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An American Climbing with Russians - the watermelon dinner
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May 18, 2004 01: 54 EST
Dave from team ExWeb decided he'd do his first Everest climb with a team of Russians. It was cheap (10 grand) and we knew chief Abramov well from his climbs on Elbrus (the Land Rover) and Everest last year (the fresh goat BC suppers). So far, it has been another great Abramov experience. And Dave is using Contact 2.0 to send back video and dispatches straight from it (check out "Just to get by" WebTV). This is Dave's latest:

"While we were in Xigur we ran across the Russians from our team and the National team (Everest North Face ed.note). They told us to come over for some watermelon when we got back, they had bought one in Xigur.

Well, we stopped by after dinner and Dimitri said, "Where have you guys been?" So we sat down, they had been waiting to cut the watermelon. Then I told Luda about my pain and if she had the medication, that I had not brought it from Base Camp.

Well, she didn't have it, but when her husband Yuri (Koshelenko - you know the Golden Ice axe winner) came over for watermelon she asked him, and he walked back to his room to get me not only the medicine, but also a tea that is especially good for the liver.

I must say, that I feel bad. In the beginning, before I had met the team and the Russians I had this mentality from listening to others about how the Russians were fatalistic, that I'd be on my own up high. And when I mentioned the team I was climbing with to other veterans, etc. . . They kind of rolled their eyes, like, good luck kid.

I feel bad, because I couldn't imagine climbing with a better group of people, and today is just another example. None other than Yuri Koshelenko, preparing me tea to help with my problem, and giving me his medicine. As it turns out he's got a similar pain, but it hasn't stopped him from doing some amazing climbs, he's a Russian hero now.

These guys have been great and my previously unfounded views of climbing with Russians had changed. I know that should anything happen, these guys would be there to help. And Alex's budget expeditions, it's going to put a dent not only in people's perceptions, but also into the bigger fish out there. Already we have had members from other expeditions, who have paid more than double, come over to our Base Camp setup and kick themselves in the butt.

Anything can happen, but Marshall and I keep talking about how we luckily fell into this team. And when the other climbers come by and say, "You guys have a generator?" or "They've got sleeping bags in Camp III for you?" we kind of smugly smile. Granted, this expedition is a long ways from over and many, many things can happen or change - to this point, we've been more than impressed by Alex's operation.

The Russians know how to have a good time too. Today they bought four fish, went to a restaurant, and Victor helped the chef prepare - we saw the pictures when we were over there being treated to watermelon and After 8 mints.

Yuri said the mints came from the Mountain Fox. This is a Russian tradition - I guess you are supposed to take some food up the mountain with you and then bring it down the mountain to eat. It turns into a gift from the Mountain Fox. These particular After 8 diner mints had been carried to 7500m by Yuri himself. That's it for now, I just was sincerely impressed tonight and grateful for the generosity shown to us.


The Russian Adventure team has recently been on trips to Elbrus and Ararat, over in Turkey. They also ran a successful Everest expedition last year and are running another trip again this year to the big E. This time, Dave D'Angelo, a first time Everest climber from team ExWeb is with them.

Ludmila "Ludi" Koshelenko, the teams BC chef (who bought aprons and over sleeves for the BC cooks in China) is Yuri Koshelenko's wife, and coming with the team to Base Camp to meet her husband. Yuri is climbing the new route on the Everest North Face with the Russian National team and also joined Babanov in their first ascent of the former highest unclimbed mountain in the world – Nuptse East, 7804m last year.

Image of the Watermelon Dinner, courtesy of Dave.

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