Chains, we don't need no stinkin' chains!
09:56 a.m. EST Jan 18, 2004
Last year ExplorersWeb found out about a motorcycle expedition to the summit of Elbrus and thought that was pretty crazy. Just now we got wind of an expedition that put a Land Rover on top of Elbrus trumps any other vehicular assisted mountain climb, almost. And this was done by none other than the Russian Adventure teamís very own Alexander Abramov.
The birth of an idea
It was in 1996 that Abramov conceived the idea of taking a car on top of a mountain. Gradually the idea shaped out: Land Rover on top of Elbrus (by that time - and if I am not mistaken still - no car has ever reached an altitude of 5642m, and when they made it in 1997 it got into Guinness Book of World Records).
43 days to the top
After a year of hard work and a couple of test drives in the Caucasus the team of 10 people with Alex as a leader arrived in Elbrus area in August 1997. They drove the Land Rover easily up to the Barrels, 3750m, (the shelters) along the old rocky road. Above this the snow and ice began. All in all they were struggling for 43 days to get Land Rover to the very top: they were using chains on the tires and winches. The Rover kept breaking and sometimes the guys had to go down from 4800m or 5300m to get spare parts to make repairs. To speed up the descent they paraglided down a couple times.
A vacation for the expedition
On September 13th they made it - the guys drove the Rover up to the Eastern summit and made several circles on the summit plateau. They were very tired, though happy Ė so what is there to do? Why not descend and to relax a couple of days on the Black Sea, otherwise known as the Russian Riviera. So they did. But, the Rover was still on the summit and they still had to return back and get it back down.
Returning the Rover to Base Camp
In late September they returned and it was very cold. They climbed to the top and found the Land Rover right where they left it. They decided it was too icy to drive it down, so the climbers went down to fetch some chains with pins.
We donít need no stinking chains
The driver, who stayed behind was supposed to wait for the climbers to bring the gear back up to the top. For one reason or another he thought heíd be able to get the car himself. Next thing he knows the Land Rovers starts to get away from him and is barreling down Elbrus - the driver got out just in time, jumping from behind the steering wheel. The Rover continues plummeting down until it smacks up against the rocks at 5400m. One of the wheels then breaks loose, continues itís downward journey and nearly kills the climbers who went down to fetch the chains. They all lived, and the Rover is still there to this day.
Images of the Rover on Elbrus courtesy of the Russian Adventure Team Ė the final shot of what remains of the Rover was taken just recently when the Adventure Team summited Elbrus.