At 5,642m (18,510 feet), despite some conflicting views regarding definition of regions, Elbrus is considered the highest mountain in Europe and the fifth highest of the Seven Summits.
Elbrus is an inactive volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range in South Russia, close to the border with Georgia. The area has been politically unstable for several years and has heavy Russian military presence. The mountain has two almost identical peaks: the 5,642m west and a 5,621m east summit.
The western summit of the mountain was first climbed in 1874 by an English expedition led by F. Crauford Grove.
Today, there are two main routes to the west summit, the normal route from the south and a much more precarious route from the north. Elbrus is not technically difficult but notorious for its brutal winter weather, including strong winds and crevasses, which lead to 15-30 deaths every season – mostly on the north route.
Last year gave me dozens of opportunities to relive my journey to the top of the world through motivational presentations at schools, universities / business schools and companies primarily across Europe and the Middle East, including at great companies such as Accenture, HP, McKinsey & Company, Danone and Dubizzle.
I spoke to audiences of various sizes, ages and cultural backgrounds about how many of the challenges we face on high altitude expeditions are very similar to the challenges that we encounter in our daily private and professional lives and therefore, how many of the ways in we address those challenges on the mountains are also relevant at sea-level.
As a businessman and mountaineer, I use the journey to address various topics relevant to businesses from encouraging ambition and setting goals for sales teams, to improving teamwork within and across departments as well as addressing topics such as dealing with constantly changing operating environments.
My most memorable experience from the past year was one young lady who came up to me post-presentation explaining that she suffered from ADD and has struggled to focus for periods longer than a few minutes for most of her life, however, my story had kept her engaged for almost two hours.
It gave me an amazing feeling…almost like the one I felt standing on top of the world
Today’s the first anniversary of my Seven Summits – climbing the highest mountains of every continent as the first person from my native Finland.
The “Seven Summits” –term was coined by Richard Bass, an American climber, who became the first to climb the mountains in 1985.
- Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m) in Tanzania
- Antarctica: Vinson Massif (4897m)
- Asia: Mount Everest (8850m) in Nepal
- Australia: Mount Kosciuszko (2228m) in Australia
- Europe: Mount Elbrus (5642m) in Russia
- North America: Denali (6194m) in USA
- South Africa: Cerro Aconcagua (6962m) in Argentina
A year later, legendary Italian mountaineer, Reinhold Messner, also climbed the Seven Summits, but instead of climbing Mount Kosciuszco in mainland Australia, he felt that the highest mountain for Australian continent should be Carstensz Pyramid (4884m), which stands in the middle of the jungle on the island of Papua in Indonesia.
There mountaineering community remains split regarding which one is the correct mountain for Australia, so both views are accepted and referred to as the Bass and Messner Seven Summits Lists.
To date, roughly 350 people globally have climbed the Seven Summits. I’m one of around 100 people that have climbed both Bass and Messner Seven Summits Lists, so there’s no room for dispute
My Seven Summits project was an amazing experience. It started ten years ago in Africa, although at that time I viewed climbing Kilimanjaro simply as a mountain climb, not the start of a big project. Over the years, my climbs took me around the world to interesting places and finally on June 22nd, 2012 I completed the project by summiting Denali in
It was an amazing feeling to complete a project that required years of focus and dedication, but also led to a feeling of what’s next and a desire for another big project. I’ll tell you more about what that ill be later!
Check out the latest edition of the Official Arsenal Magazine for a “Summit Special” – a story regarding my relationship with Arsenal and the journey of two Arsenal flags on my Seven Summits project.
One of the flags accompanied me to the summit of Vinson Massif on Antarctica, the highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent on earth, as well as to the summit of Cerro Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. The other followed me to the top of the world, the summit of Mount Everest in Nepal, as well as to the summit of Denali / Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America.
The flags will be auctioned for the Arsenal Foundation at the Charity Ball towards the end of the season. If you’re interested in bidding for these unique items, please contact the Editor of the magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The leading Finnish outdoor magazine, Retki, which basically means “trip” or “journey” recently published a story regarding my Seven Summits journey titled “Snowman and the Seven Giants” in the theme of snow white and the seven dwarfs.
I’m obviously not much of a snow white, but the article is great and if you’re a Finnish speaker and haven’t had a chance to pick up the magazine, then you can see the article here.
I just finished offsetting the last of my Seven Summits project’s travel related carbon dioxide emissions.
My First Finnish Seven Summits project took me to all seven continents over a period of several years, although the last five mountains were climbed during a period of just 13 months.
The project was a great experience and I would recommend everyone to take advantage of the numerous beautiful places on this planet. However, I would also encourage everyone to also be considerate to the negative aspects of travel and in particular the carbon dioxide emissions.
In order to continue exploring the world with a clear conscience, I wanted to offset the carbon dioxide emissions related to my travel and would encourage others to do the same, so that we can continue to admire the natural beauty around us.
In order to complete my project, I had to take 46 flights and cover approximately 137,453 miles in a combination of planes and helicopters. I’ve now offset the emissions related to these flights by making a donation to Carbonfund.org Foundation, which will invest the money in projects creating 26.51 tonnes of carbon offsets.
Buying the carbon offsets is easy as there are a lot of companies offering the service to both companies and individuals. Figuring out your carbon dioxide emissions is a bit trickier, but fortunately most carbon offset companies provide calculators enabling individuals to calculate their carbon dioxide emissions for example related to driving, flying, living etc.
My First Finnish Seven Summits project was recognised tonight as the Outdoor Achievement of the Year in Finland.
The selection decision was announced at the Helsinki Adventure Night event in central Helsinki, which is quickly becoming the must-attend event of the Finnish outdoor scene.
The award was a great honour and recognition both for Finnish mountaineering as a sport as well as my project, which has taken my full focus for the last 12 months, so it was a great feeling to be recognised!
We got up early and headed to the Red Square to see Lenin’s Mausoleum, which by this time, had become almost an obsession to us. We arrived 15 mins before the opening and still had to wait in a queue for 75 mins before getting in.
Lenin’s embalmed body looked like something out of Madame Tussaud’s, causing Delanii to giggle and get stern stares from the Russian military guards on duty everywhere around the exhibit. The combination of no cameras allowed and heavy security presence meant no pictures!
In the evening, we caught an Emirates Airlines flight back home to Dubai, falling asleep in the plane thinking about what mountain we should target next.
The group started dispersing in the morning. We have two more days in Moscow, so Delanii and I headed to see the Kremlin with Dan and Rob, before they caught an afternoon flight home.
We missed out on Lenin’s tomb (Lenin’s Mausoleum), which is closed on Friday’s, so Delanii and I just soaked up Moscow’s atmosphere and grabbed an early dinner at the hotel – still feeling the effects of the last ten days in our legs.
After breakfast, we made the four-hour drive back to Mineralnye Vodi for an Aeroflot flight back to Moscow.
A teammate, who’d already had his fair share of bad luck with AMS, began to suffer from an infected tooth, so once in Moscow, we dropped him off to a dentist and he joined us at the hotel later – missing a tooth.
I felt very good after yesterday’s successful summit day! The feeling got even better when we descended off the mountain and checked into a small hotel offering luxuries, including a clean toilet, a warm shower and cold cans of Coca-Cola!
In the evening, we had a nice dinner together to celebrate the successful trip. Both of the teammates that had not joined the summit bid showed great character by joining in the celebration despite missing out on the summit.
Our Russian cook, Liza showed up in a leopard print dress and a guitar, singing Russian songs in between karaoke songs from Elena, a representative of the company handling our logistics in Russia. In the mayhem, Wilf lost his camera.