About SMS Frankfurt Agency
founded in 1989 which is specialized in Media-Production:

Since 2000 Juergen Schreiter travels the world and started his adventure tours and global incentives.

More general info you find on some Business Networks, Facebook, Twitter and his Blog and YouTube Channel:

7. ALLGAEU-ORIENT RALLY 2012 is over
Finishing in Baku/Azerbaijan followed by the ceremony in Wadi Rum/Jordan

One of the last automobile adventures of this World, the old and youngtimer rally from the Allgäu region in southern Germany to the Orient and specifically to Baku in Azerbaijan was started 28th of April 2012 for the seventh time in Oberstaufen.
It was also in the year 2012 the Low Budget Rally for the people, who dream of participating in a calculable adventure. The rally is a cheap alternative for Paris-Dakar for strong Teams and good mooded people.

Jürgen Schreiter from SMS-Frankfurt participated in this years Allgaeu-Orient Rally for the first time with the CaBa Racing Team.

The Challenge:
2 Weeks – 13 Countries – 6,000 Kilometer and
No Highways – No Toll Roads – No Ferry Boats – No GPS!

Some first impressions on


La Playa Camp Ground & Picnic Grounds – looks like a nice place, but the management is serious cheating on guests and clients. – We had just lately about 29 complains from a bigger group… – Suddenly they did charge for guests which are already gone and have paid already – same with people who share a room, La Playa tries to get the whole amount for the room from all parties sharing.

Beside this never ever do their tours – Their boats are not really safe and they always put much more people on the boat as allowed!!! – You risk your life! In our case they put at least 30 people in a boat for 14-16 people!!! Good Luck with thatLa Playa, sorry – never ever again!

Never try La Playa Camp Ground in Caramoan Islands:


Start end March / Beginning April 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany

Our Route:
Start in Frankfurt and going by luxury Starline Bus
through Europe…
-back into Germany via Hamburg and Berlin to Poland
Ferry Boat / Flight
-USA (Miami / Orlando / San Francisco)
-Cambodia/Vietnam (alternate Korea) not fixed yet
SILK ROAD by Train
-Turkey (Istanbul)
-Italy (Rom)
-Spain (Madrid)
-Portugal (Lisboa)
-France (Paris)
-Germany (End of the Trip)

Don’t wonder if it might turn out as a 85 days trip!!! 😉

It will be also possible just to do some parts of this journey…
We have two parts available to book as a single / extra trip on it’s own!

Only a very luxury bus tour from West- to Eastern Europe, ending in Riga / Latvia. – approx. 12-14 days! Price 3.300 Euro

TOUR 2 | The famous Silk Road Train
from Kazakhstan via most of the stan countries – along the famous Silk Road… ending in Turkmenistan!
Duration: approx. 10-12 days!Price approx. 3.900 Euro

More details to follow:



Now avialable – Vodka Train Merchandising | Vodka Train Fan Shop

We understand this is the right name for an adventure trip on its own. Travelling on the Russian-/Mongolian-Railway from Moscow to Beijing. More than 5.000 Miles, 18 Days, 10 Cities, 7 Time Zones, 3 Countries, 2 Continents and just ONE ORIGINAL VODKA TRAIN.
Usually we do this trip 1-2 times a year. We have one summer tour and a shorter version in winter.
Beside this we offer a wide range of other adventure- and sports trips and events. Most of our tours are in Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia.
Just recently we started also in other parts of Asia as Philippines, Thailand, China and Malaysia as well as Australia and New Zealand.

We design and develop also individual and special events for your company or your personal adventure trip.
Our groups have a maximum size of not more than 8 – 10 participants and all trips are provided with English/German speaking guides which usually speak at least one other language beside the country language we are travelling in.

You are very welcome to follow our Vodka Train Travel Channel on YouTube:

The Vodka Train is also in Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter:
More Vodka Train Twitter News

Detailed Trip Infos & Booking:

SMS Frankfurt präsentiert den Vodka Train auf iTunes und YouTube!

Laden Sie bei iTunes kostenlose Folgen des Podcasts Vodka Train von Vodka Train oder abonnieren Sie diese. Um sich einen Audio-Podcast anzuhören, fahren Sie mit der Maus über den Titel und klicken auf “Wiedergabe”. Öffnen Sie iTunes, um Podcasts zu laden und zu abonnieren.

Hier der direkte Link zu den kostenlosen Adventure Podcast auf iTunes:

Weitere Reisevideos vom Vodka Train finden Sie auch auf YouTube

Sie finden SMS Frankfurt und den Vodka Train auch in weiteren Social Media!



Alle aktuellen Adventure Tours finden Sie auf unserer Website:

SMS Frankfurt | Events Incentives Adventures
Burgfriedenstrasse 17 | D-60489 Frankfurt am Main

Irreführung und arglistige Täuschung mit Einträgen im Gelben Branchenbuch und Gewerbeauskunft-Zentrale!

VORSICHT bei Briefen und Emails mit “angeblichen” Angeboten zu Gewerbeeinträgen im Gelben Branchenbuch / Gewerbeauskunft-Zentrale.
Im Anhang befinden sich “Angebote” die sehr zum Verwechseln ähnlich sind mit Rechnungen und wohl auch genau diesen Anschein erwecken sollen.

Zur Zeit gehen wieder Massen-Emails und Briefsendungen an Betriebe in Deutschland um in welchen man aufgefordert wird seine “bestellten” Firmeneinträge zu überprüfen und zurückzusenden.
Hiermit wird dann auch die anhängende “Rechnung” bzw. das sogenannte Angebot wirksam.
Bei der Gestaltung des sogenannten Angebotes und der Rechnung werden diese vorsätzlich dem Erscheinungsbild der offiziellen “Gelben Seiten” angeglichen sodass der Eindruck entstehen kann dies sein ein Angebot/Rechnung der Gelben Seiten.

Bei diesem Vorgehen gibt sich das “Gelbe Branchenbuch” noch nicht einmal besonders viel Mühe bei Ihren Recherchen.
So haben wir alleine drei verschiedene “Angebote”/Rechnungen erhalten, welche nicht das Geringste mit unserem Gewerbe oder Firmennamen zu tun haben.
Zumindest dies hilft beim Vermeiden von flüchtig zurückgesendeten Bestätigungen/Auftragserteilungen und den daraus resultierenden bösen Überraschungen.

Alle Verträge sind jeweils immer gleich für zwei (2) Jahre abgeschlossen und dazu nicht gerade sehr günstig!!!
Also Vorsicht bei allen Werbemails und Zusendungen welche den Gelben Seiten zum Verwechseln ähnlich sehen!

Am Besten diese Werbe-Emails als Spam melden oder direkt an die örtlichen Verbraucherschutzorganisationen uvm. weitergeben! Da es sich bei den Emails in der Regel um unaufgeforderte Werbe-Emails handelt, kann man hier in jedem Falle gegen das Spamming vorgehen.

RECHTSHILFE UND BERATUNG bei der Abzocke durch das Gelbes Branchenbuch, Gewerbeauskunft-Zentrale und ähnliche Vertreter dieser Branche!

The Elbrus Experience | Climbing Tours
Europe’s Rooftop – Elbrus Summit 5642 M

My climbing adventure began with booking my expedition to Russia, which entailed finding a climbing guide, securing flights to the region, obtaining a VISA, assembling my gear/clothing list and sorting other minor details. I took a Russian roulette gamble with a low priced tour operator in Moscow via the internet that would provide a guide for the week, a local hotel in the village, all meals on the mountain, guided training climbs, lift passes to the barrel huts, barrel hut lodging and a pre-arranged 3 hour airport pickup ride to the region. A brilliant deal for 600 Euros assuming all would be delivered as promised. Equipment and certain outerwear could be rented on site but I took my own.

The actual journey commenced with a Moscow-bound evening flight from Frankfurt followed by a short overnight stay followed by an early morning flight to Mineralnye Vody (Mineral Water). This second leg provided an interesting experience of cultural and technological impressions. It was the oldest jet I had ever flown on and I have been flying for over 20 years. The Tu-154 tri-engine commercial plane was a Soviet-built special from the early 1970s. It was a vintage gem and hard to believe it was still aloft in 2010. Upon landing, the engine air reverse braking procedure was so loud it sent the decibel level in the cabin off the scale like a rocket taking off. Flight attendants spoke no English prompting frequent exchange of smiles and a need for me to exercise my limited knowledge of the Russian language. Evidently the only non-Russian on the plane, I found the other passengers’ blatant disregard of normal conventions entertaining – they were already standing in the aisles during the aircraft taxi to the gate. Only domestic Russian flights come here, so the tarmac was filled with the same 3-engine birds displaying their interestingly varied and dated exterior color schemes. We landed in an airport strikingly preserved in time with pure Soviet-era architecture.

Mount Elbrus the day before the climb

My guide Vladimir and another client, my soon to be climbing partner, Sergey met me at the airport in a small taxi that paralleled the age of the plane. A handful of English words were exchanged which was enough to rough through the basics for the drive. Choice heavy metal tunes blared during the rural ride to the Elbrus region. Large Soviet-style concrete block buildings dotted the landscape along the way. Even though extinct, the multi-decade Regime left a lasting impression and its presence could still be felt. Cultural immersion was at a high level. In contrast, our relaxed climber’s combined patience made for a comforting and welcome experience.

We arrived in the town of Terskol at a height of 2200 M after 3 hours and the first sighting of Elbrus was possible, set against a backdrop of crystal-clear blue sky. Two massive snow-covered cone-shaped mountains contrasted majestically with the foreground of pure rocky mountains. There’s an immediate gut-pulling urge, and a realization that all of the challenges of logistics planning to get here are already starting to pay off. The summit appeared so close, but as every true alpinist appreciates, distances are deceiving and would know that it is a very long way to the top. Although this town, the traditional starting point for the summit, is seasonably full of tourists, very few foreign visitors are to be seen. Russians, on the other hand, flock here for hiking, spas, exposure to nature and being in the mountains. In selecting this trip, I had hoped to gain knowledge of an interesting culture, immerse myself in a week of adventure and be challenged by plenty of solid alpine experiences. Some of my wishes were already being fulfilled.

The Elbrus region is in the Russian heartland and has a welcome detachment from mainstream modern society, providing a silent but real Wild West feeling.  Many carry guns for safety although they are hidden demonstrating one of many examples of their refusal to conform to rules. Obeying traffic laws appears somewhat optional. Cows and other farm animals run wild in the streets. Older people rarely smile. Almost no one speaks English which limits conversation but the lack of redundant idle chat opens doors for ingenuity and the practice of communication skills using body language. In the first 12 hours, I would not cross paths with one foreigner and a feeling of an apparently pure, indigenous society is manifested. As a non-native, I welcomed the sensation of being the odd man out.

I awoke Sunday morning in my clean 3-star hotel surrounded by an unspoiled landscape. I was learning many new Russian words and teaching lots of English. A great scenic hike to the local waterfall and back with swimming allowed for some acclimatization to the 3000 M elevation. An undemanding day was planned to ease into the week. At local restaurants, meat is cooked outside on open wood burning fires and served on a metal skewer. The variety of new foods expands the taste experience and the traditional cooking methods flavor the food to an exotic high.

Monday morning, we headed down to breakfast and placed our order through finger pointing and basic translations from Sergey. The waitress took down a nice list of food and drink items we selected from the menu in Cyrillic lettering. Fresh milk straight from the cow is brought out right away. I am all set. Warm food is ordered and coming! I am ready to satiate my significant first hunger of the day. The waitress returns to the table to tell us that city gas is shut off and that nothing is available. A big disappointment sets in. How can I get physically ready without any prepared food? Later we find out the gas is turned on and hot food will be available. Life is good again.

We then proceed to pack up for our trip to the barrel huts at 3700 M. The effort is not insignificant as we have many items and strangely, leaving items at the hotel is impossible. We proceed to the lift via taxi only a few kilometers away and found the lifts to be closed because the city electricity is shut down. There was no telling when the lifts would re-open.  Many climbers were waiting around again indicating the unreliability of utilities.  Vladimir summoned a truck with a quick cell phone call. It was clear that the sure way up that day would be by driving. An old, large, green, Russian army personal carrier appeared – another aged classic from an unknown past. An adventure was in store and none of us questioned it by quickly hopping into the truck bed with many other climbers to ascend the steep, rough dirt road to the barrel huts. This would push the truck to it limits with about 10 of us in the back. Frequently stalling because of oil-fouled spark plugs, we were forced to stop to remove and clean the plugs. At times, the vehicle would waste time and fuel by making lengthy and unsuccessful attempts to ascend sections too steep with our total weight. We would have to off load to reduce weight allowing the vehicle to negotiate these steep parts. We did eventually make it close to the barrel huts only to find that a further hike, with all of our gear, of another 200 M was required.

Our barrel hut was a cozily heated place with two large beds on each end and a walled-off kitchen in the center. Inside it was warm at night, even though we were at 3700 M. Outside the hut, the immediate surroundings constituted a high-altitude junkyard that included old ski cable-car towers and an abandoned steel barrel hut, giving the immediate vicinity a less-than-perfect view of nature.  Large rocks were big stumbling blocks to every bathroom trip making it a small climbing and bouldering adventure. In the end, others joined our comfy little cabin of 10, pushing the sleeping capacity to the max. Our lot was a good mix of Russians, Germans and myself- the odd American. Former leaders of these countries in prior times of war would surely oppose our group bonding on such good terms.

On Tuesday we did another acclimatization climb with a crampon trek in the snow from the barrels at 3700 M, to the top of Pashtukov rocks at 4800 M.  This slow trek up and back of 1100 vertical meters took just under 5 hours. It was a somewhat exhausting experience being recently subjected to this altitude but it was ideal for training purposes.  A bad weather forecast of snow for Wednesday forced a welcome rest day pushing the summit climb to Thursday. On Wednesday, we exited our little cave and did get about for an hour of trekking around but our day was mostly spent hanging about in our small but friendly barrel with our new trekking partners and chilling out before the big day.

Our decision to go on Thursday, 9 September 2010 was made because it also was forecast as the best of the next 3 days – a clear morning and no precipitation for the critical first 8-10 hours.  We awoke at 1:30 a.m. to ready ourselves for the snow cat machine to take us to a higher position on the mountain. It was with mixed feelings that we decided to use the aid of the machine because it can be viewed as deviating from pure Mountaineering practices. Unsuccessful attempts of a summit without the aid of the machine are not uncommon with less than experienced mountaineers. Since my group had decided to make use of the cat, I had no choice. Later it would be evident that this was a smart decision. A quick cheese sandwich would be made and eaten that morning. We would then ready up with our gear. I wore nearly everything I brought for the climb, including full mountaineering boots, numerous under-layers, a full climbing soft shell, a high-tech windbreaker and more. After seeing the weather, a full sport winter jacket would go on top of these many layers. Crampons would be essential and worn for the whole trip as the surface was snow or ice the entire way.  As we started, I quickly realized that two layers on my legs plus ankle gaiters would not be enough. Later, light shell Gore-tex pants would go on as my third layer. I also utilized 3 winter knit hats of various weights and 2 hoods from my jackets at that time. I never felt over dressed at any instance above 4500 M where we spent most time that day. The temperatures were just too cold for overheating. My ultra-light mountaineering backpack served its purpose well and remained mostly empty for the majority of the climb except for a few critical items. At just after 3am, the snow cat brought us to the 4600 M point, taking about 40 minutes. The six of us made the last-minute preps and began the summit bid at about 3:45 in total darkness. “Headlamps on. Let’s go!”  My guide, Vladimir, and new climbing partners, Sergey and Mischa (Michael) and I began the day’s efforts not knowing how difficult conditions would become for our group of four. Two other German climbers from our hut (Karl and Ralf), in their upper 50’s, started with us but splintered off ahead in the first two hours, because of their age-defying fitness, solid experience and speed in a group of 2.

The second clothing problem I quickly noticed was that my good quality, fleece-lined, thermal winter gloves were not adequate to keep my hands warm. I had a second tight-fitting pair of thin liners that fit under my winter gloves. I sleeved them on during our first break. This double layer definitely helped but was still inadequate against the relentless wind and radically cold temperatures, even though my guide had approved them in days prior to the climb. We would later look back and realize how we underestimated the severity of the wind in various aspects. To warm my hands during the first half of the climb I would use a whipping technique to accelerate the blood-flow to the fingers by slapping my upper legs. I would always pass a trekking pole to the opposite hand, putting two poles in one hand and then perform the technique with the free hand and switch the process to the other side every 5 minutes or so. The frequency decreased with the use of liners but still had to be done. That biting cold pain was my indicator to initiate this process again in an attempt to ward off frostbite. It was especially inconvenient in deeper snow on the steep inclines, but it worked and so I continued. I could also feel the cold on my face and would at a point sleeve on a fairly warm neck gator over the lower half of my head, covering my mouth, but it would later restrict my oxygen intake giving a feeling of air starvation. Therefore I would have to push it down under my chin and expose my face to the biting cold but breathing was easier. This created a frustrating constant back and forth battle.

The classic way to the western summit is traversing the face of the eastern summit cone, crossing the saddle between the two and then ascending the inner west face. With trekking at this altitude around 5000 M and above, progress is slow because trying to accelerate only serves to speed up breathing to an unsustainable limit or worse, causing altitude sickness. We proceeded at our guide’s pace and abided by his directions. Our group worked well together in the difficult conditions in spite of significant communication barriers. The journey to the saddle took us 5 hours with a number of short 5-10 minute breaks. At that moment, I noticed a spaceship-style emergency refuge that you entered from the bottom. Considering our state of coldness, we were grateful for Vladimir’s decision to take a short rest there. I used the opportunity to slip on the third layer on my legs. It was also a needed break from the wind and a chance to refuel from my slushy, icy liter of caffeinated, sugar-filled cola. My guide gave me a nearly frozen Snickers bar that I slowly chewed into swallow-able chunks. Both lifted my energy level and spirits. I asked how much more there was to go. The emergency shelter keeper, in his heavily accented Russian, indicated about an hour or two, depending on one’s speed, with about 350 vertical meters to go.

Vladimir gave me a pair of extra thin shell mittens that went over the existing two layers on my hands and provided the needed final insulation layer. This was a greatly appreciated loan of spare gear that put an end to the arm-whipping warming process, hence eliminating one of my biggest concerns.

We left the shelter and braved the elements again for the remaining summit push. I was really feeling the high altitude effects of the entire cumulative effort now along with the wind, cold and freshly blown snow. There was a long, flat expanse across the saddle, followed by a significantly steep traverse on the inner face of the western cone between the two upper dormant volcano domes. We quickly experienced the deepest snowdrifts on these inclines, covering all previous tracks. The most difficult was trekking through the powder, at times to knee-deep levels, dramatically increasing the effort needed and further making the footing on the steeper sections very unstable. This was considerably slowing the journey but we marched on in the super-frozen particles.  I had never seen, in all my years in the mountains, snow in the form of tiny granular solid balls. They were the size of small pebbles. This type of snow created a substantial drag while trekking through it. You sank so easily and the unsteady, soft platform made for significantly slower going than normal. I felt like an overdressed infant learning to walk in a sea of heavy, compressed Styrofoam, while falling down and struggling to get up in the micro ice-ball soup. The process went on for an hour or so exhausting us all. We could see the peak and that was the frustrating part, as it forever seemed so far away. I was taking breaks to hunch down and catch my breath with my hands on my knees to lower my heart rate to a normal level for trekking. I have always had a great liking for snow in the mountains but this time, I had a complete loathing for the frozen white matter. It was wearing us down, like a quicksand barrier to our bitter quest for the summit. We crossed paths with our German friends, who had summited and were on their way down. They gave us a tip that a full hour remained for our ascent.  We would later find out that they were the first that day to the summit, experiencing crosswinds so strong that standing upright was impossible. They celebrated hunched down. With an hour for us to go, we pressed on digging, wading and sifting through the deep, crystallized, sugar-like substance. We finally made it to a steeper ridge positioned at a different angle leading directly to the top that had a firmer snow surface for trekking. The footing was more secure but the ascent rate was similar because the incline was even steeper.

After a 7+ hour climb at around 11:00 with the sun high in the sky, I summited. The final step to the top was one of amazing relief. The battle with the weather to the summit was won. The full effect of gale force winds and extreme cold temperatures were felt ironically under a contrastingly bright, sunny sky. This severe temperature caused frosting of even our highest tech sunglasses. A comprehensive weather website that listed temperatures at each significant altitude indicated the summit with a wind chill of -25C (-13F). This was easily the coldest wind chill temperature for any extended period, I have experienced to date. Winds howled and any bit of loose clothing flapped with a rapid whipping clap. A group of 7 to 8 Ukrainians just ahead of me, celebrated with throngs of cheers in a their wind-garbled language. They flew their blue and yellow country flag while making group photos. I watched in lightheaded amazement in the heat-sapping, freezer wind tunnel. The view of the distant horizon was unrestricted in all directions. It was truly amazing as the sky was completely clear above 4500 M with an incomplete cloud ceiling below that altitude. As the rest of my group crested the summit, I greeted them with a big heart-felt gripping handshake. We also congratulated each other with hugs, high fives and wind-muffled screams of success praising each other. Mother nature with her elements poured on the toughest fight but man’s will power would allow a couple dozen climbers to ascend that day. I would cherish the time with my 2 Russian fellow climbing partners and my guide. It would remain unforgotten. Cross-cultural bonds of friendship were being sealed with this first portion of the endeavor now completed. Having conquered this immense uphill effort, a great feeling of relief set in.

After taking a number of photos next to the small snow-swept summit monument, we began our descent. Thinking ahead and having experience of being in mountains, I knew the way down would be long and difficult in its own special way. On the firmer surfaces, the effort was certainly less than going up but the deep snow was still going to be difficult. This was especially true considering that we were now being directed to use a trekking stick in one hand and an ice axe in the other to arrest slides. We had practiced the slide arrest drill days earlier. This somewhat challenging and complex use of multiple tools combined with forward movement was another maneuver that would frustrate the mind and test the body. The ice axe is a great mountaineering tool that has many purposes but hiking down with this was of meager help because it provided very little upper body stabilization as it sank so deep into the snow when weighting it on the upper slope as was recommended. Using a single trekking pole or ice axe, it was difficult to determine the depth of each axe- or pole-plant because of the soft, deep base. This created an additional challenge, with the balancing act of just standing or general trekking in the wind. A drunken, stumbling walk began again in these soft, sinking, surface conditions.

At a point in the descent of a steep section, it became evident that all 4 of us would need to be roped together with our safety harnesses because of our quickly deteriorating ability to walk straight while traversing a complex steep slope. One slip down could mean a long tumble to the saddle with unknown results. This was a risk we wanted to be prepared for. Roping together has always been a method to arrest a climber who loses a step otherwise initiating an uncontrolled slide. We were almost all finally roped together and some adjustments had to be made. Vladimir began shouting over 12-plus meters (climber’s crevasse safety spacing) in the intense wind in very broken English through 3 hats and now 2 hoods. It was nearly impossible to understand. After numerous attempts, I fully turned around and squinted through my partially iced-up lenses, listened to and watched Vladimir yelling at me to secure myself with my ice axe in the snow where I stood. After many unsuccessful screams, I finally understood him. I quickly knelt down and jammed the handle of the axe deep into the snow and held on while Vladimir secured one of the others. It was a tense shouting period that tested our ability to operate as a team under intense circumstances. We passed and moved on.

After a long way down to the flank of the western hump, we proceeded across the saddle in the fierce winds. As hoped for, we stopped again in the space capsule refuge. In the hut, Mischa and I took a horizontal position on the floor and contemplated this situation. I was so exhausted that I had visions of over-nighting and returning in the morning, an option rejected by Vladimir. We rested for 10-15 minutes and that was a great relief from the arduous journey but not enough to recharge the batteries to get me in gear and moving again. I really did not want to get up after lying down. I pulled out the remaining slush Cola now stored in my jacket interior and polished it off while sharing the remaining 2 power bars with Vladimir. I was dead tired after trekking for over 8 hours at an average of 5000 M in some of the most hostile conditions. I knew that staying at 5300 M would not be helpful to my situation so this was an additional reason to head back to base camp. The surge of sugar and simple carbs gradually took effect. I had at that point just enough energy to get up and start on the way down. I was slowly motivated to get back vertical and to get a move on. I knew it would take many, many hours and that I would have to go slowly to get there but I would begin. Sergey and Mischa were tired but I was even more so and I would slow the pace on the return. You look out for your buddy in a team effort and it was clear that we would all go together. That is how a good climbing group operates in the mountains.

During the rest, I was shaking uncontrollably and noticing my condition, Vladimir pulled out a spare lighter jacket for himself while he immediately gave me his massive down jacket; a puffy early 1990’s-style model seen in Everest summit photos. It was a sure method for maximum heat preservation in these temperatures. For the first time since the early morning start, I actually felt un-chilled and the shivering ceased, immediately building my confidence. Outside, the sunlight was bright along with the reflective snow effect and I was concerned about my nose and the area around it burning, so I went to apply some sun block but quickly realized my lotion was a frozen white cube in a bottle. I resorted to using a less effective sun block stick in my hazy state.

Extreme weather, hypoxic conditions, and significant fatigue made for a slow and hallucinating descent. We proceeded down in the brutal windy cold weather. The next shelter would be many hours away at my slower than average pace. I remember being disoriented and so I just focused on following the group down. It was an exercise in just staying within visual distance and following in their tracks. The sheer physical exhaustion created mental delusions. In my dizzied state, I visualized rocks floating on the mountain surface. This hypnotic haze put one in a delicate state of questionable safety. If I stepped up the descent pace, I would immediately get significantly woozy and walking in a straight line was not possible so I backed off on the speed and kept it within my mental limits of feeling stable. A welcome benefit of descending was that, with each step, I gained a slightly higher percentage of oxygen with each breath. The day’s long efforts took its toll and I was feeling the effects. I was determined to get down before darkness came without passing out. The way was long and slow. Again I tried to speed up at times and then I would feel wobbly to the point of fainting and have to slow down.  There was a careful balance of keeping it all together in order to return safely. The expanse across the snow was vast and points in the distance took forever to reach, like a mirage, constantly keeping the same distance from you. It was just an illusion. I would eventually get there but it just took a very long time.

I finally returned our to barrel hut that afternoon before dark at about 16:45, 13 hours since we started. I was purely exhausted. It was 13 hours of brutal high altitude being on the go and dealing with so many varied challenges. Everything ached. I stumbled around the barrel unpacking my gear and mentally re-enacting the long day’s journey to the summit and back. I was greatly thankful that I returned with only minor frostbite on one finger, my nose and one cheek. Even though sun protection was applied, the small area of my face that was exposed was sun burnt, wind-seared and frostbitten. Body aches were head to toe and I basically stayed awake long enough to have dinner with the group. I then went to sleep at around 20:00 and remained in bed until 7:00 the next morning. It was the longest span of continuous exercise within one day, in some of the most inhospitable conditions that I had endured to date. The accomplishment was huge and could not be fully comprehended, as we had not expected it to be a challenge of this nature or severity. All of us under-estimated the difficulty and duration of climb.  I disliked the unexpected and significant suffering we had to endure, but this produced the surprising reward of a colossal achievement in a situation that would be difficult to describe in words. We overcame the numerous obstacles and beat Mother Nature. We won and conquered one of the seven highest continental summits, the immense Elbrus! We made it to the highest peak in Europe and in Russia. The feeling of success was profound and the reward immense!

For many days after the climb, I experienced a feeling of being thoroughly wasted and for the first time in years took off almost a week from any serious exercise.  The long, strenuous journey, the week of mountaineering and reduced diet at altitude robbed each one of us of at least 2 kilograms (4.5 lbs) in body weight. We immediately noticed this when getting back into our non-elastic waistline pants at the hotel. Cold temperatures are not uncommon on Elbrus but we happened to experience a difficult combination of temperature lows and extreme winds. Some strong climbers prefer to attack Elbrus in the more traditional method during March or April by skiing or snowboarding down which of course includes a more difficult ascent with all the extra weight.

We returned to town and went to a nice restaurant to celebrate with some excellent Russian beer and classic cooked meat on the open fire.  Elbrus completion certificates were distributed as photos with big, proud smiles were taken. Later that evening we partied more with a Russian Banya (Sauna) including shots of Vodka and chasers of red peppers, a common tradition. The culmination of the hard work of the entire week was this awesome meal and special event!

A significant terrorist car bomb exploded in the Ossetian city of Vladikavkaz on the day of our climb only 200 kilometers away killing 16 and injuring over 100. This made Russian but not international news. Road security checkpoints increased four-fold with abundant police, soldiers, machine guns and even a military tank on our return to the airport two days later.  It is somewhat indicative of journeying in this region, that you never know what adventure is in store over the next mountain.

The entire experience allowed for great cultural encounters. Expectations were exceeded and the promises of my “Elbrus-Tours” operator were all delivered. Despite the challenges of the weather on our summit day, I did greatly enjoy the week overall and established some new friendships with the Russians and Germans in our hut. Our time spent acclimatizing and doing preparation climbs together was excellent. The weather, the people and the food in this Muslim ski mountain town were brilliant.  If you are looking for pure adventure, a seemingly unending one-day endurance climb, unforeseen challenges, explosive excitement, unpredictability of the elements, deep immersion in Russian culture and a visit to place unspoiled by globalization, then the Elbrus Experience awaits you.
   – written by John Wutzer / photos John Wutzer

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Global Adventure- and Trekking Tours – Hunting and Fishing in Russia and Centra Asia
by SMS-Frankfurt