Why do you need a summit?
After choosing the day of the acsent on March 31, having woken up the day before in the alpinist apartment of the village of Neutrinos, slightly feeling the jitters and creeps from an overabundance of adrenaline in the blood, I repeated again and again in my head: "THE ACSENT IS TODAY".
I go out of the bathroom and hear Sergey’s cough. I go into the room where Sergey curled up under a woollen blanket and stuck out his inflamed red nose. "I think I have a temperature," he says dejectedly.
Everything broke. During the days of our preparation for the climbing, I already became related to Sergey, and he seemed to me so strong and unconditional support that neither the glacier, nor the snowstorm, nor the freezing space for fifty miles around - nothing particularly scared me. During our acclimatisation Sergey was all the time up, almost without rest, and i was sure that his shoulder is the strongest one. And see.. just before the ascent ...
Quickly remembering everything we experienced during our preparation for the winter ascent to the "Elbrus East Peak 5642", weighing all the pros and cons, I firmly decided: "Anyway, I'll still climb anyway!".
After learning about my choice, the veteran climber Valera, once even a staff doctor in the USSR national mountaineering team, calmly asked: "Are you sure?".
Surprisingly to myself, I also calmly replied: "I'm sure." Valera spread his hands, which could be translated as a wish for luck, and gave me to “try" USSR titanium ice ax with the inscription: "Made in USSR". Then he said: "Look there, on the glacier ... Just in case, save my number, and I'll register you in the Ministry of Emergency Situations."
In ten minutes I was ready to leave for Azau. Already on the move I had a bite yesterday's meatball, carelessly left by a group of Vologda snowboarders and skiers who came to enjoy the slopes of Elbrus. I went to the exit, and suddenly the bell rang.
An experienced real alpinist stood in the doors, Vasilich, master of sports of the USSR , this way Valera introduced him to us. In the shabby sport trousers with sagging knees, in the Dynamo Olympic hat, in an unbuttoned worn down jacket. The skin on his face and on his arms was exhausted by the mountain sun, the burning frost and winds, which made him look like a wise snake. His breath with notes of alcohol and garlic for an unknown reason made me trust this big man.
Vasilich gave me a quick glance. He did not need to say anything aloud, I already understood that he thought at that moment: "Young. Long time will pass for his understanding how to not die stupidly in the mountains. " But about my suddenly awakened ability to read thoughts Vasilich did not suspect and uttered completely devoid of emotions: "Well, you decided to go alone?". And, hesitating, he added: "Are you ready to stay there forever?" At this peak? ".
I understood the seriousness of the question. The reinforced dose of adrenaline rushed straight to my heart, instantly forcing him to knock so hard, as it was in my life only once, on Volgobalt, when I was almost wrapped up in a motorboat with a board for a wakeboard. At that moment, all life lived instantly swept through all the corners of my inner universe, spreading with blood over the arteries and smallest capillaries.
And now it seemed to me that time froze, like prehistoric amber. For a split second, memories from a distant childhood came to life as coloured slides: from the cradle and the first slow school dance to the sounds of "Scorpions" to a quarrel and a fight with a best friend.
And I realised that fate brought me close to some important point, to some kind of turning point, when you can still turn back. To the well-fed, monotonous in his fussiness and exhausting in his lack of freedom manager's life. To the usual urban vibrations, to vanity of vanities, from which you begin to tire, as from heavy physical labor. To the endless "Groundhog Day", without days off and holidays, with a false, like a pasted smile on a tired face with dark circles under the eyes.
And you can not turn back and step into a new life - with the same feeling as parachutists step into the open sky. And suddenly the feeling of complete freedom seemed to lift me above me. Without looking at Vasilich's eyes, I answered his question with a short and unshakable "yes!". The pupils of the wise Vasilich narrowed. So, it must have looked like an approving smile in his performance. He barely nodded appreciatively and took up his leisurely instruction.
It was winter on Elbrus, and the most dangerous place on the route was almost 600 meters of impenetrable ice. On this glacier , which Vasilich called "bottle ice", the mountaineers constantly perished. He advised me to exercise particular caution on this spot.
Now, when I said unambiguous "yes", I had no doubt about it. But this, strangely enough, did not save me from fear. Uncontrollable, to taunts all over the body, clutching the heart of fear.
Later I became convinced that fear is a slightly wild, but noble feeling, which Mother Nature gave us. It is fear, tenacious and affectionate, like a street drunkard, that helps us survive when the voice of the mind is not heard because of the voice of feelings ...
But still closer to the point. It was then, on my first winter ascent, when I was left alone, I quite clearly answered the question that is tormenting any non-Alpinist: "Why do you need this peak?".
Today our team helps two and a half hundred people to climb the peak. They are all dreamers, romantics, enthusiasts, lovers of life. And yet, on the very first day of arrival to the base camp at the foot of Mount Elbrus, where it's not too late to change your mind and return home, at the big general meeting we ask the same question: "Why do you need a summit?" And if they do not have an answer , no matter how purposeful, bright, successful, they were in the "other" life - here they are unlikely to be lucky.
You see, the mountain is arranged the way that allow to summit only who are in great need. It's necessary for the real greatest need.
Climbing Mount Elbrus is often dedicated to someone or something. Not everyone talks about it out loud, but inside yourself. To the girlfriend, to anniversary date or just to a dream about something important ...
Now we go to the mountains well-equipped. We go to the summit, paying money, although in ancient times for such ascent people sacrificed their lives.
Why do I write all this? I appeal to newcomers who ever want to climb on the mysterious Elbrus mountain. And to those who have already visited the summit and clearly understand why he needs it. And, maybe, they are afraid, as for the first time. And maybe they are not afraid - they only know about it ...
Whatever it was, but it is absolutely certain that after climbing Elbrus you will never be the same. This is work, and feat, and test, and goal, and the dream - all at once, all one.
And no one promises that it will be easy. Emotionally yes. Dangerous - yes. Unforgettable - yes. And the rest, will see.
Now think. Do you need a summit?