Monday, June 10, 2019

Route Profile: Mount Elbrus

Elbrus - 18,510 ft (5633 m)

Elbrus rising up from the surrounding valley.
AAI Collection.
Mount Elbrus is a giant, dormant volcano which separates Europe from Asia in the Caucasus mountain range of Russia. It is also one of the famous Seven Summits. While the mountain is heavily glaciated, the moderate angle of its slopes make the climb suitable for people with basic alpine skills and an interest in high altitude climbing. Any expedition to Elbrus will aim for an ascent of the peak and the trip can be greatly enhanced by adding short and quick side trips. In-depth looks into the cultural and architectural wonders of this ancient country will make for many great stories and photos for you to bring home.

A great way to begin the trip is in St. Petersburg and then return home via Moscow with itinerary highlights that include visits to museums, art galleries and major architectural attractions. After exploring St. Petersburg, you will fly south to Mineral Vody on the edge of the Caucasus. A short drive to the beautiful tree covered valleys brings you into the mountains themselves. Based from charming hotels in the Baksan valley, the next few days are filled with acclimatization hikes, good food and pleasant surroundings to help you fully appreciate the region.

After several days, you move into the high mountain huts for more training followed by the ascent itself. On the slopes of Elbrus, you will stay in barrels huts at 12,800 feet and continue to acclimate for a couple more days. As a proven ascent program, several contingency days are built into an itinerary to allow for inclement weather and assures a very high chance of success.

Enjoying the sunset from Camp 1.
Photo courtesy Adventure Consultants.
Summit day begins before sunrise as with a climb up moderate snow slopes towards the east summit. Approaching the saddle between the east and higher west peak, you can see the remnants of a derelict hut not able to withstand the elements at this altitude. The final push brings climbers onto the summit ridge with a tremendous sight of hundreds of peaks throughout the Caucasus. Slowly turning in a full circle, you can see wooded valleys merging into mountains of rock and snow, all with early morning light glimmering off the Black Sea. The visual rewards are well earned for reaching the highest point in Europe and for climbing one of the Seven Summits!

Stunning views of the Caucasus range as climbers
move on the slopes of Elbrus.
AAI Collection.
Staying in hotels, lodges and huts avoids the need for tents so you can simply bring along a sleeping bag and your climbing gear and enjoy the climb! Attaining a relatively high elevation at 5633m or 18,510 feet, Elbrus certainly demands respect for its altitude and a deliberate focus on climbing high each day and sleeping low to facilitates effective acclimatization. As with any foray to high altitude, it is imperative that expedition members are fit, strong and in good health.

Success on reaching the highest point in Europe!
Photo courtesy Adventure Consultants.
Looking to add more adventure into your trip? Climbing Elbrus and Kilimanjaro in the same month is a great way to experience two of the Seven Summits. Being acclimated after the first mountain makes it much easier to make a summit attempt on the second mountain. Contact our office for more details!

See y'all in the mountains soon!

Dylan Cembalski
Alaska Programs and 7 Summits Coordinator
AAI Guide

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