We solved the visa problems, the train tickets, the permits and the transfers by internet, from home. It wasn’t simple, but it was fun. A lot of researching, google-ing, asking and traveling by bus in Bucharest. Everything went fine, on the 10th of august we were ready to go.
If you want to do it like we did, this is some very good source of information for the Caucasus expeditions starting from Romania: Gorky’s Blog
We used a lot Summitpost.org, and various others sites and blogs. They were all helpful, but in the end, they weren’t enough. As it is said, never underestimate the importance of local knowledge. In Russia, you can’t be prepared for everything. In the Kabardino Balkaria province, the buffer zone for Cecenia and Daghestan, you should expect some military controls, some unexpected police stops and permits controls, for the border areas.
We were 4 in the team: Tibi, Ileana, Lucian, and I. We all knew each other from last year’s Mont Blanc expedition. Lucian got the train from Pascani, the rest of us started the journey in Bucharest. The backpacks were around 34-37 kg, as we had almost all the food for 3 weeks, and of course, all the necessary gear.
After one day of sleeping, we reached the Kiev station. From here, we had to buy tickets forward, to Mineralnie Wodi, and from there we had a bus waiting to get us to Azau, the closest village to Mount Elbrus, the top of Europe.