO Boy Scouts. It rained a lot, and I was really happy that my son and I had done a lot of camping in a variety of conditions so that at least one of the boys had good morale during the week. Seriously though, it was great fun to help the boys earn a slew of merit badges, including the Wilderness Survival, which required them to spend a night out in a low impact shelter built on the spot.

BSA camp activity - dueling on the ropes near Castle Rock CO

BSA camp activity – dueling on the ropes near Castle Rock CO

To make things even more fun I had a house listed in Utah and it expired without being sold so am in the middle of dealing with the legal implications and handling the repairs necessary to list it again in a different price bracket so that we can appeal to a different market. That’s going to require several trips to Utah over the next month added to the other fun things I need to do. Full plate!

Of course, all of this wasn’t enough time for the whole 6+ weeks to pass. Once I do have my passport in hand it takes a minimum of 30 days to process a Visa Application to Russia by mail (for those centers that accept mail). Going in person is an option that cuts the time down to a week to 10 days depending on the Visa you’re applying for. In any case, as it is, I am getting close to the deadline necessary to go to the 2014 Race. The 30 day window closes in a few days. The 10 day window closes in a couple weeks. I am hoping that my Passport arrives quickly and that all goes well. In the past couple months of training I’ve achieved quite a few PR (PB) and top-3 personal records for some of the Strava segments I’ve run on. I even got a Male KOM (ascent speed best) for a segment on Rainier up to Pebble Creek. And I was “walking” it with a heart rate of 100. That inspired me that maybe I could go back to Elbrus Race and make a decent attempt. On the other hand, going up with the Photographers to the summit to await the champions (possibly with another attempt by Kilian) sounds enticing as well. Not sure yet. Still have to get that Passport back in enough time for the rest of the process.

I’m not telling you all of this so that you can pity me, or so that I can excuse myself. Rather I tell you all of this so that you can understand that I am working hard to overcome all the difficulties that the world is tossing at me seemingly to prevent my success. I fully believe that you are able to overcome your own difficulties even when it seems there is no way to do so.

The Qualifier in whiteout conditions for Elbrus Race 2013

The Qualifier in whiteout conditions for Elbrus Race 2013

I really want to go to Russia this year and get this one done!

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Orizaba Mountain Clothing for Upper Body

April 7th, 2013 | Posted by Charles Miske in Gear | North America - (Comments Off)

When Todd and I climbed Orizaba on May 5 2013 it was a pretty warm day with very good conditions. The mountain clothing we were able to wear that day probably won’t reflect average conditions.

Mountain Clothing for Orizaba highest mountain in Mexico

Todd and I on the Summit of Orizaba at 18,500′ highest mountain in Mexico

Previously I discussed the mountain clothing I wore on my lower body during our summit attempt. This time I will focus on my upper body. It was very warm, and we were only planning to do an acclimatization hike. We didn’t have a lot of warmer clothing that we would normally take. Usually you start a summit attempt at 1:00 AM when it’s much colder. This of course meant we had lighter packs.

upper body mountain clothing base layers

Layers put on at the beginning of our hike

Upper Body Mountain Clothing

I began with a Nike tech short sleeve shirt from a half marathon I ran in American Fork Utah. Over this I wore a Patagonia R1 Hoodie. The way it fits is almost like a medium weight base layer but the waffle pattern lets it breathe very well. I started out with a Buff around my neck in case it gets cold or windy. I wore a new Patagonia Cap 4 beanie. Very light waffle polyester for excellent moisture control. I can wear the hood from the R1 if I get cold. The gloves pictured are First Ascent fleece gloves. I wear them for almost everything I do.

Orizaba Glacier Mountain Clothing Second Layers

Second layer clothing on the glacier

We stopped at the bottom of the glacier at roughly 16,400′ to decide what to do. We ate some food and drank water. We looked up at the glacier with decent conditions. We decided to just try to summit. Since we would now be on snow I put on some more layers of mountain clothing. I added a Patagonia R2 fleece (like thin monkey fleece as it’s often called). I like this because it breathes very well and is pretty warm with a wind layer. For the wind layer I used a First Ascent hooded wind jacket. I don’t think they make it anymore, but it’s pretty similar to the Marmot Trail Wind Hoody. That’s all I added or changed.

upper body mountain clothing on Orizaba in Mexico

At the top of the labyrinth with Orizaba summit above.

At about 18,000′, not too far from the summit, I became a little cool. I knew the summit was not too far away. It would be harder to stop, open my pack, and add layers while standing on a 50 degree ice slope. I stuck it out till we hit the top at 5:10 PM. Then I quickly opened my pack and pulled out my Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket to keep my core warm. When looking for a thin down hoody I searched for quite a while to find this excellent item of mountain clothing. I especially love the sleeve fit. Long enough for my monkey arms and form fitting enough not to be too baggy in backpack straps.

Orizaba Summit Mountain Clothing

Final layer for Orizaba Summit

With all the photography and videography going on up top my hands became cold. I have a pair of Mountain Hardwear climbing gloves with removable fleece liners. I don’t like the liners all that much but my First Ascent liners fit well in them. I slid the shells over my fleece gloves to keep the wind off as the sun set and the temperatures dropped.

Descending at sunset in the cold with mountain clothing on Orizaba

Descending Orizaba with a setting sun.

The temperatures dropped. We got lost in the labyrinth in the dark. We made our way through a maze of cliffs with failing batteries. Finally we saw headlamps from climbers at the hut preparing for their summit. We found our way to a cairn we recognized and arrived at the hut passing the first wave of climbers ascending. We knew even if we had to sit huddled behind a rock till sunrise that we’d be okay. The right mountain clothing can make all the difference.

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Orizaba, at approximately 18,500′ is the highest mountain in Mexico. I went to climb it with my friend Todd Gilles in March of 2013. It was quite warm, and after only one night at base camp, in our little tent, we went on an acclimatization hike starting at about 10:30 AM. Quite late. We ended up on the summit six and a half hours later, which includes about 45 minutes being lost in the Labyrinth – a steep area of mixed rocks and snow and ice.

Orizaba Summit the highest mountain in Mexico

On the Summit of the highest mountain in Mexico – Orizaba

I have been asked what I wore to climb the highest mountain in Mexico. I decided to post a few articles about it here for simplicity. As I stated in my disclaimer, I use Amazon links so you can see pictures and read reviews from other people, so you don’t have to just take my word for it. Remember the car commercial disclaimer: Your Mileage May Vary! This is just a list of what I wore, on the day I wore them, in the weather I wore them. If it were any colder I probably would have done a few things different.

Footwear to climb the highest mountain in Mexico - Orizaba

Footwear for Climbing on Orizaba

Footwear to climb the highest mountain in Mexico

I took double boots with me for warmth while climbing the Jamapa Glacier, about 1800′ of steep ice and snow. I ended up doing it in my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX Trail Running Shoe. In these shoes I like to use the Sole Ed Viesturs Signature Edition Insole. I use some version of the Sole insole in most of my shoes, as it gives me the proper footbed for my oddly shaped feet. For socks I wore Bridgedale Trail Socks over Injnji Performance Lightweight Crew. For me these are great liner socks. I use them to help prevent blisters between my toes. I used to get them pretty bad before.

lower body wear for the highest mountain in Mexico

Lower body wear for climbing Orizaba March 2013

Lower Body clothing to climb the highest mountain in Mexico

I like the way that the Men’s Under Armour Boxerjock fit and feel. They also resist odors well – something to seriously consider on a long expedition. Though our climb of the highest mountain in Mexico was fairly short. Over these I wore a thin base layer bottom made by The North Face. This was a generic bottom I got on clearance at The Sports Authority and I can’t find anything like it online. It’s fairly similar to Capilene 1 from Patagonia, but actually fits people with leg muscles. Over these I wore a MontBell Nomad Pant. I love these softshell pants. They’re my go-to pant for ice climbing and glacier hiking, including the highest mountain in Mexico. We had great weather.

That wraps up this short “lower body clothing” article. I’ll be back soon with the upper body, then the hardware, articles. I had a great time climbing Orizaba, third highest mountain in North America, highest volcano in North America, and the highest mountain in Mexico. I hope you get a chance to go and enjoy the culture and people. I hope you get to see the sunrise, or as we did, sunset, on this beautiful peak.

the Labyrinth on Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico

Me below the Labyrinth. Truly amazing scenery. On summit day.

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Elbrus FAQ – Elevations

August 21st, 2012 | Posted by Charles Miske in Europe | Logistics - (Comments Off)

While preparing for Elbrus, I made a quick Cheat Card to haul with me. I printed it up and laminated it, much like time splits for a marathon, except marker on the forearm won’t work under layers. Here is what I have, in case you’re interested in planning your own trip to Elbrus from the South

Here are some current Elevation Markers for Elbrus in Meters and Feet

Location: Meters Feet Difference Ft
Cheget 2079 6,820.87
Azau (Tram Station) 2359 7,739.50 918.64
Stari Krugozor (Tram Xfer) 2937 9,635.83 1,896.33
Mir (Tram Top) 3469 11,381.23 1,745.41
Barrels 3703 12,148.95 767.72
Diesel Hut 4062 13,326.77 1,177.82
Pastukhov Rocks 4720 15,485.56 2,158.79
Saddle 5350 17,552.49 2,066.93
West Peak 5642 18,510.50 958.01
East Peak* 5621 18,441.60 889.11

* East Peak Difference is based on hiking from the Saddle

And for those who might be interested, here are some stats left over from the Elbrus Race 2010 for what equates to a Top Ten Finish in that year.

Race Vert Ft Miles Avg grade Top 10 Minutes vert/min MPH
Qualifier 3570 2.5 27.05% 01:19:22 79.4 45.0 1.9
Classic 6334 4.6 26.08% 03:45:15 225.3 28.1 1.2
Extreme 10660 7.6 26.56% 05:29:34 329.6 32.3 1.4
Elbrus Race 2010 Qualifier

Lined up ready to leave for the Elbrus Race 2010 Qualifier (I’m #24 rear upper right)

Qualifier is from the Barrels Huts to Pastukhov Rocks (P-Rocks is what I call them). Classic is from the Barrels Huts to the West Summit. Extreme is from the Azau Lift Station to the West Summit.

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In December of 2009 I flew through Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania, and was shuttled to the hotel in Moshi for Zara Tours. The next day our small group boarded a bus with our gear and headed to the Machame Gate. Over the next 5 days we ascended through daily rain to the Barafu Camp and that night, New Years Eve, we took off for the summit shortly after midnight, accompanied by the singing and pan-beating of the celebrating porters.

After a fairly steep climb in rocks and snow we hit the relatively gentle final grade to the summit just after sunrise. We took a few pictures then headed back down to camp for lunch and a nap. I was a little under-dressed, wearing old ski and hiking clothes to donate to the porters, and had to borrow some softshell pants, as mine were soaked from the rainy day hikes. I had to wiggle my toes a lot in my three-season hiking boots, but I think it only got down to maybe 10 degrees F that night at the coldest – about 3 AM.

Kilimanjaro is the highest point of Africa, and is also the highest volcano in Africa, so is a member of both the Seven Summits and the Volcanic Seven Summits. I’d love to do it again, and have contemplated putting together various groups of friends or relatives, or even charity contributors. Oh, well. Enjoy these selected pics from my “rerun” gallery.

Kili Recap
Riding into Moshi - locals walking along railroad tracks.
Riding into Moshi – locals walking along railroad tracks.
Stopping at a quick mart - wooden giraffe licks roofing.
Stopping at a quick mart – wooden giraffe licks roofing.
Our van on the right - orange back sticking out on roof.
Our van on the right – orange back sticking out on roof.
Machame Gate - trailhead for Machame Route, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Africa.
Machame Gate – trailhead for Machame Route, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Africa.
Start of the Machame route 1800 Meters.
Start of the Machame route 1800 Meters.
Porters in line to weigh in.
Porters in line to weigh in.
So green and wet and muddy.
So green and wet and muddy.
They carry amazing loads on their heads.
They carry amazing loads on their heads.
Looking back at our camp.
Looking back at our camp.
Fun watching the porters squeeze the load through.
Fun watching the porters squeeze the load through.
More amazing porter load carrying ability.
More amazing porter load carrying ability.
The Alemanians.
The Alemanians.
Don't look so happy Zakriah
Don't look so happy Zakriah
Shira Camp. Night 2.
Shira Camp. Night 2.
Nice View.
Nice View.
More nice view.
More nice view.
Inside the mess tent. Steven, Simina, Maggie (left to right). Breakfast day 3.
Inside the mess tent. Steven, Simina, Maggie (left to right). Breakfast day 3.
I guess I'm happy here. Kili behind me.
I guess I'm happy here. Kili behind me.
Heading up to Lava Tower.
Heading up to Lava Tower.
Lunch in the shelter of a rock to protect us from the blowing rain. Steven, Simina, Matt, Maggie.
Lunch in the shelter of a rock to protect us from the blowing rain. Steven, Simina, Matt, Maggie.
Maggie, Simina, Matt. Lava Tower trail down to Barranco Camp.
Maggie, Simina, Matt. Lava Tower trail down to Barranco Camp.
Old tree near Barranco Camp.
Old tree near Barranco Camp.
Frosty night at Barranco Camp. Morning Day 4. Kilimanjaro Machame Route.
Frosty night at Barranco Camp. Morning Day 4. Kilimanjaro Machame Route.
See a nice line or two?
See a nice line or two?
Had to take this pic of a bird watching the sun rise.
Had to take this pic of a bird watching the sun rise.
Simina "kiss the rock" as Zakriah orders. Steven happy?
Simina "kiss the rock" as Zakriah orders. Steven happy?
So much fun scrambling on the rocks.
So much fun scrambling on the rocks.
Karanga - if you're doing a 6 day you skip this one. Camp for night 4 Machame Route.
Karanga – if you're doing a 6 day you skip this one. Camp for night 4 Machame Route.
Morning Day 5 - beautiful - trail to summit is along right ridgeline.
Morning Day 5 – beautiful – trail to summit is along right ridgeline.
Climbing up to Barafu Camp - another short day.
Climbing up to Barafu Camp – another short day.
Zakriah leads the way (left in red pack).
Zakriah leads the way (left in red pack).
Barafu Camp - ranger huts yurt-like at right.
Barafu Camp – ranger huts yurt-like at right.
Self portrait ready to head out and summit Kili. December 31 2009 about 11:45 PM.
Self portrait ready to head out and summit Kili. December 31 2009 about 11:45 PM.
Sunrise at Stella Point, 18,650' - Kilimanjaro.
Sunrise at Stella Point, 18,650' – Kilimanjaro.
Finally enough light to see the ice. Summit ridge, Kilimanjaro.
Finally enough light to see the ice. Summit ridge, Kilimanjaro.
Magic moment - yellow sunrise light on ice.
Magic moment – yellow sunrise light on ice.
More magic.
More magic.
Climbers coming down with moon behind.
Climbers coming down with moon behind.
Summit = 19,340' (Augustino, Steven, Simina, Maggie, Me, Zakriah) 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010.
Summit = 19,340' (Augustino, Steven, Simina, Maggie, Me, Zakriah) 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010.
Zakriah and me, at the top. It was fun talking to him about his family as we hiked.
Zakriah and me, at the top. It was fun talking to him about his family as we hiked.
 



If you want to read a summary I wrote after the fact here’s a link to the “expose”

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