18,510 ft.
Caucasus Mountain Range
Russia
Europe

Roped together for safety on this slippery slope of ice and snow, we step slowly and deliberately as a team. Listening to the crunch of my crampons I feel the fierce winds blow open the hood of my down parka.  I cannot stop to adjust, for it will slow our team’s rhythm.

   

 
   

Mount Elbrus journal entry: August 14, 2002

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“Today marks my second attempt to begin this trek.  It is the third peak of my "Seven Summits" quest, and the first one without Dad by my side.  Last month, the night before I was to come home to visit my family and leave from there to fly to Russia, I got the call that every child dreads.  Mom had died unexpectedly and it was time to come home for a different reason.  My life fell down around me.  I canceled my climb and threw my gear bags as well as two black dresses into the car.  It has been a long sad month, but now I need to move forward.  With Dad’s encouragement, I joined another climbing team a month later, and here I am.  It all feels surreal at times.  I get wrapped up in the excitement of the moment and the adventure, then I get wrapped up in thoughts of missing my mom and leaving my dad alone.  Each step I took today helped numb the pain.  It is cold, windy, and stings the senses.  It is good to at least feel something.  So much of me feels numb with sadness.”