Today I spoke to The Mountain

All the day the weather was bad and after playing cards in the afternoon I wanted to have some sleep to save strength for tomorrow ascent. Laying in the tent and failing to fall asleep I suddenly felt strong inclination to go up right now. I followed the call of soul and went to Elbrus, two heads of which were hidden in the thick clouds. I was going to make at least an additional climb to get better accustomed to altitude, but secretly I longed for some more...

I went very fast, showing good fitness for tomorrow affair. I climbed through 'white out', seeing nothing in 10 meters around me, following the trail of other climbers. I wanted to reach the same altitude where we had cached some stuff previous day that we needed while climbing the glacier. Sometimes sky cleared for few seconds and I could see my way some hundreds meters forward. I met descending man who warned me that there is nobody up the track. So I was alone with Mountain, 800 metres above our camp and 4500 metres above sea level. I still saw nothing, neither up nor down the slope, and strong wind was blowing into my face and I wondered if it's enough for me for today. I've never been to such altitude before yesterday, neither even walked glaciers and faced such fiercy gales before.
Suddenly I got the idea to take down the equipment we left yesterday in the rocks for final climb. I thought, maybe the weather won't let us climb tomorrow. And I asked Mountain to let me come to the Pastukhov rocks and take the stuff. And in this very moment sky cleared and I saw the rocks in just 50 meters above me. I thanked Mountain and went on climbing. But when I was in few metres of the place where we had hidden the gear, the wind suddenly got much stronger, trying to kick me down the ice. Last metres were real nightmare and I felt really scared. That's it, I thought, when one gets lost in mountains, surrendering to fear and panic, stopping to resist nature's might. With much horror I escaped behind the big boulder, calmed down the breathing, donned the crampons and with shivering hands dug out our stuff, that was properly covered by snow and ice. The wind raged again and blew me literally down to earth, so I could see nothing around me, but I was not to surrender, now I knew what to do. I knelt down and prayed to Mountain, asking Her to let me go down. I said, I was neither to struggle against Her nor to invade Her. I said, I just wanted to live close to Her, listen to Her and become Her friend.
I was still on my knees when the wind died down, and sky cleared, and first time today I saw Her, looking mighty and vigorously, as though closely watching me and assessing my words. Then She hid again in the clouds but instead I clearly saw my way down! I ran down thanking Her and She showed me Her beauty again. Half way down I stopped and left sign of my appreciation of Her greatness and kindness. I left all the food, I had with, to the birds, Her friends and slaves. She looked at me again through the clouds and as I waved my hands to Her, She ultimately cleared the way for me, and I could see all my path to the camp very clearly! Tears dropped down my cheeks and I felt very happy. I am Your friend, I said to Her, and I don't want to step on Your head showing my human strenght, showing the victory of a man against the nature!
Then I felt Her touch. It was the energy of Mountain, energy that is not to be measured by any devices, not to be counted by any formulas. It was coming into me, into my body and soul. I felt myself being filled with it, getting stronger and bigger, getting more and more happy. Such moments are worth living and I have lived it!

(c) Pavel Milkin, 2003