Once we settled into the hostel near Terskol we got a chance to explore the neighbouring mountains and used our few days before the climb wisely by doing some acclimatisation treks. Well that went for some of us..
The border between Russia and Georgia was situated only a few kilometres away from us and with young military men marching up and down the mountain with large backpacks and expressionless faces the ambience suddenly became quite sinister. We reached around 3000m where we took a break at a nicely situated cafe overlooking a ski lift which looked incredibly comfortable at this point in time and watched the men indulging in their famous blueberry pies, (another thing which looked very nice at this point in time) We resisted all temptations and trudged on to the summit of this small mountain.
On reaching the top we collectively decided that we deserved to take the ski lift down at a hefty (tourist) price of 3,000 Ruble (40 quid). This price didn't come as a surprise seeing as this wasn't a prime tourist destination, so any tourists that did happen to feel lazy would get a hefty penalty, however the only American (obviously no emphasis on nationality intended) in the group approached and exclaimed.. "this isn't free!!?"
The rest of the two preparation days where spent travelling to the base of Elbrus on the not so safe mini bus.