Quite a long post, with a lot of questions embedded.
I've been following this forum for a couple months now, looking up some things on the internet etc. and I think the climbing bacteria has struck me for good now. I always liked hiking, climbing, mountainbiking, adventure camps, snowboarding, skiing. Regular summer vacations never did it for me, hanging out 14 days on the beach in Ibiza or in Turkey? Boring! What I did like were holidays with my parents, trekking in Corsica and Canyoning in Spain
I've got vacation from school till october now, and with nothing to do the next 2 months I started looking on the internet for some (guided) vacations. I also checked for example the trip to Elbrus. I know it's too late now. But is it practically possible? I've got absolutely no experience in real climbing situations. Oke i've walked 2800 meter mountains in Corsica, we go hiking in the Ardens for 7-8 hours. But 5624 meter and walking 7 days for 8 hours a day is a big difference! To reach some of the better snowboard locations in France or Austria you have to walk only ~ 700m - 2km in the snow, and then we were already exhausted and had to sit down for 10 minutes. And that's at most 3600m high. I've got one more year to do in university, and this year we got some training to apply for jobs, and one of the recurring questions (in a different form) on applications is what's one you wildest dreams, or what would you really want to accomplish in your life. On my tests that was an easy one: 3 simply words: The seven summits.
I know some people who guide groups all over the world, some collegues from my mother have climbed some of the 7 summits, even some 8000meters. But the problem is that there aren't any starters! Most of them were 30-35 years old when they started, I'm only 22. They all had experience from being a paracommando in the belgian army, went alpine climbing on european mountains etc and simply rolled in the lifestyle.
So the seven summits are the ultimate dream, but that will probably take a couple of years to complete, what can i do in the meantime and how to get the best preparation?
I can start with Kilimanjaro and Elbrus, but aren't there better alternatives?
I'm lucky that I got a pretty good job as a student in an international accounting firm, and i've worked the last 4 years in a cleaning firm during the holidays, so I saved a good amount of money, my parents can sponsor some money, I can give up some expensive hobby's and go only 1 time on ski holiday in stead of 3 of 4 times. but will that be enough for some good trips? At the moment I saved 7500€, 3 ski holidays the year costed me ~ 1500€, with some extra saving here and there i can save 3000€ a year. So i can save that for some expeditions. But will that cover the costs?
Let's do the math:
2100€ for the basic Elbrus climb and couple of hundred euro's for food, extra expenses, just to be safe, let's make that 3000€
500€ for the flight to Moscou and back
I got some descent clothes for skiing and trekking, but that's again something different! So let's say 1000€ for a complete package. With some recycling from the Ski / Hiking / Mountainbiking I already own.
That's 4500€ !!!!! For only 11 days!
Then you get all the gear for those kind of mountains, so the next ones will be cheaper. But still it's a lot of money!
~1250€ for Kilimanjaro, you'll need the flight, some more days in Kenia/Tanzania, food etc. So count again 3000€ for 10-14 days.
There goes my 7500€, on 2 trips, only 1 month! I know people who go camping and trekking in the Alps / Pyrenees / Asia for 1000€ a month ! Won't that be a better alternative and save the money for later?