Sunday, July 1, 2012

Elbrus Race 2010 - Looking Back from 2012

It's been two years now, and I've been avoiding looking back at this for a number of reasons, and have just reread some of my old posts since I put up a story and links on my other Seven Summits Quest Blog. I have been thinking on and off about this for the last couple years, and mostly stifling my own feelings about it, but now I've begun seriously thinking about doing it again this year, which stirred the pot.

I think first I'll clear up some of my previous intentional obfuscations.

1. One of the people there, supposedly a well-known climber in their own country (which I know to be true since another climber from that country met them warmly in a strange coincidental meeting) appeared to require a great deal of assistance of a general nature. Like how to wear socks. Seriously about that bad. For some ridiculous reason I ended up being the sock instructor so to speak, and general living coach. I have since pretty much stopped that on a non-professional basis. This is what I referred to as "babysitting" in an old post.

2. Like I had mentioned before about food, and group endeavors, I did end up on another group endeavor, and ended up with what was later diagnosed as an inflamed gall bladder most likely caused by having a fatty diet with coconut milk in a casserole. The normal USA way to eat on a glacier expedition requires a lot of fatty meals to help you stay warm. I suspect it's also because most "normal" USA climbers eat that way anyway, and it helps them feel more like home in the wild. I'm not sure what to do about this. Most of the foreign expedition food I've eaten was a lot lower in fat. The Russian food was awesome. The Argentinian food was awesome, but way too much meat. The Kili food was barely tolerable, and I did end up with diarrhea on summit eve. The problem with these is that as a training athlete, I've got an eating schedule that doesn't jibe with the Euro plan of donuts and tea at 10:00 AM. Sliced meat and cheese on pastry sometime between 1:00 and 4:00 PM, and then 5,000 calories of full-on meal at 10:00 PM. If you eat on that plan expect to have a tough time acclimatizing and training and making any kind of progress.

3. Russians in the barrels partying all night, then getting dressed to leave, then canceling the snowcats, then getting dressed to leave, then deciding to just stay put. Good night sleep, right? Also, inviting all your friends from among what passes for sponsored climbers there to sit and eat and not announcing dinner until they've finished with their portions. Not too bad, except they bring the food up the tram in measured portions according to who paid to be fed. The last two days up there those who paid got very slim pickings. 

4. It's my understanding that the Redfox Elbrus Race in May is in the official Skyrunning Series, so anyone wanting to set a record, and sneak in a ringer, should be doing it during that race, since it's sanctioned and they won't recognize your record in this race in the Autumn, even if it is 10 minutes faster than the amazing record they just announced recently.

So do I want to do it again? There is a part of me that really does. I love the mountain and the people. I love going uphill at a speed that I feel for me is very fast, though I know among these elite athletes I'm just a tired old snail of a man. I wandered around lost after my massive failure last time. I know it was just a weird set of circumstances, and whether it was the exposure to bronchitis, the dysentery, the 3 hours of sleep the two nights in the Barrels with the Russians, the hassles over begging for water, or some combination, at some level I failed. I beat myself up over it for a long time. 

Maybe I still am.