Susan's Blog

Blog

Pain is Temporary

Pain is temporary; the summit can make us extremely happy! Finally, we reached the summit of Mt. Elbrus together, 18,481′, highest mountain in Russia and the continent of Europe, achieving the second of our Seven Summits, in the summer of 1993.

Elbrus Summit Bids

After climbing throughout the night and into the morning awhile back, here was our team’s final route to the summit of Mt. Elbrus. Very exciting, lots of climbers led by International Mountain Guides reached the summit this week!

Pain Can Work

Pain can work. After sleeping in the hut at over 13,500’, we woke up at midnight and had a 5,000 foot day to climb to the summit of Mt. Elbrus. Here was Phil’s response: “Once or twice a year Sue used her hard-earned vacation days to come along. We woke up in the sleeping hut the morning of our summit climb and Sue felt completely trashed. Her head was pounding and she didn’t think she could move. I’d suggested she stay at the hut. We were going for the experience, not for the summit, and I only wanted her climbing if it was going to be fun. But Sue had said, “Well, I can stay here and feel like crap or I can climb and feel like crap. If I’m going to feel like crap I might as well go.” After a little bit of climbing she had begun to feel better, which hadn’t surprised me. Sometimes movement is the best medicine for altitude ills.”

High Camp on Elbrus, Russia

After a few days of acclimatizing, training and making practice climbs in the Caucasus we set out to climb to the hut on Mt. Elbrus. The summit of Elbrus is 18,481’, the hut where we would sleep was approximately 13,500’. Almost there and felt fine until the middle of the night!

We Don’t Climb Mountains Alone

Phil, my husband, was our leader on Mt. Elbrus in Russia and Igor, his partner and friend, was our Russian guide. The first few days preparing for our attempt on Elbrus we spent time acclimatizing and training in the Caucasus Mountains. Amazing how expert guides can teach us strong skills and techniques that help us reach the summit and keep us as safe as possible. Honestly, we don’t climb high mountains alone!

Mt. Elbrus Season

Oh my how time flies, the second Seven Summit of my dreams with Phil was Mt. Elbrus in Russia, highest mountain in Europe. Lots of climbers are heading over to Russia now to climb Elbrus, wishing them all the best. We started our Elbrus adventure together 24 years ago. One great way to start the expedition is an acclimatization hike just prior to the climb, so standing on this rock in Russia worked!

Everest Summit

Today, May 16, 2002, at 10:20 a.m. Phil and I stood on the Top of the World Together! 29,035’ above sea-level on the summit of Mount Everest. What’s next?

The Geneva Spur


Today on May 15th, 15 years ago, Phil and I were near the top of the Geneva Spur heading up to the South Col. So hoping this would lead to success!

How Teamwork Helped Us Survive a Windstorm on Everest

You can endure extreme environments when you have a team you trust. In this video, you’ll see me at Camp 2 on Mount Everest, bunkered down with extreme wind blowing down the mountain and all around us.

This is an excerpt from the book that I wrote with my husband Phil, Together on Top of the World.

“Camp 2 is advanced base camp, so a lot of tents were set up there: a cook tent, a storage tent, tents for guides and Sherpas, a tent for me and Sue…We were just settling into our own tent…

The next morning, despite the forecast, we woke up to good weather… then, fierce wind higher up had made it impossible to climb. With this second warning, we took down the tents of climbers who were not currently at Camp 2 and put additional guy lines on all the others. I took some comfort from the fact that there were a lot of us in camp to tie things down if the wind turned out to be stronger than we expected. In early afternoon it began to blow. Sue and I hung out in our sleeping bags and talked and read. By mid-afternoon it was getting hard to hear each other over the wind. It must have been blowing at around at 60 mph. Fierce wind storms are common in the mountains but are usually short-lived, so I was surprised, as the day wore on, to feel the wind increase. In late afternoon I poked my head out the tent door. About twenty feet away our two dome tents—the cook tent and storage tent—were straining against their ties. There was no way they would make it if we didn’t fight the wind together to reinforce the guy lines.

Through the night the wind howled. Over and over we were awakened by the tent wall slapping our faces and pumice and ice battering the walls. When light came, the wind was as fierce as ever. The cook tent went down and we knew if the storage tent went, our expedition would be in a world of hurt.

Finally, around two in the afternoon the wind began to calm. When it was clear that the worst was over, I went outside to inspect the damage. Remarkably, the cook tent was the only one damaged. One of the Sherpas suggested that we use blue tarps to cover the ripped sections and we radioed Eric at base camp to send some up. Then we congratulated ourselves on our teamwork. It was only because everyone had pitched in that we hadn’t suffered potentially expedition-ending damage.”