June 2, 2003
[ mh ]


A brief memoir from Russia

The mountain came and went... and so did another week in the life.
We are back in Moscow. for most of my life, I never thought I'd come here for any reason.

Moscow is very different from St Petersburg: modernized, cleaner, fresher. But, also, not a place for me. We spent a day here after leaving Leningrad last week, and prior to our jaunt to the Caucasus range. And now we are back with five days left and naught to do. After those five days we'll see how I feel about this town. But now about El'brus:

This mountain adventure, like most of them, was quite exciting. We cooked dinner alongside country roads that flowed between rolling green hills covered with grazing livestock and occasional russian cowboys. We meditated over grandiose panoramic views of the snowcapped Caucasus, one of the most spectacular ranges in the world. And we strove with indefatigable will against the daily storms and all the elements that tried to stop us from climbing the tallest peak in Europe. Our many camps were the highlights of our journey. There was the five thousand meter high shoveled out snow shelter that we built hurriedly in blinding hail and wind. And there was the old faltering hut standing on insecure rocks whose walls began to melt when we lit a fire inside. But the most exciting, was the campsite that was struck three times by lightning. The last of these strikes making us seek refuge elsewhere for a few hours before returning to our things.

On the fourth evening we awoke at 23:30 and began preparing for our summit attempt. Four hours later we had melted enough snow to drink for the coming day, packed our things, tied the tent down so it would not blow away in our absence, marked it with red flags in case it got buried in falling snow, and prepared a meal to energize ourselves.

We began hiking in the frigid winds under a new moon, headlamps lighting our way, taking turns leading - the leader had the fatiguing job of kicking and chopping through the eighteen inches of new fallen snow to blaze a path for the others to climb as well as of finding the safest route available for the team. Eight hours later; our bodies sore, tired, and sunburned; our water bottles refrozen and undrinkable; and our minds drunken due to the lack of oxygen, we stepped onto the summit together, congratulated ourselves, and headed back down to break camp and return to the bottom of the mountain. Within seven hours of summitting we were at a hotel in the valley, showering and preparing for a celebratory dinner of actual foods, (instead of freeze dried carbohydrates.)

It is always sad to realize that something you have worked so hard for is so fleeting, and so insubstantial - a moments view across the earth. All this for the chance to have a tiny glimpse from a new vantage point. All we want is to try to see things from the heavens' eye. And it is there for a moment, and then it is gone.

Goodbye El'brus. Whatever comes next, comes next...

— Matthew


< previous : billet-doux entries

........................................................................

feeL free to submit correspondeNces & such to BijaXOuS suPpleMente for future oNliNe publictioN right here — on billet-douX ::: the moRe trippy & surreaL my friends the betteR of course { of course } — but pleaSe doO try to keep it crisp & cleaN as we may have to edit out the naughty bits { boO hoO } ::: but aNyhow ::: thiS is the exciting space whereby you the gentle reader the end-user the aspiring novelist the prize-winning poet the malicious dictator the self-proclaiMeD ceo the negligent father the priest-in-training the beautiful coquette du jour the flippant door-to-door shoe salesmaN the run-of-the milL eVerymaN the mellifluent cybertrader the phonesex specialist the overnight delivery agent the post-productioN gentrymaN the oNliNe chat fiend or foe or ...

yes — you get to correspond & spilL forth the variegated thoughts of randoM delight
right here at BijaXOuS suPpleMente :
eZiNe w/ an internationaL flaiR

........................................................................

send billet-doux submissioNs to
BijaXOuS suPpleMente

::: eitheR :::

by snailmaiL
po box 1098, middleton, ma 01949

::: or :::

by email
billet-doux@bijaxous.com

........................................................................