Location: Kabardino-Balkaria, Central Caucasus, Russia
Grade: Moderate to strenuous
Fitness level: Good
Route: Adsul Valley – Priut Hut – summit – Terskol
Travel period: June – August
Duration: 16 days
The highest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano and one of the Seven Summits. It is part of the Caucasus Mountains which stretch for 880km from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea and form the physical barrier dividing Europe and Asia. With its double summits, Elbrus dominates the Central Caucasus. Zapadnaya, the western peak, is the higher of the two at 5,642m, while Vostochnaya, the eastern peak, stands at 5,621m. The mountain is covered with a massive sheet of ice and from the col that divides the two peaks the snow slopes descend to the many tongues of ice and crevasses lying in the valleys.
The climb is suitable for those moving on from high altitude peaks like Kilimanjaro and wishing to start progressing to mountains which require additional skills such as moving on snow and ice. A reasonable level of fitness is required as it is a demanding trek that includes an average of six hours walking per day, with summit night requiring between 12 and 15 hours. It can be a tough, physical challenge. The primary hazards are the high altitude and poor weather.
Climbers will need to be familiar with the use of crampons and ice axes, and ski poles will be used. We have designed a snow and ice skills training course especially for those travelling to a region and landscape like that found on Mount Elbrus and we recommend you complete this before travelling. To facilitate proper acclimatisation, we have scheduled into our itinerary specific acclimatisation days to allow our bodies to adjust for our summit attempt, with training climbs and walks in the Baksan Valley.
Our expedition begins in Moscow. We have a brief stop off here before catching our flight to Mineralnye Vody and then on to our base at Terskol in the Baksan Valley. Before our attempt on Elbrus, we spend a few days in the spectacular valleys surrounding Elbrus, acclimatising, training, resting and waiting for a break in the weather. The Normal Route presents a long climb over a medium incline that requires proper acclimatisation but has no real technical difficulty. The simplicity of this climb is not to be underestimated however, as, apart from the altitude, the highly variable weather and frequent violent storms, combined with low temperatures (as low as -25 degrees), means that this ascent is a real high-altitude adventure.
Day 1: Fly from Dublin to Moscow
Check into hotel.
Day 2: Depart Moscow
Fly to Mineralnye Vody and drive to Terskol. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Hike to Cheget, 3,600m
Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Hike to Terskol
Overnight at hotel.
Day 5: Hike to Adsul Valley
Overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Cable-car to Mir Station. Hike to the Barrels
Overnight at the Barrels.
Day 7: Hike to Priut Hut or higher
Overnight at the Barrels.
Day 8: Technical training/weather/acclimatisation day
Day 9: Technical training/weather/acclimatisation day
Day 10: Summit attempt
This is the last potential summit night. Overnight at Priut Hut.
Day 11: Descend to Terskol
Overnight at hotel.
Day 12: Leave Terskol – Mineralnye Vody – Moscow
Overnight at city hotel.
Day 13: Depart Moscow
Fly from Moscow to Dublin unless you have opted for the Moscow city tour extension.
Day 14: Moscow, free day
Explore the city and overnight in city hotel.
Day 15: Fly from Moscow to Dublin (night flight)
Day 16: Arrive Dublin
Note: optional extras: Moscow: extra two nights, including city guided tour; St Petersburg: extra three nights, including one-way train and one-way flight. Can add or take away days as needed. Please phone for further details.
June – August (contact us for exact dates of departure)
28 July – 10 August
27 July – 9 August
Full price: €3,700
Land-only: €2,650 (contact us for details of inclusions and exclusions)
Deposit: €500 due at time of booking
- All transfers at destination
- Hotel accommodation B&B 4 nights (min. 3*). Prices are based on shared rooms/tents. If single accommodation is required, a supplement applies
- Camping and all meals on mountain
- Fully escorted with experienced guides and on-site training
- Guides, tents, stoves and communal equipment
- Transportation of equipment
- Permanent VHF radio communication
- Visa fees
- Meals en route
- Bar bills, tips, laundry and room service
- Travel insurance
- Extra porterage taken on
- Extra baggage costs
- Additional costs incurred if you choose to leave the mountain early or if we summit on the first attempt
- Personal gear
- Ground or air evacuations
- Phone communications and items of personal nature
- Insurance liability and hospital costs
If you wish to arrange and pay for your own flight to Russia we will meet you at the airport in Moscow. Full refund applies only if cancellation is received and acknowledged 20 weeks or more prior to departure. For bookings where flights have to be paid for in advance, the flight cost is non-refundable once paid.
PREPARATION & TRAINING
Climbing Mount Elbrus is, among other things, a significant personal and team achievement that you should enjoy undertaking. To do it, it is necessary to bear in mind some recommendations when starting to prepare for your climb. The chances of success and the safety margin are greatly improved with proper preparation and acclimatisation to ensure the necessary strength to avoid exhaustion during your journey, to avoid accidents and to decrease the likelihood of mountain sickness.
The challenge of climbing Elbrus and aiming for its summit is worth the effort involved in pre-expedition training. Although hillwalking is best and specific to the challenge, any type of cardiovascular training will help you prepare for this expedition. Focus your training on building endurance by completing long, slow and low to mid-intensity training sessions along with a few fast and short sessions to build up your anaerobic capacity. Build the distance and duration of your training sessions slowly as overtraining often leads to injury.
Our pre-expedition meetings are part of the preparation process. All team members are invited to partake and it is a good idea to attend sessions once you have made up your mind to take on an expedition. The meetings include a thorough briefing on all aspects of the trip and provide an ideal opportunity to clear up any final questions you may have.
You will need a valid full passport. Please ensure it has six months before expiry prior your departure date. Visa application must be made before departure to your nearest Russian Embassy. Prior to applying for your visa, please check dates on your passport. To acquire a visa you will need four passport photos, travel insurance certificate and a tourist voucher (available from us upon request).
It is advisable to bring some money in cash for the trip. ATMs are not always reliable or might have a low daily withdrawal limit.
- Lightweight long thermal underwear – tops and bottoms
- Short and long-sleeved t-shirts
- Expedition-weight long underwear – tops and bottoms, cotton blends are not acceptable
- Fleece jacket – mid-weight to heavy-weight; wind stopper an advantage
- Fleece trousers – light-weight/heavy pile recommended with full separating side zippers to allow for easy accessibility and effective ventilation
- Parka jacket – down or synthetic parka with hood; expedition-type, needs to fit over all insulation layers (it can get as cold as -25 degrees Celsius
- Jacket – waterproof and breathable; good storm-proof mountain jacket with attached hood.
- Over-trousers, waterproof and breathable
- Sun hat with good visor and white bandana or buff for protecting your neck
- Balaclava/facemask – 1, lightweight
- Wool or pile ski hat
- Head torch (inc. spare bulbs & spare batteries); suggested: Petzl LED
- Glacier glasses and ski goggles – 100% UV Cat. 4 preferred, must have side covers; if you wear contacts or glasses, we recommend packing a spare pair of glasses
- Goggles are very useful in bad weather
- Sunglasses x 2 – specific to high altitude mountaineering, UV & IR protection
- Liner gloves
- Synthetic gloves – 2 pairs, lightweight, pile or polypropylene
- Waterproof mittens – 1 pair, pile or wool
- Gore-Tex over-mitts, possible down also
- Wind-stopper fleece gloves
- Light hiking boots or trekking shoes
- Climbing boots – double plastic or high-altitude/insulated boots required
- Gaiters – O.R. Crocs or similar
- Socks – lightweight (2-3 pairs), sock liners, warm trekking socks (2-3 pairs)
- Foot powder
- Backpack – at least 75+20 litre; must have ice axe haul loops and crampon attachment point
- Daypack – 25-35 litre (optional)
- Waterproof pack cover
- Ice axe – general mountaineering tool; sizing is important: under 57cm to 70cm tool depending on your height, available for hire
- Crampons – step-in Petzl or Grivel; make sure these fit your climbing boots, available for hire
- Ski poles – 1 pair collapsible spring bound ski poles
- Harness – lightweight web waist with all leg loops opening, Alpine Bod or similar
- Carabiners – 2 crabs screw gates, 2 snap gates
- Sleeping bag – expedition quality to at least -25ºC down preferred, must pack small
- Sleeping mat – Ridge Rest or lightweight Thermarest
- Pocket-knife – Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool
- Water bottles – 1 or 2 x 1-litre wide-mouth water bottle, Nalgene
- Pee bottle – 1 x litre-wide mouth water bottle
- Pee funnel – for women (optional)
- Sunscreen – SPF 30-40
- Lipscreen – SPF 20-40, at least 2 sticks
- Personal First Aid kit
- Large duffel bag with lock
- Smaller duffel with lock to store excess gear in hotel
- Plastic bags to line stuff sacks to keep gear dry or a dry bag
- Padlocks for bags while in transport
- Travel clothes
- Travel towel
- Toiletry bag
- Camera gear
- Travel insurance certificate
- Passport, visa and copies of all travel and insurance documents
- Money in Euro or US Dollars
- Ear plugs and nail clippers
- Spare boot laces, bulbs, batteries, memory cards, etc
- Cold water detergent and some toiletries
- Small sewing kit
- Penknife and small scissors
- Diary or notebook and book for down time
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper – it is good practice to bring your own, but it is provided to anyone if needed
- Baby wipes/hand wipes
- Hand gel
- Water purification tablets
- Personal medication
WHY TRAVEL WITH US?
Our passion for your adventure treks and expedition is one of the defining characteristics of Pat Falvey Irish & Worldwide Adventures. We love what we do, the places we travel to and the people we work with in each destination. After 25 years of worldwide travel, we remain curious about learning more and retain our delight in sharing what we know with you. We are a hands-on company whose staff are available to answer your queries both inside and outside usual office hours.
Our staff and partners in Nepal, Russia, Africa, Argentina, Peru and Antarctica are as close to us as family members and share our enthusiasm for your trips. We see their work as a vital part of each adventure and have always ensured that local staff, most of whom have worked with Pat for many years, are fairly and honourably treated. The experience and expertise of everyone who works with us is guaranteed and makes for adventures that are high on safety, support and good fun.
Our company is one of the world’s leading experts in high-altitude trekking in remote regions and we pride ourselves in putting together trips that give you the best possibility of success on your adventure. To ensure this, we have a comprehensive acclimatisation formula, designed to maximise each person’s chances of completing their trek without falling prey to the effects of high altitude or acute mountain sickness (AMS). Our guides closely monitor the group at all times for symptoms of the effects of high altitude and are always ready to take the necessary precautions when necessary.
We are not only willing to go the extra mile to make your trip our priority, we are happy to do so.