||Day 12 was a "free day", built into the schedule as padding for additional summit days, should the weather not cooperate. But the weather most certainly did cooperate on this trip, so we had a day off, as it were.
There were a number of possibilities -- wandering the village and shopping, napping, finding a quiet corner to read a good book. But the activity most of us decided to partake in was some ice climbing! Our guides led us back up the tram and on a dry, dusty 1-hour hike to the base of the glaciers and a spot with a number of good lines for ice climbing.
While our Russian guide, Oleg, free-climbed to the top of the glacier and secured lines, our Alpine Ascents guide, Vern, gave those of us not familiar with ice climbing a "101" lesson in how to properly use crampons and climbing axes, and how to coordinate with the belayer when climbing.
Before too long, we were taking turns on a moderate, 45-degree line, and then a more challenging 80-degree line. Everyone had a great time, although it wasn't hard to tell those who were experienced ice-climbers from those of us who were not! Still, what a great way to spend a morning.
We trekked back down to the tram station and down to the hotel just in time to avoid another soaking afternoon thunderstorm, and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying one last dinner in Terskol. Oh, and drinking -- lots of drinking (mostly vodka, of course!).