Day by day description
Day 1. Arrival in Mineralny Vody
The flight from Moscow to Mineralny Vody takes 2hr. From the airport we drive for 3.5-4hr in a private minivan through plains and foothills into the deep and wooded Baksan valley, up to Cheget village, not far from the village of Terskol. Hotel.
Day 2. Acclimatization outing to Cheget
In the morning we walk to the Cheget chair-lift and ride to the Ai cafe at 2750m. The impressive north walls of Donguzorun (4400m) and Nakra (4200m) peaks are in full view on the left side. On the right one the place offers a perfect view of double headed Elbrus across the Baksan Valley. The classic route is clearly seen from here. There is one more chair-lift to a rocky shoulder (3,100m), from where we can walk a bit higher. Return to Cheget Glade, lunch in a cafe. In the evening we deel with the rental office, where take the needed personal gear. Hotel.
Day 3. Walk to assault camp
We leave in hotel our things not needed on the climb and go (20min) to Azau staion (2356m) of Elbrus cableway and its first run takes us to St. Krugozor station (3000m). From there we take a good path over screes and past a shallow lake, cross the rough part of the Greater Azau glacier, skirt the vast Khotyutau ice field and walk on snow, slowly gaining height, towards West Shoulder. We camp at its foot at 3950m. 7-8hr.
25 june - 03 july 2016
16 july - 24 july 2016
30 july - 07 august 2016
13 august - 21 august 2016
Included in the price
The highest mountain range of Europe (seven summits over 5000m) 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 5200m and reaches its highest at Mt.Elbrus (5642m).
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.
Four factors of succes:
Good company which implies good guides, the key figures of any adventure trip.
Weather (the most stable in July and August).
Tactics (number of days, acclimatization, help of "lifts" such as Snow Cats etc)
Well chosen equipment (we can offer the full range of this in the local rental offices).
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, from south-west plus the traverse from south to north.
The heart of the Greater Caucasus, the amazing cluster of five majestic peaks over 50000m called Bezengi is on our offering list as an acclimatising playground for an Elbrus climb.
For easier navigation can suggest the following ranging for our Caucasus trips:
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 with traverse from south to north)
3. mixed: more demanding technically (yet quite affordable for novices), hotel in the valley, lift with a cableway, camping at the starting point plus wild high mountain scenery and the total seclusion as a bonus (Elbrus from south-west)
For more information see the detailed programmes.
Elbrus from south-west.
Probably the best climb on Elbrus, the climb for connoisseurs. Here you get really the best: the comfort of the hotel in the Baksan valley, the first line of Elbrus cable ways, which can be used on the approaches to save time, the totally wild mountain, all to yourself and the outstanding mountain scenery. Here, 8-9hr from a good hotel in the busy Baksan valley, climbing traffic practically does not exist, even as thin as on the northern side. The only minus is the necessity to camp on snow.
Coinciding with the classic route in its lower part (by Elbrus car cable-way from the lower station at 2200m to the intermediate one, Stary Krugozor, at 3000m) the route veers from the station to the left and goes under the impressive south face of Mt Elbrus. This side of the mountain gets more precipitation than the northern one, so, with its huge ice-falls looks alpine, austere and challenging. The higher you go, the wider grow the view of the West Caucasus, many dark fangs and towers forming the sky-line. And ahead, on the left the plunging red walls of Kyukyurtlyu peak (4890m) make the scene more and more airy, formidable.
Technically the route is a bit harder than the classic and Elbrus North. It starts with 50m of steep snow (35?), easily equipped with fixed ropes. A narrow but level, but quite exposed (moving roped up or fixed rope) snow ridge, 60-70m long, is on top of that and further up the ridge broadens and steepens to 25-30? going to West Shoulder (4950m). There are some crevasses on the ridge, easily negotiated or skirted. From the Shoulder vast and almost flat snow fields stretch to the summit rise, where the steepness increases to 30-35?. Yet, the slope is made of so deeply chiseled snow that, even having fallen, you cannot possibly slide down.
Being of the same length as the classic, this route takes the same 7-9hr up and 3-5hr down. The disadvantage is the necessity to camp at 3950m on snow under the route, even though the campsite, in a small flat cirque, is well protected from wind. We are sure the feeling of doing not just a snow plod but a mountain of the Himalayan scale and grandeur can easily outweigh this inconvenience.
We suggest the Bezengi Prelude should be used as the acclimatizing part for this climb. This is for the real mountain lovers of course, not for those coming to make a tick against a next in turn 7 Summits peak.
Important. On this climb you will have to carry from 3000m to 3950m all your personal things you will need on the climb, so please keep their amount and weight as low as possible. A very wise thing would be to keep it all to the unavoidable minimum.
Footwear for Elbrus climb:
Personal climbing gear:
Camping and trekking gear:
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)Transportation.
For land transfers we use comfortable private minivans. To get to St.Krugozor station we use Elbrus cable-way.
Important. In case the Elbrus cable-ways do not work (does happens, but very seldom) and in case you would not want to carry up all the loads on your back, the extra expenditure (not listed in "price includes") on a four-weel truck are to be divided between the clients. Then the cost of the cable-ways tickets will be taken into account.
The same if the group decides to descend after the climb, when the cable-ways will already not work.
Important. Please plan your arriving to Mineralny Vody before 2pm: the group transfer from Airport to Terskol leaves at about 2pm. If you arrive more than half an hour later than that, please be ready to pay for an individual transfer to the hotel (from 50 USD). The group transfer on the way back leaves before noon and is aimed at the earliest client's flight.
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.
Lunches 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)
In the Baksan valley we put our clients in the Jantamal Hotel on Cheget Glade. Double rooms, free Wi-fi in the hall.
On Elbrus it is good double tents for two.
Health-care and insurance.
Health-care on the mountain is limited to the first-aid kit the guide carries. Down in the valley in case of serious health problems the local hospital and your medical insurance policy are to take over. Your policy must cover climbing to 6000m. We do not provide any insurance!
Take enough of your personal medicines if you know you might need them.
The English speaking head-guide will look after you while in the mountains. There will be lessons of belaying on snow and cramponning. 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. Porters will bring up (and doen after the climb) all the group camping and cooking gear, food&fuel.
In any high mountains the higher you go, the more difficult and uncomfortable the conditions. Elbrus is 5642m, so, on this trip the range of your clothes and footwear must comply with hot sunny day down in the valley and with snow blizzard at 0-5C on the mountain. For details see our gear list.
In the Caucasus a lot of things are much cheaper than in the West: you can have a decent meal in a cafe with meat and beer for 10USD and buy cheaply woolen socks, sweaters and suchlike in the wool bazaar. Souveniers may be more expensive, but there is neither casino nor any night life in Cheget village, so no need to change many euros or US dollars into roubles. 100USD or euros are more than enough.
Safety and responsibility.
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.
BaikalNature trip adviser on regions, weather and ice camping in Russian hidden spots