Onward and upward - to the Elbrus!
How fast can you run a kilometer? According to Russian regulations, a person who enters the contract service in the army must beat it in 4 minutes 20 seconds. Students - in 3 minutes 55 seconds. Masters of Sports in Athletics - in 2 minutes 21 seconds. And what would you say about a person who spent 43 minutes and 14.6 seconds to beat this distance? That they set the Vertical Kilometer speed record on the slopes of Elbrus!
Mount Elbrus (5642 m above sea level) is the highest peak not only in Russia, but in Europe, and its slopes are constantly being stormed by fans of extreme sports. It's no surprise that large extreme sports festivals which gather mountain climbers, skiers, skyrunners and multisportmen from all over the world are held in the Elbrus region.
Red Fox Elbrus Race is held here in early May - this is an international festival established in 2008. It's supported by the Russian Mountaineering Federation. Competitions include several disciplines: high-speed ascent to the Western peak of Elbrus, Vertical Kilometer (1000 meter race from the Azau meadow at an altitude of 2,450 meters to the Mir station at 3,450 meters), ski mountaineering and snowshoeing.
But no one guarantees the weather is going to be good: May is one of the most difficult months in the mountains. Often, while people who live on plain terrains enjoy the spring sun and the first greenery, climbers fall into the still not melting snow or spend days in a tent under the coveted peak, waiting for the storm to end.
This year, 300 athletes from 15 countries, including not only Russians and Europeans, but also residents of North and South America came out to compete in the Red fox Elbrus Race Vertical Kilometer. The winner was Vitaly Chernov from Russia: he ran a kilometer in 43 minutes 14.6 seconds and set a new track record. A female record remains unchanged since 2013, when Larissa Soboleva from Russia beat the Vertical Kilometer in 51 minutes and 8 seconds.
Other major competitions on the slopes of Europe's highest peak are held in September - it's the International Elbrus Race. It started in 2005 and have been held annually since. Its participants compete in two races - ascent to the Western and Eastern peaks of Elbrus. One of the race tracks is named after the famous Soviet climber Anatoly Bukreev, he climbed from Priyut-11 to the Eastern peak in unbelievable 1 hour 47 minutes, and no one can beat this record since 1990.
If you want to test yourself, you can register for the next competition on the festival's website. Obligatory condition for the participants is medical insurance for extreme sports. And don't forget about acclimatization! To get used to rarefied air, you need to come to the Elbrus region about a week before the competition and spend it actively, going on radial hikes every day.
As for equipment, you'll need strong and comfortable shoes (it is better to get the special tracking ones), three-layer clothing (thermal underwear, warm middle layer and wind-proof top). You can take tracking sticks, it will be much easier to climb with them. And don't forget your sunglasses and sunblock: the sun is rough in the mountains. For high-speed ascent to the Western peak, crampons and a safety system will also be required, and you'll need a first-aid kit and avalanche equipment for ski mountaineering (besides the skis, of course).