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Mount Everest: An American climbing with Russians
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Apr 22, 2004 13: 02 EST
We have followed the western commercial outfits for years now, but what is it like to buy in on a Russian Everest expedition? It's cheap for sure (10 grand) but what do you get? Dave from ExplorersWeb has this to report:

"Strangely enough it didn't feel that weird giving some Russian I just met in person several thousand dollars. It actually feels good, especially after carrying it around for 11 days. You can look at it this way, I got a really snazzy jacket out of the deal! (pic)

Alex, our leader, is great. For one, he is a great climber - in 1991 he won the Russian Championship for a technical winter ascent, in 1999 he received one silver and two bronzes in the Championship. He's also a master of the sport of mountaineering. In the old USSR, climbers had a passport-like book where all their climbs were logged. After a certain number of climbs you become a master - it's not unlike a master in chess. Basically, he's a badass.

Anyways, besides being a great climber, he's also got a great demeanor. While he is very laid back and easygoing, he also makes things happen. This combination is great to have in an expedition leader as his confident and calm manner really rubs off on the rest of us, inspiring confidence. For example, after the drive from Kathmandu we transferred all of our equipment to a different truck after crossing the boarder. We realized that the lead-acid batteries leaked all over a bunch of a equipment. Without as much as a curse or much fanfare Alex started to clean up the battery acid which was all over the barrel and some of the stuff that was in it. Others in the team chipped in and brought over water to help with the effort, while others helped continue to load the truck. It could have easily been a big deal and something to stress about, but it wasn't.

Alex and I chatted about his climbing experience and he quickly lit up a smoke. I asked him about his smoking and if he does it while he climbs; his reply, 'I climb because I smoke." He's hilarious at times.

Another Russian team member walked by and soon the two started discussing in depth the design for our deluxe toilet. Giorgio and Gianni, the two Italians then walked by and I left Alex and Aktur (I will probably butcher these names for the first couple of weeks) to join them for a stroll. They were actively looking for a good espresso. Marshall, the other American is a great guy (Ed note: check his report to FortMorgan Times in the link), as are the Italians, and the rest of the Russians. Everybody's in good spirits and enjoying each others company so far. A good start - there's a positive feeling within the group, everyone is really friendly. Alex is making sure that we aren't rushed and become properly acclimatized."

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 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 Dave's climbing fee and new jacket, live over Contact 2.0 from Kathmadu last week, ExplorersWeb.

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