Russia Mt Elbrus 2014

Why Elbrus?
Why did I decide to climb a mountain in a homophobic country, risking my freedom, even my life just to put a flag on hill? Well to be honest I don’t completely know even now, but he’s my best excuse.
Earlier this year on Valentines day I broke up with my last boyfriend after I found out he had cheated on me, It had been rocky for a few months as I was suffering with depression after a knee injury had stopped me excessing as much, which doesn’t sound that bad but I’m a very active person and it left me with little to do so I properly drank too much and started to fall into bad habits. So I spent next 2 weeks wallowing in my own sadness blaming the world for all my troubles.

At some point during those 2 weeks I had watched a Dispatches documentary on channel 4 called Hunted. The documentary, ‘Hunted’, focuses on two anti-gay groups, Parents of Russia and Occupy Paedophilia, who use the internet to trick victims into meetings before ambushing them and forcing them to do humiliating acts. This had a deep impact on me and snapped me out of feeling sorry for myself, when I thought of how little my problems were compared to other LGBT around the world. At this point I didn’t know what I was going to do about it, But for first time in my life I was thinking maybe I should do something.

On the morning of 28/2/2014 I was riding my mountain bike to work, I then had a brainwave or brain malfunction as my best mate called it, but I was going to go to Russia and climb Mt Elbrus, Russia’s highest mountain, one of the seven summits and taking my rainbow flag with me. I didn’t waste much time and by lunch time I was booked on expedition to leave on 9th August. That same day I decided that I would also fundraise for a charity one of my friends had told me about that campaign for LGBT equality in UK and around the world and so I got on the web looked up Stonewall and read a bit about them and it seemed appropriate that this should be the charity I fundraise for. So I phoned them up spoke to them, they helped me set up just giving page and that was it, that’s how it all begun.

The Route

 

Day 1
I woke up at 9am after a good night’s sleep in a Brighton hotel that my boyfriend had booked as a surprise for me. We had champagne and a big meal as he wanted to make our last night together special before I headed off to Russia, the poor boy quite worried about what I had planned was he was making quite an effort today. After a shower we headed up Queens road to the Weatherspoons pub for a fry up which was a bit of a disappointment because they had forgot to put our sausages on plate and we had to ask for them, not sure if I was meant to be a joke on not cheeky sods.
After breakfast we walked along the beach front, I liked watching the wave’s crash onto the stones, as I knew I wouldn’t see the sea again for at least two weeks and have this amount of oxygen to full my lungs with. We waste sometime looking in the art studios and had an ice cream each then headed back to Jack’s to pick up my climbing gear and drive the 50miles to Heathrow airport. The drive to the airport was filled with my normal chatting shit and asking Jack stupid questions. Jack was telling me to be careful and stuff but I wasn’t really paying attention due to my singing and dancing whilst drinking a can of strongbow. Your properly thinking I’d have been more nervous but to be honest I didn’t really care at this point because it still didn’t seem real what I was planning to try and do if that makes any sense.
At the airport Jack waited with me for about half an hour as we had arrived really early. We hugged and he told me be careful again and seemed quite worried which made me feel a bit uneasy so I quickly came in with a silly joke and pushed it to back of my mind. After Jack had left me in the airport I waited for the other members of the expedition to arrive. I hadn’t met any of them before and I always find it interesting the people you met on these commercial expeditions also I was getting a little nervous for the first time, wondering what would happen if at Moscow I got stopped because they had read what I was planning to do on the internet and found the rainbow flag hidden in my bag, but I again quickly pushed that to the back of my mind and set about looking for people with the same kitbag as me. It wasn’t long before I found them first I met Martin and Laura nice couple in the mid-50s, then Steven, Sonjay and the group leader Mark arrived and we all checked in together, there were 3 more members flying in from other UK airports and we would be meeting them in Moscow. We had a few beers together airside before we got on plane. The flight left at 22.15 and was 1 of the worst flights I’d ever been on, it was full of annoying school kids making loads of noise and I couldn’t sleep at all. We arrived at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport at 05.00 local time and for the second time I was a little nervous and was worrying in my own head about getting through customs or if I would get flagged up which some my friends had joked about and put straight back on a plane to London which would have been a disaster, to me this seem very possible but I told myself I had an over active imagination and was being paranoid. Thankfully 20 minutes after landing I was though customs, visa stamped and took all of 30 seconds panic over. We met the 3 other team members Jonny, Ken and Rodney had a couple more beers and waited the 2 hours for our second flight to Mineralnye vody and this flight was as bad as the first but we arrived safely at 11.00am and was met my our in country agents and here day 1 ends.

All our kit safely arrived

All our kit safely arrived

Day 2
So we arrived in Mineralnye vody safely and so did all our bags to which we were thankful for, we were greeted by our hosts and taken to our transport a run-down rusted minivan which clearly had been around since the start of the cold war, and with 12 people in I felt like a sheep going to the slaughter, the heat of the day as well made the 4 hour journey to the hotel all most unbearable, we did stop off once in what I think was a Russian version of a service station, it was a row of wooden buildings selling anything you could like of and more, there was large older women selling what I believed to be knocked off mobile phones, pretty young girls selling there youthfulness to the old fat lorry drivers, it seem like a very strange place like I had been dropped into the hole in the film Alice in wonderland, as of holes it seem the only place to go toilet in this so called service station was in the field behind the row of buildings, where a fearsome looking old lady stood guard at a farmers metal gate charging 10 roubles for the pleasure of weeing or 2ing in a hole in a field. After our short strange pit stop we piled back into the cramped, boiling mini bus and continued on our way, the drive was a scary one as the local cows seemed to enjoy walking into oncoming traffic completely unfazed but the car, trucks and buses flying by dodging them.
We arrived at hotel about 6pm, it is set just off the road in some woodland and is very picturesque made of wood with a river running though the grounds. We checked in and I paired up with Jonny to share a room, Jonny’s a 25 year old lad from Scotland and the youngest of the group after me and drinks like a fish as do most northerners I met on my travels over the years. We decided on dinner at 8pm, which gave us couple of hours to have a shower after the 1 and half of traveling and time to have a few of the local beers before our food. The food was nice some meat balls in some kind of tomato and herb source. After dinner we all introduced ourselves properly to each other and Mark outline the next couple of days of climbing and where we would be going. After that I had couple more beers and headed off to bed at about 10.30pm.

Crazy music on way to hotel in old mini bus!

Our very nice hotel

Our very nice hotel

Day 3 Terskol peak 3400m.
Today I woke up at 7.30am, Jonny was still sleeping so I woke him up and we got our gear ready for the day, in my daysack packed wet weather gear, camelbak, chocolate, two bottles of coke, trekking poles and my gopro. I had checked the weather forecast for the day and it was good so I decided to wear shorts and tee-shirt. We set off at 9.00am and walked through the village to the base of Terskol peak, the trekking was easy going and was very much like a walk in the Scottish highlands just on a much bigger scale. Got our first real view of Mt Elbrus and looks amazing can’t wait to get on it. Terskol peak itself has an observatory and was site of a battle during Second World War. My body coped well with first days acclimatizing with 1300m of ascent with only a little headache which could have been the beers from night before and 23km of walking in under 8 hours for first day is ok. Back at hotel we had diner at 7pm, then I and four other members of our group went into town to local drinking hole and stayed way to long and drank way to much got to bed about 11pm smashed lol

Terskol peak sefie

Terskol peak sefie

Clowning around

Clowning around

Day 4 Cheget peak 3461m.
Oh my god woke up at 4am with the driest mouth and couldn’t get back to sleep due to the hangover kicking in from the night before. We had breakfast which I had to force down and we set off at 8.15am. The first part of the trek was ridiculously steep combined with my hangover I thought I was going to be sick which stayed with me for a good couple of hours until I sweated it out in the heat of the day. The only thing keeping me going was the stunning views of Elbrus 15km away to my right hand side and the Caucasus range on the Georgian border to my left. The day got hotter and hotter I drank most of my water 2L and 2 bottles of coke cola which was a god send because I think it was what cure my hangover. The views from summit were great and I felt a lot better by that time. The walked down was as hot as the ascent. By time we got down I was extremely hungry so we stopped in village at the bottom for kebabs plus a couple beers then back to hotel, where I sort my kit out for tomorrow as we are heading to Elbrus for first taste of the serious stuff, so early night it is.

Veiw of Elbrus from Cheget summit

Veiw of Elbrus from Cheget summit

Day 5 First steps on Elbrus 4050m

Today we piled into the van, drove to the foot of Elbrus and jumped into a very scary looking cable car up to the Mir station from here it was a 45 minute walk to the Gara Bashi Barrels where we would be living in a couple of days, so we had a quick look around to see what we would need to bring to survive here.

After a quick break to put on our waterproofs we continued walking up Elbrus to the Pryatt 11 hut. I was getting in a pissed off mood by this point because I was so hot and didn’t see point in wearing waterproofs but I was soon to be convinced why we had them on as the cloud came over with the temperature dropping suddenly and the snow began to fall.

We reached Pryatt 11 hut 4050m after about an hour, it didn’t look much more than a wooden shack, but was next to a massive stone memorial covered with plaques on which had the names of climbers who had sadly fell victim to the mountain. We sat here for our lunch , which consisted of a small Russian meat sandwich, a grim looking apple and a snickers chocolate bar. After our lunch Mark called us round and told us to practice our ice axe arrest skills, so we found a nice little slop with a safe run out at the bottom.

So we started lunching ourselves down it, in various different ways with the aim of stopping ourselves sliding to the bottom, which was great fun and some people were getting way to cocky, when one of the group almost took out Mark doing a roly-poly down the slope, I thought it was funny.

During all this the snow had started to fall harder, so it was time the head down before we got caught in a storm, which would also stop the cable cars from working and would be a very long walk down the mountain if that was to happen.

We were very lucky with the cable car and had only just made it onto the last one for the day due to the oncoming storm. We got back to hotel at 2.30pm and me and Jonny went straight to the pub for some chicken kebabs washed down with beer, after this did a bit of shopping in a local climbing shop where I got a nice pair of down mitts and then we went back to the pub, got to bed about 11.30pm for the early 5am start the next day.

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On way back down from Pryatt 11 hut with clouds coming in.

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First look at Gara Bashi Barrels

Day 6 Mt Andyrchi 3913m

Feeling grim maybe had too many Russian beers last night, not a good idea with a 5am start. Today we have about an hour’s drive in the bus, heading out to the Aydi su valley which lays in the border control zone with Georgia, so we have to take our passports and special permits and are not allowed to take pictures of any military check points or of army personnel. We arrived at the main check point to the border zone about 6.45am which was guarded by 3 Russian soldiers all with AK47s.

We had to get out of the van, hand over our passports and permits to the solider sitting in a guard hut next to the road. They took about 30 minutes checking all 10 of our passports and permits not sure what they checked them against, pretty sure it was just for show, there didn’t seem to be much in the hut, no computers so pretty sure it was just a waste of time to make them look like they were doing something. I was fairly cold, as I only had a t-shirt on and was getting in a bit of a mood but we got the all clear and were on our way again.

On the next stage of the drive we saw some very big anti- aircraft guns and were told to look out for Bears as this was Bear country and people had been attacked in the past out here in the valley. We drove down a beautiful wooded track for about 10 minutes into a small clearing in the forest where there was a small farm house in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t imagine how quite it must be to live here, but in such beauty.

So the first thing I needed to do before we started up Mt Andyrchi was take a shit in a bush while looking out for Bears not the best of starts at 7am. The first part of the trek was extremely step, I was instantly sweating like a pig on a barbeque and had a pounding headache, so I downed a litre of water, which did the trick. I was carry 4 litres of water and 2 bottles of coke today as I knew it was going to be a slog.

We walked up the steep slope in amongst the trees for 1 and half hours before the trees thinned out and turned into long grass with pretty yellow flowers. After we had climbed about 500m in altitude we came to a flat grassy clearing with the most stunning views of the Caucasian mountains, one of the most breathe taking scenes my eyes had ever witnessed. From this point onwards I was filled with energy and found the rest of the climbed easy as I spent most of it in deep thought, thinking about life and the wonders of places like this and how lucky I was to be here.

Once at the summit the views were amazing in every direction, we stayed at the top for quite a while taking it all in. Once it was time to go, I told everyone to go ahead and I would catch up as I wanted to spend 5 minutes in this place on my own. I looked out towards Mt Elbrus and took a minute to remember why I was here, and to imprint this memory of this place firmly into my brain, so I never forget it, because I know these special moments pass, once you are back in the normal world, away from the mountains, the peacefulness and clarity of mind they bring . I don’t want this moment to fade, like I know it will, like I know it has too, or you would never leave, never return to the normal world. Once I had snapped out of my moment and as I was on my own I decide to pull a moonie using my selfie stick, it seemed like one of them once in a life time moments, that I just had to do it. Lol

Also at the top we all took our stats my heart rate was 88 bpm and 91% ox. On the decent my knees were hurting a little, but I was way in front descending the quickest with Laura and Martin, chatting and joking about the different types of people you meet on these expeditions from the UK. We were maybe going a bit too quick, as Laura took a trip on the way down and cut her knee and elbow, but Martin patched her up quickly from his first aid kit. Steve had caught up during this time and me and him, sprinted off a head. I loved every minute of running down this mountain, I felt so free. I was first back to the start at the little farm house, where there was now some Russian girls camping in the back garden I said hello, to watch they said hello back I good English and we had little chat while the others caught up. Some people cooled off in a stream before we set off to go back to the hotel, but I didn’t risk it as I didn’t like the look of the pipe running into it from the farm house and thought it might be a poo pipe. Lol

On the way back down I was thinking who cool it would be to do some of these adventures with Jack and when I get back I promised I would drag him on some of these adventures kicking and screaming if I had too.

Once back at the hotel after the short journey back from the border control zone, I had a quick shower and spent hour packing my gear ready for the move up to the barrels tomorrow. Went down for dinner at 7.30pm, yummy meatballs stuffed in peppers, at this point was going to have early night but Jonny, Steve and Mark had better ideas and off to the village pub we went. I had about 5 beers and was feeling quite pissed, we all chatted, joked and swapped climbing stories before heading off to bed about 11.30pm again. Jonny’s alarm went off 5am which was grim as we didn’t need to be up until 8am but I was soon back to sleep.

Stunning views of the Caucasian mountains

Stunning views of the Caucasian mountains

Mt Elbrus

Mt Elbrus view from the summit of Mt Andyrchi

Day 7 Move up to Gara Bashi Barrels

Rolled out of bed around 7.30am with only a slight headache and hangover, Jonny was a lot worst to my amusement. Packed the rest of my stuff I need for the move up to the barrels and went down for breakfast. The mini bus came to pick us up at 10am, we pack the mini bus out with all our gear and once all 10 of us were on board it was a tight squeeze. It was a short trip to the cable car station at the bottom of Elbrus, where we piled all of our gear into 2 of the cable cars and we were on our way up back to Mir Station, then we had to put each of our bags into a chairlift and ourselves for the terrifying ride up to the barrels. I can tell you this was one of the scariest rides I have ever been on because these things didn’t look or feel safe at all, you were held in by a rusty looking bar, and the chairs blew from side to side in the wind. I was thankful once we had arrived at the barrels without dying.

I was sharing my barrel number 4, which so happens to be my lucky number and date of my birthday with Mark, Jonny, Alison and Sonjay. All nice people and enjoy the banter.

Our first meal at the barrels was strange unknown meats and cheese, which I quite enjoyed. After which we all went for a short walk up the mountain, where we meet some members of other teams coming down from the summit, who were completely smashed, coming down in full down gear, but the temperature was 30c on the mountain this time of day, shows just how tough and quickly things can change on these high mountains.

Diner was even better than lunch a beef curry and an amazing soup. After diner I watched the most beautiful sunset over the mountains that turn them all pink. Before bed Mark gave a short talk about meds, because we were going up to going up to 5000m tomorrow, and if anyone is thinking about taking Diamox to tell him first. I won’t be. I also had my first use of the long drop at the barrels and OMG they are the worst of any I have had use, on all of my travels including Africa. Went to bed 10pm

Terrifying chairlift up to barrels, warning some swearing!

Caucasian range, pink sunset

Caucasian range, pink sunset

 Day 8 Pastukov Rocks 4800m

It’s 5.17am and I cannot be fucked today, had the worst night’s sleep yet, lots of people snoring last night but on the plus side the mountain looks wonderful in the morning sunrise from window. We had breakfast at 6am, muesli with hot milk, meat and cheese which I made into a sandwich to saved for later. Mark told us to put our cold weather gear on as he thought the weather was coming in a bit. We left at 7am and for the first half hour it was cold, with light snow but it then very quickly the weather cleared and the sun came out, which made us all very hot, very quickly, I felt dirty and sweaty within minutes and after a short time we all stopped to put cold weather gear away in our rucksacks.

Today I could see some people were feeling the strain, one member of the group was having trouble with her legs aching really badly, another had a stomach ache which meant they had to keep stopping for loo breaks and everyone had generally slowed down.

I made an effort today to speak to every member of the group and find out as much as I could about them. It always amazes me the different kinds of people you meet on these trips, we are all different ages from 25 year old to 71 years old on this trip, I find that amazing.

It was so hot on the walk up and took us 3 hours walking slowly to reach Pastukov rocks at 4800m, where we had lunch and spent one hour acclimatising, we were going to go higher but Mark was still worried about the weather as there was a lot of cloud to the south. I enjoyed coming back down the mountain as I spent a lot of it sliding down on my arse because there were some safe snow slopes with clear run outs, made it a lot of fun.

Once down everyone went for a sleep or tired to sleep with the noise of other teams and people snoring at the barrels. Diner was some sort of fish with homemade chips it’s amazing what they can cook up here with such limited facilities.

Tonight almost everyone has gone to the Gara bashi barrels bar hut, the other side of the base that people found earlier but I don’t want to drink this close to summit day and my belly isn’t feeling too good and I’ve had to visit the long drop more than I would like. I think some people I are starting to realise I’m gay now, no one has asked but I can just tell, Jonny knows because I told him but he still can’t work out what the surprise is, if we reach the summit. I hope I do make the summit, I was worried for the first time it today, but I’m sure I have what it takes, even if I have to crawl to the top. Went to bed early as everyone else was out, so had barrel to myself. Got to sleep about 8.30pm.

The group heading up to Pastukhov Rocks

The group heading up to Pastukhov Rocks

Me looking cool at Pastukhov Rocks 4800m

Me looking cool at Pastukhov Rocks 4800m clouds coming in from south.

Day 9 Rest day at Barrels.

Was up all night with diarrhoea, bellyache and people’s snoring didn’t help. Feeling really unwell today, guessing it was that stupid fish or dirty water. Breakfast at 9am, forced it down was a weird boiled sausage with eggs, made me feel even worst. Its Martins 60th birthday today, Laura has a card for us all to sign, cool place to have your 60th birthday, hope I’m still rocking it on my 60th birthday up a mountain somewhere.

After breakfast we had group meeting to discuss summit plan, we will be leaving at 3am tomorrow, 18 hours from now and the weather is not looking amazing, but it’s our only chance as the weather is going be even worst in the coming days according to the forecast.

It’s about midday and I’ve been to the long drop of death 6 times already so I decided to walk over to the other side of base to the café/bar to get got 3 litres of bottle water, only going drink this stuff now, had enough of the dodgy camp water.

This morning I had started to lose faith, that I could do this but as the day goes on and after I forced myself to eat again, pringles with a bit of chocolate, I can feel some strength returning, trust me to get ill this close to the summit.

Trying to sleep in these barrels in the day time is impossible, it so hot outside today, hard to imagine the weather is meant to be turn shit later. There are no curtains in the windows of these barrels, so the sun is pouring straight in. Resting at 3800m is never going be easy I guess.

I have managed to sleep a little bit now, going to walk over get 3 more litres of bottled water before diner, still shitting more than I’d like. I think tonight before bed I’m going take couple of Imodium and couple more before I leave for the summit, I can’t be stopping to shit every 5 minutes, I won’t make it, so better to block myself up, and just deal with the bellyache, if it gives me one.

At diner we had Russian buckwheat and meatballs was nice, belly is feeling better than it was. Rod has bit of bad belly as well today, will be doing same as me tonight he said, stupid bloody fish.

7.30pm everyone is doing last minute checks, apart from me and Jonny as we did it earler. I’m writing this and he is playing a game on phone and losing I think because he keeps swearing at it very loudly lol

8pm just been toilet for at least 10th time today, time to take Imodium and try sleep night, night.

Moaning about everything! warning a lot of swearing.

Day 10 Summit!

Woken up by Mark shaking me, scared the shit out of me to the point I screamed, everyone spent the next 5 minutes as we got ready pissing themselves with laughter at my expense. We all got dressed into our down gear and even before I had left the barrel I could feel it was cold outside tonight. Once I had got all my down gear on and was ready, I had to rush to toilet again! lol Sods law and it was freezing outside as I dashed the 50 metres to the long drop of doom. I took 2 more Imodium and I hoped this did the trick because I had already decided in my head that I was never going to give up, even if I shit myself, I have read so many adventure books about how much people suffer for things like this and I was willing to suffer a lot for the summit, I have a point to prove, manly to myself and I wasn’t going let a bad belly and a bit of shit stop me.

So we left the barrels, it was cold about -15c I reckon,  I was walking near the back of the group, nice and slowly, I didn’t feel great physically because of my sickness, but I had managed to stay mentally strong, I knew if I stayed hydrated and kept my head together I could do this.

We were about one hour in and one of our group was falling really far behind, struggling with the altitude. They made the decision to turn back around, they knew if you are struggling this early it’s not going be your night, things don’t tend to get better the longer you go on. I was gutted for them, it’s not a nice feeling losing one of your team, but I think it was the right call.

It was cold and windy and the higher we got the worst the cold and wind was. By the time we were past Pastukov Rocks my water was already half frozen, were about 3 hours in, my energy was starting to fade, we were somewhere in the saddle of the mountain and we stopped for a break, I had to two bottles of coke cola in my bag, so I dug one out and down the bottle almost in one, it was like when Popeye eats a can of spinach, the effect was instant, I felt some energy flow back into my body, I also eat an energy gel at this point.

We walked for what seemed only a short time longer, when we reached the west side of the saddle, the weather was still windy, cold and visibility was about 5 mitres if that. We stopped again and Mark decided to rope us all together, as the next part of the mountain could be tricky in these conditions, I was completely against being roped together, but wasn’t up to me. I ended up being in the middle of the rope, which 6 of us were roped up in.

It was a nightmare from the off, people were walking at different paces, and it made it a lot harder for everyone but I could see why Mark had decided to do it, as the visibility was so poor and there were other groups going up as well, someone could easily get separated and lost, plus there is a massive snow slope to the right, where you could easily slide to one’s death.

We carried on up the side of the west summit the going was slow, cold and hard. The snow was falling and deep. We were walking along a track only about a foot wide when it happened, someone behind me slipped and fell to the right, It was like a domino effect but almost instant, I smashed my ice axe straight into the snow, it happened so quick we must of slide only about 20 feet down, out of the six people on the rope, only three of us had managed to ice axe arrest and stopped us from sliding any farther, but it was over, the person that had first fallen, was in a panic flapping about pulling on the rope,  making us fall more little by little, my heart was beating hard, Jonny was at the back and had got his ice axe deep into the snow, he was next to the person screaming, panicking for help, then it was me, then it was one the old boys, he was upside on his back facing head first down mountain,  he starting to panic a little as well, then it was Steve, ice axe firmly in, then the guide Vladimir. I stayed calm but the panicked person, I had lost all control, we tried to calm back up roped together, but we get about 10 feet and they fell again, this time both people to each side of me were picnicking, on this fall only me, Jonny and steve, got our axes in. Vladmir fell, but this time, he unclipped himself and he climbed up. I shouted at the person to my left to stop moving as it was pulling us down and calm down. This didn’t seem to work at first, I then spoke to the old boy on my left and he told me he was done, then someone from above chucked a rope down to the old boy and told him to unclip and pull himself up. It took him about 10 minutes get the conference to do this, by this time Jonny had unclipped himself from the rope and had climbed up. So was just me and Steve holding 4 of us up with our ice axes buried deep into, my arms were burning, and my energy had completely gone, all I wanted was to make sure I got out of this alive now. Vladmir now climbed down and helped the old boy climb back up. The person to my left had stopped panicking but was tangled in the rope, laying down to scared to move, being held up by me and Steve, Vladmir had to climb down and untangle them, which took another 10 minutes, I was done, completely fucked.

After the person was off the rope, me and Steve were the only ones still roped together, we didn’t climb straight back up we traversed to our right going slowly up as we did until we back up on the ledge. Once we got back with the group, even though I didn’t release it at the time we were at the plateau and only 10 minute walk from the summit, but I thought we were finished after that drama I was sure it was over. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to make it, my body was empty, then Vladmir walked over to me and Steve, shook both our hands and said drink something, then we walk summit, I could believe it, we still were going for it, I drank some water, and we all roped back together and set off again, we walked so slow, my body was gone but my brain was telling me to go on, one step at a time, that’s all I was thinking about, just each step nothing else, even when I saw the summit coming up, I still wasn’t sure I could make it, I was sure my body was going give up on me, but it didn’t and we got there. The weather was shit and there was no view but I was at the top of Russia, Europe highest peak 5642m, I’d made it, I took out my camera and it was frozen, luckily Jonny’s was working. Then it was time to do what I’d planned to do for these last 5 months, to make my point, I pulled my rainbow flag out of my bag, and took the pictures, I’d like to say I was proud of myself at that moment but I wasn’t I just wanted to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. We all congratulated each other and took pictures in total we were only on summit about 5 minutes, but I will always remember them 5 minutes they mean more to me now than they did at the time.

We walked the 10 minutes back to the start of traverse back down, on the way back to over,I was so tired I fell over and pulled us all over, Before we started back down we stopped to eat, I downed the other bottle of coke cola and a shot of Jonny’s scotch, bloody burnt all throat but it gave we strength. This time we were roped up differently only 4 of us on one rope, the panicker on their own rope with Vladimir and the others were behind us with the other guide. We went very slowly and took us 2 hours get back down to east side of the saddle, the weather was still cold, well below zero, snowing and windy.  We stopped again once we had reached just above Pastukov Rocks and the group rejoined back together, I was getting some energy back in my body again from the food, but I was still nackered, as were all of us, we all looked fucked, the mountain hadn’t been kind with the conditions but 9 of us had made the summit not bad. It took another couple hours before we were back at the barrels. Once there we all hit our beds, strangely I couldn’t sleep, and we were to have another night here as the weather was stopping us going down the mountain any farther. So after we had all slept we hit the Bara bar and had a good few beers, which caused my belly problem to return during that night, but I didn’t care I had done it.

Me with Rainbow flag on summit of Mt Elbrus, Russia 5642m

Me with Rainbow flag on summit of Mt Elbrus, Russia 5642m

Day 11 Celebrations

Woke up at the barrels about 7am and we packed our stuff a headed down using cable car. Once down we jumped in the mini van. Once back I at the hotel I spent a good 20 minutes in the shower before me and Jonny started on the beers, we all went down into the village and had meal, washed down with about 13 bottles of Russian vodka and champagne, blacked out don’t remember the night. Amazing trip all I can say right now.

The group piss up!

The group piss up!

Before I left and once back in the UK I was interviewed by a few magazines I’ve included the links below for you if you want to read them. I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip, hope it inspires you to be yourself no matter what!

Gay Times interview

EQview interveiw

Surrey Mirror interview

Gscene interveiw

The Argus interview before leaving

The Argus after Climb

Pink news

Vada magazine