Elbrus – 5642 m
Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe and is perfectly suited for expedition style mountaineering from late June until end of August or an exhilarating ski touring trip in May and early June. Elbrus stands incredibly tall at 5642m altitude, rising high above its neighbouring peaks, located in the Caucasus mountains of Russia between the Caspian and Black Sea.
Our primary choice of ascent is by the North route for mountaineering and on skis we ascend via the south route.
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 Min Vody airport. Transfer 30km to Piatigorsk, Hotel accommodation. Dinner included
Day 2 Transfer to Hathansu meadow 2500m, 100km, as close as snow conditions allow (it is possible that we may have to cover a distance of 4 to 6 km on foot). Hathansu tent basecamp. Breakfast, lunch, dinner included
Day 3 Acclimatization climb to North Hut 3760m. Descend to Hathansu. Breakfast, lunch, dinner included
Day 4 Climb to North Hut 3760m. Instalation to the hut. Breakfast, lunch, dinner included
Day 5 Acclimatization climb along Mt.Elbrus slopes. Night back in the North Hut. Breakfast, lunch, dinner included
Day 6 Climb Mt.Elbrus West 5642m. Night back in the North Hut. Breakfast, lunch, dinner included
Day 7 Extra day for weather. North Hut. Breakfast, lunch, dinner included
Day 8 Descent to Hathansu meadow 2500m (again, it is possible that we may have to cover a distance of 4 to 6 km on foot). Transfer back to Piatigorsk, 100km. Hotel accommodation and time to visit Piatigorsk. Breakfast, lunch included
Day 9 Transfer to airport Min Vody for flight departures. Breakfast included
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 Russia 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 Russia 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. 3. Helmet – standard hard plastic climbing helmet.
4. Trekking Poles – Foldable
5. Mountaineering B3 Boots and Gaiters
6. Rucksack – Mountaineering specific 30-40L
7. Water bottles up to 2L
8. Harness (adjustable so that it is comfortable over all your layers), with 2 screw gate carabiners.
9. Sun protection including: sunglasses (category 4), goggles, sun hat, Factor 30-50 High Mountain sunscreen, lip salve/block.
10. 3 sets of socks and thermal tops.
11. Lightweight (GORE-TEX® or similar) hardshell hooded top and bottoms
12. Warm hat and 2 pairs of gloves. One pair should be warm, thick mountaineering gloves suitable for conditions at 5000m. The second pair should be a thinner pair that is suitable for mid mountain conditions.
13. Insulating layers. We suggest a thin lightweight fleece and a synthetic or down jacket.
14. Mountaineering trousers
15. Personal first aid – blister kit, aspirin, or Paracetamol.
16. Head torch and spare batteries.
18. Sleeping bag silk liner (you don’t need a sleeping bag itself as blankets/duvets are provided in the huts)
19. Cash for extra drinks / snacks in huts as well as any costs not included in the course price
Please note this is a guide and you may be required to rent or purchase last minute equipment on arrival dependent on the weather and changes in itinerary.
To find out more about our course, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +44 (0)845 527 58 12.
For expeditions we take a 30% deposit to secure your place on one of our courses, and we ask for the full balance to be paid 10 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Getting to Elbrus
It is best to book flights and airport transfers well in advance of your departure.
Flights are reasonably inexpensive from European airports like London and Geneva to Mineralnie Vody. If you need any assistance searching for flights just let us know.