Day 3: High Camp to Summit, 5054m
The First Section: High Camp to Upper Plateau
Believe it or not, I was able to get an hour of sleep. It was 5am when I woke up. My headache was gone, my stomach was doing better but I felt so incredibly weak. Spending the night at high altitude had broken my strength, I paid the toll for pushing too hard. With whispering voice, I told Shota that I won’t be able to go for the summit. He looked at me with his wise, experienced eyes. Then he smiled. You’re going to make it, he spoke indubitably. He said, that he had seen so many climbers with AMS, he knows exactly that I was doing fine, that I had the strength and endurance to make it. What I had experienced, he told me, is normal. I shouldn’t focus on it too much. Shota had enough confidence for both of us. How could I still had so many doubts?Determined I’d make it, I pulled myself up, put on my big, heavy boots, tied my orange shoelaces, got into my crampons and took my ice axe. Ready for the summit push. Because even thinking about food made me feel nauseous again, I decided to skip breakfast. I still had two bars of Mars in my backpack, those shall contain the sufficient amount of carbs to provide enough energy for the remaining 500m altitude gain.We started the summit push at 5am, 3 hours later than planned. Weather was still incredible. The sun hadn’t risen yet but the tall mountains of Russia were already glimmering in the morning’s first golden light, white cotton candy like clouds moving slowly below us. The iconic peaks of Elbrus and Ushba were greeting, were warmly welcoming us from a distance.Probably it was the adrenaline finally kicking in, but with every step up the steep slope, I was feeling more motivated, better, happier. There were still some hours of climbing ahead of us, on almost vertical sections of the glacier, on seracs and crevasses, but we were pushing for the summit now. Determined not to allow any further doubts, I was feeling stronger then ever. On two bars of Mars.
The Second Section: Reaching the Summit
I came to Georgia on my own in the middle of a pandemic to climb my first 5000m peak. I drove on crazy mountain roads, met the kindest strangers, met the most wonderful climbing partner I could have ever asked for, @climbing_georgia, crossed big rivers, fell into a crevasse, got sick, didn’t sleep, felt weak, felt strong. I pushed through all those emotions, I pushed myself to my personal limits and beyond.
I made it.
Summit day was intense, it was exhausting, it was wonderful. With each of the last remaining steps on the almost vertical section to the peak, I also let go of all the exhaustion, of the tiredness, the weaknesses. I let go of it all. When I reached the small summit plateau, all those emotions were gone. My heart was racing, but this time not because of altitude, this time it was because of excitement. Perfect weather, amazing company, endless views. I couldn’t have asked for more perfect settings.
But then, all of a sudden, a crazy Polish man named Yazek greeted me with a big bottle of champagne and crystal glasses. I had no idea who that person was but I didn’t refuse his offer.
The sun was shining, we laughed, we drank champagne out of crystal glasses at 5054m ASL.
Was it even real? It was. And we’ve all earned it.
And now? The goal was to climb two 5000m peaks in 7 days. There was still a two day hike back ahead of us, but then we shall be off to Turkey to climb Ararat.
Because climbing one mountain is never enough, it only gets you addicted even more.
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