Mountain Climbing

Mt Elbrus Climb

Mount Elbrus appears white covered with thick glaciers and ice

Location:Southern Russia

Elevation:5,642 meters

About Mt. Elbrus

Mt. Elbrus is a dormant volcano with an elevation of 5,642 meters above sea level, making the highest stratovolcano in Eurasia, and the tenth most prominent peak in the world.  The mountain is located in Southern Russia, at the Western Caucasus, in the Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

This extinct volcano has two summits: the western summit reaches 5, 642 meters, and the other stands at 5, 595 meters on the eastern summit. Khillar Khachirov first ascended the eastern summit on 10 July 1829. The western summit was reached by a British expedition led by F. Crauford Grove and including Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker, and the Swiss guide Peter Knubel in 1874.

The formation of the volcano took place about 2.5 million years ago. The eastern slopes emit sulphuric gases and mineral springs along its descending streams. Glaciers cover 53 square miles of the mountain that feed the Kuban River and some of the Terek headwaters.

Mt Elbrus is a pride of the Caucasus region as it is a significant mountaineering and tourism center of the area. An extensive tourist and mountaineering base was opened with large-scale sporting facilities in 1964.

What to expect

  • Weather

Weather at Mount Elbrus is similar to other mountains that sometimes it can be harsh and unpredictable. Between July and August is the best season for the climb because it is when the mountain has the most stable weather. And since it is located approximately midway along the Caucasus Range at the southern border of Russia between the Caspian and Black Seas, thus the vast bodies of water impact the wind and precipitation on the range and Elbrus.

Summer makes the best hike with an average temperature of at minus 8 C (15 degrees F) at night, but in winter temperatures at the higher altitudes can drop to minus 30 C during the day. Although the mountain can be climbed during winter, the higher slopes are hard ice, and the temperature is freezing.

  • Accommodation

The first two nights are usually spent by the climbers in a tourist-class hotel at Terskol village, to organize equipment and complete acclimatization treks. On the mountain, about 4000 meters, most climbers stay at a refuge, in simple huts accessible by a series of cable cars, chairlifts, or a day’s trek from Garabashi.

  • Cost of the climb

The price varies on which route to take, but it ranges from £1595.00 to £1895.00, including all expenses before and during the climb with professional guides on the expedition.

  • How long is the climb to the summit

The usual length of the climb starts at six days, but there are a few days, usually lasts three days needed for the acclimatization.  The entire expedition with travel days approximately a minimum of eleven days, which applies to both sides of the mountain.

Is Mount Elbrus a technical climb?

A refuge in the mountain area overlooking Mount Elbrus

The mountain with moderate ascent is a non-technical snow climb but poses a few technical challenges during unfavorable weather, and the altitude makes this into a winter mountaineering challenge. The north and south side generally have similar terrain, but choosing the northern route, which is more remote, is harder in many ways while the south side has no infrastructures to find. Both have objective dangers such as small crevasses, but as long as you stay on the route, it is safe.

Other Routes

Besides north and south routes, the east and the west routes can also be trekked but are quite wild, and only very few people use these routes since there is no infrastructure found. The West Route starts from Polyana Dzhily-Su (2 670 meters) while the East Route starts from Elbrus village.

How dangerous is Mt. Elbrus

Out of the Seven Summits, Mt. Elbrus statistically represents a high number of fatalities due to underestimating the mountain compared to other summits. Mountaineers’ incomplete equipment, lack of training, and ill-weather are often the major causes of accidents in the area.

What permits needed

Traveling to the Kabardino Balkyrie republic and Elbrus region requires a border permit or visa from Moscow. It would be best if you also had a local registration or permit for the area from the nearby town of Tyrnauz. It would be best if you had Prielbrusie National Park’s official permit that will allow you access to the mountain huts.

Acclimatization

There should be at least three acclimatization treks for a mountaineer before the summit push: one from Terskol village up to 3, 000 meters on Cheget Peak and at least two more from the refuge Elbrus, the first to Priyut 11 (at 4200m). The second is to Pashtuhova Rocks at 4750 meters.

Altitude sickness

Due to the mountain’s high elevation, climbers usually experience altitude sickness, notably reaching the summit with only 50% less oxygen than at the sea level. Symptoms such as headaches, appetite loss, shortness of breathing, nausea, vomiting, and increased heart rate usually occur after ascending above 2 400 meters. That is why enough and proper acclimatization is needed before the climb to the summit. Also, adequate hydration and rest whenever possible

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