On May 2nd, clear skies and a beautiful sunrise showered Azau with light just minutes before the start. 17 teams (two skiers per team) started up the initial climb of 1,500 meters, clearly there is no time for messing around on Elbrus. Veronika and Johanna set off with a conservative pace and came into checkpoint 1 (CP 1) in fourth place overall. Looking and feeling good, they started the descent to CP 2 at the waterfall, where they transitioned and started the unrelenting climb to the summit. One of the most daunting characteristics of Elbrus is that from wherever you are on the treeless volcano, you can see the summit looming thousands of meters above. With the goal in sight, Veronika and Johanna continued pushing up the mountain.
Spandex race suits, lightweight gear, race bibs; the racers didn't exactly fit in with the other mountaineers that were in full down suits. But once again, the mountain was delivering perfect conditions and the racers were able to stay warm with race suits and lightweight layers on top as they continued moving. Up to 5,000 meters, Veronika and Johanna sustained a strong pace, trying to only stop once or twice an hour to eat. But at the saddle, Johanna was really having to dig deep to keep moving, and took a break at the checkpoint to eat, drink, and talk with the volunteer doctor.