Elbrus – 5642 m
Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe and perfectly suited to mountaineering (in the summer) or an exhilarating ski mountaineering trip (in May). It is 5642m high and located in the Caucasus mountains of Russia between the Caspian and Black Seas and is definitely quite remote.
Our primary choice of ascent is by the North route.
We don’t always run fixed date expeditions to Elbrus with our own guides, rather we put together expeditions at clients requests. This means that we can usually organise a trip to go when you want to go, and the cost of the trip is split between the participants.
Alternatively we do have set departures with our excellent local operators on the following dates:
6th July 2019
10th August 2019
Clicking on the ‘Book Now’ button opposite, will open a new tab/window in your browser and direct you to our online tour booking system. Here you can check the course dates and availability.
- Hotel twin rooms accommodation
- Guides expenses
- Guiding fees
- In resort transport
- Group transfers as per itinerary
- Mountain hut common rooms accommodation
- All the necessary permits
- All food according with program (excluding farewell dinner)
- OVIR registration
- Russian entry visa support
What's not included
- Equipment rental
- Travel insurance
- Visa Fee
- Snacks, Bottled water, beers, drinks in huts
Who is this for?
Ideally you will have some previous experience climbing/easy mountaineering using crampons. It is a relatively straight forward climb but we will be using axe, crampons and ropes for glacier and slope security.
Our Mont Blanc, Alpine Essentials or Swiss 4000ers courses are ideal preparation for climbing Elbrus.
As a skier, you should be an experienced multi-day ski mountaineer.
Accommodation and huts
What to expect from mountain huts
They are basic but comfortable. They can cater for vegetarians. Food is usually on a set menu basis (3 course in the evening, hot drink and bread/jam/cereal for breakfast). Often there is no running water and you have to buy water to drink and wash with (no showers). You can usually buy tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, chocolate bars and snacks.
Sleeping arrangements are normally dormitory style bunkbeds (eg 6 people on the bottom, 6 on the top) with blankets or duvets. No sleeping bags are needed, rather a ‘sheet sleeping bag’ should be brought. The huts provide slippers for wearing around the hut. On this course we ask the hut guardians to provide a packed lunch for the team each day.
You can expect a good atmosphere and a stunning view!
Day 1 Arrival Mineralnie Vody. Transfer 30km to Piatigorsk, Intourist hotel.
Day 2 Transfer to Hathansu meadow 2500m, 100km\3-4h . Hathansu Base Camp.
Day 3 Acclimatization to North Hut 3760m. Descent to Hathansu.
Day 4 Hike to North Hut 3760m. Instalation to the hut.
Day 5 Rest Day
Day 6 Acclimatization climb along Mt.Elbrus slopes. Night in the hut.
Day 7 Climb Mt.Elbrus West 5642m. Night in the hut.
Day 8 Reserve Day. Night in the hut.
Day 9 Descent to Hathansu 2500m. Transfer to Piatigorsk 100km\3-4h. Hotel Intourist. Piatigorsk visits.
Day 10 Transfer to airport Min. Vody, flight departure
Mountaineering is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours (typically 5-12 hours) and your training should reflect this. Although all but our summit day will (hopefully!) be less than 6 hours or so, the high altitude really takes its toll (and it feels like a longer day).
Probably the best training is going on long days hill walking as this simulates the real thing as closely as possible and prepares the mind (exercising for long periods in poor weather requires mental strength!) However not everyone has the opportunity to do this and so alternatives such as running, cycling and gym workouts are good. The focus should be on training Cardiovascular endurance and so if in the gym, cycling/running/rowing machines are much better than weight training. Try and exercise for up to a couple of hours at a time, 4 times a week. Remember to build up your workouts over time – your muscles and joints need time to build up to avoid injury.
Try and choose an activity that you enjoy and keep a note of what you do and your times – this really helps with keeping the motivation up. If you are not used to training then your local gym will be able to advise you on a plan and schedule to help you achieve your goals. Training does not work overnight!The fittest athletes train as part of their lifestyles and have been doing it for years – so you should start your training at least 6 months before the expedition.
Core strength is also very important and it really helps prevent injury and makes it easier to be comfortable carrying packs and living ‘rough’! Yoga and Pilates are excellent for this…
It is important to arrive in Nepal fit and healthy – so look after yourself before your expedition, don’t overdo the training, and don’t start a diet before you get here
– you will lose weight at altitude and will need all your strength on the mountain, so give yourself a head start and arrive in Nepal feeling strong!
The Effects of Altitude
As one climbs higher the air gets thinner and so there is less oxygen in each breath we take. The higher we go the less oxygen there is. This makes exercising much harder work than at sea level and so we have to slow down to help compensate. Because we have slowed down, we may feel colder.
Because there is less oxygen in the air as we get higher, this can lead to ‘altitude sickness’ or Acute Mountain Sickness which is like the worst hangover you have ever had (headache, nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness) and can develop into a very serious and even fatal (in extreme cases) problem.
To avoid these problems, enjoy the climbing and increase our chances of summiting we need to acclimatise by spending several days and nights at progressively higher altitudes, so our bodies can adapt. This is a very important part of our preparation.
1. Ice axe – for general mountaineering (between 50 and 70cm depending on your height)
2. Standard steel mountaineering Crampons – 12 point crampons for general mountaineering with anti-balling plates. Whether strap on or clip on models they must fit your boots well. When buying crampons bring your boots to the shop so they can fit them for you – that way you can avoid buying incompatible ones! Specialised ice climbing crampons are not necessary. We can rent you crampons.
3. Helmet – standard hard plastic climbing helmet. We can rent you a helmet.
4. Trekking Poles – optional, but useful for the training days. We can rent you walking poles.
5. Boots and Gaiters – these must fit and be comfortable. If you buy boots try and make sure they are broken in before the week. They should either be ‘plastic’ or high-end insulated leather (not fabric) and must be compatible with your crampons. Your boots should be stiff-soled (also known as B3 grade boots). If your boots are not stiff enough not only will it compromise your comfort when walking/kicking steps in hard snow but also compromise your safety as crampons are more likely to fall off or even break. When buying boots bring your crampons to the shop to make sure they fit well. You can also rent boots in Chamonix.
Gaiters are essential for keeping snow out of the top of your boots and laces away from your crampons. Boots with built in gaiters work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair.
6. Rucksack – 30-50L with a plastic liner (even just a thick bin bag) in case of rain.
7. Waterbottle 1L – not platypus type – they freeze and leak. A light weight thermo bottle for the summit day can be useful too.
8. Harness (adjustable so that it is comfortable over all your layers), 2 screw gate carabiners, belay device, 1 4ft sling.
9. sunglasses (cat 4), goggles, sun hat, Factor 50 High Mountain sunscreen, lip salve/block.
10. 3 sets of socks and light coloured thermal tops.
11. Lightweight GORE-TEX® hooded top & bottoms – make sure pockets are accessible even when wearing a harness.
12. Warm hat, thick gloves (e.g. ski gloves that are warm and waterproof) and a second pair of thin gloves.
13. Insulating layers. We suggest a thin ‘100’ weight fleece and a synthetic duvet jacket. I think a synthetic or down duvet jacket is perfect because you can put it over all your other layers (including GORE-TEX®) if it is really cold without taking anything off. This is very quick and very warm and practical. If you don’t have a down jacketthen make sure you have 1 or 2 thick fleece layers instead.
14. Trousers – there are many brands of fairly wind proof/water resistant trousers for hillwalking/mountaineering. ‘Schoeller’ fabric garments are great but there lots of other good ones too. Bring a pair of lightweight thermal leggings (longjons) too – it can be very chilly on summit day!
15. Personal first aid – blister kit, aspirin, or Paracetamol.
16. Head torch and spare batteries.
17. light weight Book/iPod for spare time in huts and earplugs (there is always someone snoring at night!)
18. Sleeping bag liner for huts (you don’t need a sleeping bag itself as blankets/duvets are provided)
19. Cash (euros) for extra drinks / snacks in huts (allow €20 per hut night but you may well not spend it!)
20. ID, Snack food, if you have an alpine membership card its worth bringing that too. You may also want to bring a small bag of your favourite tea bags as tea bags in the huts are often a bit weak.
Remember kit should be lightweight but functional – you have to carry it!
We can help with equipment rental once you arrive in Chamonix through our partners in resort.
To find out more about our course, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +33 (0)845 527 58 12.
For expeditions we take a 20% deposit to secure your place on one of our courses, we take a further 50% of the course price 4 months prior to departure and we ask for the balance to be paid 8 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Make sure that it covers glaciated mountaineering and climbing. We recommend the Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation.
Getting to Elbrus
It is best to book flights and airport transfers well in advance of your departure.
Flights are reasonably inexpensive from London to Mineralnie Vody.
You will also need to look into Visa for Russia.