The highest mountain range of Europe (seven summits over 5000 m) is definitely not the Alps, but the Caucasus which goes from the Black to Caspian seas for nearly 1200km, rises at its center part to 5200 m and reaches its highest at Mt.Elbrus (5642 m).
Seven Summits peak
Nowadays some climbers have reduced climbing into a highly technical “hi-end” profession, thus getting farther and farther away from modest lovers of mountains. But Nature has more sense than that and has provided the globe with good old volcanoes where almost anyone can feel and be a Climber.
So, here is Mt.Elbrus, the highest summit of Europe.
Undoubtedly it is the most impressive and beautiful European peak. And easily accessible one.
The price for this climbing trip is far lower than for some of the famous Seven.
We feel these three points can outweight any doubt: to go or not.
Off the caravan ways
Nowadays Elbrus sees dozens of hundreds of people each season from all over the world.
99% of them do the Classic route. We run this trip, it is our staple product, but also we have much more scenic and secluded alternatives to the Classic. It is Elbrus from north and traverse from south to north.
The heart of the Greater Caucasus, the amazing cluster of five majestic peaks over 5000m called Bezengi is on our offering list as an acclimatising playground for an Elbrus climb.
For easier navigation can suggest the following ranging of our Elbrus climbs:
1. Easy technically with maximum comfort and crowds (the Classic)
2. Easy technically with less comfort (no hotels and cafes, camping instead of huts), but with a lot of wilderness and fantastic scenery, no crowds (Elbrus from north)
3. Mixed: easy technically with maximum comfort and crowds in the south and a lot of wilderness and fantastic scenery and no crowds in the north (Elbrus traverse from south to north)
The northern and southern sides of Elbrus differ strikingly. Standing 11km north of the Main Range, the mountain juts out deep into flat green pastures bounded by dry low bare peaks. Above the vast grassy Irakhitsyrt plateau (2800 -3000 m) the silver-grey tongues of the glaciers descend into the fantastic green jungle of pristine moraines adorned with red and black volcanic outcrops of incredible shapes. Cosy alluvial cirques nestle among them and the largest one, called the “air strip” (2900 m), is long and flat enough to take small planes. A hut taking 15-20 people, stands at 3800 m, at the edge of the snow fields stretching to East summit. A big advantage of the route is, that being in the wind shadow of Elbrus, this place has the benefit of better weather.
Day by day description
Arrival in Mineralnye Vody. Group transfer Mineralnye Vody - Pyatigorsk. Group transfer starts at 11.00. After checking into your hotel, we will have a mandatory climb orientation session, group dynamics and equipment check. This will be followed by a group dinner in cafe.
In the morning we board our private bus and go to the Emmanuel Meadow Base Camp (2500 m.). Depending on the state of the road, this way can take from 4 to 6hr. Emmanuel Meadow is the place of the camp of the very first Russian expedition to East Summit. There is a stone, bearing a memorial inscriptions dating back to 1829 on Emmanuel Meadow . Overnight stay in tents at the Base Camp.
Acclimatization outing to the High Camp (3800 m). We will carry some personal things and gear, that we not need in the Base Camp. On the descent we will see exotic lava outcrops and a mountain lake at 3200 m., 6-7hr. Light lunch in the High Camp, dinner in the Base Camp.
We walk to the High Camp. On the way there we make a detour and visit the local place of interest, called Gryby (“Mushrooms”) – rock outcrops of very weird shapes. The High Camp is a few huts on moraine - snow border. Overnight stay in tents at the High Camp.
For better acclimatisation we spend this day, climbing to the lower end of Lenz's Rocks, the rock range, which goes straight to East Summit. Basic level of travelling on snow and glacial terrain, self-arrest and rope handling.
Day of hte rest and preparations. A guide will tell you about ascent tactics. Рreparation of clothes and equipment for the climbing Elbrus.
Ascent to East Summit (5621 m.). We start very early. The climb and descent will take 10-14hr. We follow the line of Lents Rocks. The ascent slope is as gentle as the one on the classic route. The immense sweep of the green pastures rolling into the blue haze of the horizon to north is the main sight from the summit, breathtaking, giddy. Overnight stay at the High Camp.
In a case the climb was excluded by bad weather the previous day and no serious attempt was made. “A serious attempt” is that one which expends so much of your energy, that you just cannot go up on the next day. If we summited yesterday, we go down to Emmanuel Meadow.
If we have used the reserve day on Day 8 for climbing Elbrus, we descend to our Base Camp, board our 4WD and go back to Pyatigorsk.
30min bus drive from Pyatigorsk to Mineralnye Vody Airport.
- meeting and seeing off in the Mineralny Vody airport
- all group transfers according to the program
- accommodation in a hotel on the double room basis - 2 nights
- meals: no meals when in hotel, full board from dinner on Day 2 to breakfast on Day 9
- staff: one english speaking guide for the mountain part and extra guides on summit day (3-4 clients to one guide)
- local police registration
- luggage storage (not needed on the mountain) when climbing
- ropes for climbing
- safety measures: radio, first aid kit, registration with Rescue Service
- cooking equipment and fuel
- visa support
- return air fare to Mineralny Vody
- single accommodation supplement in a hotel
- individual car transfers
- personal equipment rentals
- extra (personal) guides and porters
- insurance (medical and other)
- any changes in the program initiated by client(s) and entailing extra expenses
- work of extra guides on second attempt on reserve day
- extra nights in hotel
- meals when staying in hotel
- down jacket
- thick fleece jacket
- thermal underwear
- waterproof breathable outdoor jacket
- shirt with long sleeves (prevents sunburns)
- thick sweater (wool or synthetics)
- fleece pants with long side zips
- wind&waterproof breathable pants with long side zips
- wool or fleece hat
- liner gloves - 2 pairs
- medium weight fleece gloves
- wool or fleece mittens
- wind-stop shell overmittens
- thick socks - 2-3 pairs
- lighter socks - 3 pairs
- light weight trekking boots, or strong sheakers
- climbing boots, plastic or strong leather (must fit in snap-on crampons)
- crampons (must fit your climbing boots), snap-on type preferable
- ice-axe (glacier walking type, not a short "tool" for ice climbing!)
- collapsible ski poles
- glacier glasses
- sit harness
- two screwgate karabiners
- down or synthetic sleeping bag good for -10C
- sleeping pad
- rucksack (40-50liters)
- 1-1.5liters thermos
- personal first aid kit
- head torch
- water bottle
- lip balm (spf 25+) and glacier cream (spf 40)
- pocket knife
At all times while in Russia you should have the following documents: valid passport with Russian visa, immigration card and Voucher (part of our two invitation papers).
For land transfers we use comfortable private minivans. To get to Emmanuel Glade it is 4WD vehicles, a bit less comfortable.
Meals are the usual European type. Lunch-packets for outings are chocolate bars, apples, juice, nuts etc.
We will change the menu on demand (as always do for Indonesian, Korean clients etc) and for vegetarians of course. If you personally want something special we will see to it.
Meals when in hotel are not included in the price. There is a lot of cafes around where you can choose from wide menues. The prices are pretty low (from 350 to 500 roubles for a good lunch=7-10USD)
3 stars in Kislovodsk (4 or 5 stars - on demand), on a double room basis. Tents are on the same basis.
Health-care on the mountain is limited to the first-aid kit the guide carries. When in Mineralny Vody and Kislovodsk in case of serious health problems the local hospital and your insurance policy are to take over. Your policy must cover climbing to 6000m.
The English speaking head-guide will look after you while in the mountains. There will be lessons of belaying on snow and cramponning at the starting point. He will get the forecast and discuss with the group the best time and tactics of the ascent. During the ascent the group will be accompanied by guides-assistants (3-4 clients to a guide), who will bring down the weakened members. A cook will listen to your specific wishes and cook for you.
As on any high mountain a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures should be expected: from freezing-cold nights (down to -5-10C), to sizzling hot noons if still and sunny (especially on snow); from a delicious calm under a blue sky to a hurricane slashing your face like a whip. The higher you go, the harsher the conditions. So, your range of clothes and footwear must comply with any of such turns. For details see out gear list.
Safety is of the highest priority for us. All the serious ourdoor activities, especially climbing, imply a certain amount of danger. The guides who will work with you on Elbrus are fully responsible for your safety, so their authority in the safety measures during the climbing is indisputable. Their decisions when climbing will be the last and decisive.
The guides will have all the necessary climbing gear, GPS navigators and radioes, mobile phones (they do work on the south side) and first-aid kits.