MT ELBRUS, RUSSIA 5,642m

In June 2018, we set off to Russia for the FIFA World Cup and to attempt Mt Elbrus in Russia; the highest mountain in Europe making it also one of the Seven Summits. We were lucky enough to have one of the few female guides in the Caucasus mountains, Dasha from SnowRush take us up the mountain. After 3 acclimatisation climbs, we spent our rest day ice arrest training for our summit push, which began at midnight that evening. After a disturbed nervous sleep, we set off for the summit. Unfortunately the day before my knee had been playing up which began to effect me on our summit push. We spent hours hiking up in the dark wearing our crampons until I reached 5,100m and broke down crying as I was going so slow and Dasha had told us that we wouldn't reach the summit at a safe turn around time moving at my pace. This completely broke me. I sat there miserable and crying to myself feeling completely defeated, even more so for Brandon as he was so strong and would have been able to nail the summit without me. Thankfully it was only us on our trek with Dasha, which gave us the opportunity to stay another night on the mountain and go for the summit again!!! I knew it was going to be hard but I am not a quitter. I hobbled down the mountain and took my boots off to find blisters on both of my shins which had been bleeding in my boots as well as a swollen knee. I rested for the afternoon and got up again for a second back to back summit push. I felt stronger than ever before, my determination got me to the top. I made it to the summit before some people on their first push! I burst into tears on the summit and hugged and cried all over Brandon and Dasha. This was the hardest climb I had ever done and reminded me that climbing mountains isn't always pretty, doesn't always go to plan and can completely break you.

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© Hana Brunner