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Man travels into Russia to climb Mount Elbrus: the risk and the reward

I bowed to the mountain before starting the ascent up Mount Elbrus’ distinct south face. The beauty of the landscape mesmerized me, and I felt completely spellbound.

  • 6 months ago
  • November 15, 2023
Martín Tissera and Juan Manuel Auche journeying toward the Mount Elbrus summit in Russia | Photo courtesy of Martín Tissera Martín Tissera and Juan Manuel Auche journeying toward the Mount Elbrus summit in Russia | Photo courtesy of Martín Tissera
Journalist’s Notes
Interview subject
Martín Tissera is from Miguel Riglos, La Pampa, Argentina, and is an accomplished climber who has conquered formidable peaks worldwide. His achievements include climbing Argentina’s Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro’s Kibo in Tanzania, Europe’s El Gran Paradiso, and Mount Elbrus in Russia. Aiming for the legendary “seven summits,” he aspires to scale Everest and other global giants. Tissera, in partnership with Juan Manuel Auche, forms a dynamic team, with Tissera expressing deep gratitude for Juan Manuel’s unwavering support during their challenging ascents.
background information
 The Seven Summits challenge, conceived in the 1980s, involves scaling the highest mountains on each of Earth’s seven continents – Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America. This ambitious mountaineering goal was devised by American businessman and adventurer Richard ‘Dick’ Bass (1929-2015), a Texas oil sector millionaire with a passion for mountains and skiing, and Frank Wells (1932-1994), president of Walt Disney Company from 1984 to 1994 and a fellow ski enthusiast. The challenge initially appealed to those with substantial financial resources, like Bass, who also founded the Snowbird ski resort in Utah in 1971, and Wells, who tragically died in a helicopter crash in 1994 after skiing in Nevada. This challenge has become a prestigious goal for mountaineers worldwide, symbolizing extraordinary achievement in the climbing community. For more detailed information on the Seven Summits, visit Proyecto Viajero.

MOUNT ELBRUS, Russia – Growing up in a town with flat landscapes, images of mountains felt like a distant fantasy in my mind. Armed with an adventurous spirit, and ready to take on new challenges, I teamed up with Juan Manuel, a fellow climbing enthusiast. Together, we journeyed to southern Argentina for my first adventure in the mountains. Their majestic presence captivated and transformed me, igniting a life-changing passion.

Climbing quickly evolved from a hobby into an obsession. In February of last year, equipped with all the necessary gear, we embarked on a daring quest to conquer several of the highest summits in the world, culminating at Mount Elbrus in Russia.

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Making it to the base of Mount Elbrus in Russia

Juan Manuel and I arrived in Istanbul, Turkey in late August last year, just as planned, but an airline miscommunication caused a delay for our connecting flight to Russia. Channeling our positivity as mountaineers, we carried our backpacks and gear, roaming the streets of the city in search of accommodations. After a good night’s rest, we arose early the next day to return to the airport and make our way to our ultimate destination.

Landing in Mineralnye Vody in the Russian Caucasus, the cold night air bit at our skin. A car transported us to Terskol, a quaint little village [considered one of the most exciting places to visit in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic]. By dawn the next day, on August 28, we stood at the base of Mount Elbrus in awe.

Despite the delays we had faced while traveling, and little time for rest before the climb, the adrenaline I felt in my body compelled me forward. With a clear mind, we met up with a group at the mountain. Their warmth and kindness filled my heart with joy. I bowed to the mountain before starting the ascent up Mount Elbrus’ distinct southern face. The beauty of the landscape mesmerized me, and I felt completely spellbound.

Dressed aptly for the warm day, I began the climb under a clear sky, encircled by stunning views. When we reached about 3,400 meters, a magnificent waterfall and lake sprawled out before us.

Facing hostile weather on the way to the summit of Mount Elbrus

On the south face of Mount Elbrus, we encountered the familiar ski slope which facilitated a pathway for the climb. It offered the means to connect intimately with the sights and sounds of the mountain. As we ascended higher up the mountain, the temperature began to drop. The challenging conditions tested me, but I was well-equipped.

Soon, battling winds crept in and the strain of a long day left me fatigued. When we stopped to rest, the striking contrast between the snow and the surrounding greenery felt breathtaking. Every new sensation felt completely unique, despite my experience as a climber.

The next morning, we aimed to reach the summit. Awaking at 2:00 a.m., hostile weather conditions settled over the mountain. The final and more demanding meters of the steep final ascent challenged me, but I felt determined. Through intense perseverance, I finally set foot on the summit of Mount Elbrus. This pinnacle moment – though brief – evoked memories of the training it took it to get there.

I thought of my loved ones and an overwhelming sense of joy emerged. Juan and I shared an incredible embrace, marking our victory. On September 3, we planted the flags of our hometowns in Argentina at the Elbrus summit.

Trekking the globe as a mountaineer

Soon, a storm began to approach, limiting our time at the summit to 25 minutes. We began the descent. Navigating the steep slopes with fixed ropes amid falling snow required our utmost focus and speed. Despite the biting cold, our gear provided warmth and helped us to make a swift and safe descent. Climbing Mount Elbrus is a memory I will never forget.

The journey captivated me in every way imaginable. I will cherish the memories, images, and stories for the rest of my life. Though the trip into Russia and up Mount Elbrus presented daily challenges, from planning to battling storms to making climbing decisions – we successfully tackled every obstacle. The experience strengthened my conviction that with effort and perseverance, anything is possible.

Martín and Juan triumphantly standing at the Elbrus summit | Photo courtesy of Martín Tissera

The mountain operates on its own time and as a climber, you align your timing to the mountain. With each step, you develop a synergy with nature; the mountain guides your pace and encourages you to think, reflect, and achieve.

The journey to Russia was part of a longer adventure to climb many of the world’s best peaks from Aconcagua in the Americas to Mount Kibo in Africa’s Kilimanjaro to Mount Gran Paradiso in Italy. Now, new adventures are calling. I will not stay idle for long.

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