RUSSIA – A Russian mountain climber and his adventurous pet tuxedo cat have narrowly failed in their unique attempt to conquer Europe’s highest mountain together.
Andrey Ostanin and kitty pal Graf, from the city of Nizhny Tagil in central Russia’s Sverdlovsk Oblast region, ‘almost’ scaled all of Mount Elbrus.
At 5,642 meters (18,510 feet), Elbrus – which crosses the border between Southwestern Russia’s Karachay-Cherkess and Kabardino-Balkar republics – is actually the highest mountain in Europe and Russia, and the 10th highest in the world.
Mr. Ostanin explained that he decided to hike to the top of the mountain with Graf after being inspired by the story of another feline with a head for heights.
He states: ‘Once I heard a story about a cat that conquered the Himalayas, but it was a local cat that was born there. This is why I decided to make this trip together with Graf so he could become the first alpinist cat.’
The pair took their adventure quite seriously and completed a number of trial hikes so the cat could get used to the experience of climbing and the constantly changing weather.
Mr. Ostanin even bought Graf a special thermo-suit so he would not freeze and made him an insulated box to carry him in.
He was a bit worried that Graf might suffer from a lack of oxygen at higher levels but says the cat showed no signs of altitude sickness.
‘He slept very tight during the entire trip. His box was the warmest spot, I would leave my hands there for a bit when I could no longer feel them,’ he went on to say.
Mr. Ostanin added that during the coldest nights the cat would sleep right up next to him for warmth. However, Graf was not a big fan of that experience and kept trying to escape from the sleeping bag.
Despite all of their efforts and preparation, Graf’s bid to become the first cat to conquer Europe’s highest mountain failed at the last hurdle when the weather conditions suddenly deteriorated.
‘We lost a thermos and were left only with a bottle of water. It would have taken us 12 hours to get to the peak, which might have ended up in severe dehydration, so I decided against it,’ Mr. Ostanin went on to explain.
Although they may have ultimately failed in their bid to reach the summit, Mr. Ostanin decided to reward his cat with a two week holiday to a Crimean seaside resort!
What an adventure!