Mount Elbrus – 18,841 feet

A guided climb of Elbrus or Mengi Tau (Mountain of a Thousand Mountains) is a great way for climbers of all levels to experience high altitude mountaineering in a culturally rich setting. At 18,841′ Mount Elbrus is a heavily glaciated twin-coned volcano that dominates the Caucuses Range. Due to its proximity to the Black Sea, it often seems to act as a magnet for brutal weather that streams up from the southwest.  Basic mountaineering skills, a good level of fitness and a penchant for adventure, will see you to the top and the views of the Caucuses are stunning on a clear day. On summit day, our route ascends about 1000m of moderate snow slopes to the col between the two summit cones. Above this point, we will ascend another 300m of steeper snow to the western summit.

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If you have never been to Russia, you are in for a real treat. A culturally diverse country, we will have time in our schedule to visit some of the sights in Moscow like the Kremlin, Red Square, and St. Basil’s Cathedral. We will end our expedition in St. Petersburg, where the stunning architecture of old blends with a vibrant and eclectic modern urban society. The Hermitage in St. Petersburg is one of the greatest art museums in the world and worthy of a week-long visit itself!

After spending one full day exploring Moscow, we will fly to Mineralnye Vody (Mineral Water) and drive the four hours to our hotel in the Baksan Valley, at the foot of Elbrus. Based in our hotel, we will spend two days doing acclimatization hikes and exploring the Baksan Valley.  After a few days, we will take the tram up the the new a beautiful Leaprus Hut on the flank of Elbrus from where we will begin our ascent of the mountain.

An ascent of Elbrus is a physically challenging ascent involving almost 5000 feet of elevation gain. Fitness is paramount for a successful ascent, as you need to be prepared for a 12 hour summit day, so be sure to include some long, endurance training into your fitness regimen.  The skills necessary for the climb are relatively straightforward, with the initial 3500 feet involving moderate snow climbing of 20-30 degrees. Higher up, the slope steepens to 35 degrees in spots and can be icy if the wind has scoured the upper mountain. We have opportunities to practice and review the requisite skills, which makes an ascent of Elbrus a great option for any fit mountain enthusiast.

DAY 1: ARRIVE IN RUSSIA.  Our team will meet in Moscow, where you will meet your guides and go out for a Welcome Dinner.  We plan to meet everyone at the same time so we will coordinate arrival times.

DAY 2: SIGHTSEEING DAY IN MOSCOW.  We have all just flown a long way to arrive in Moscow, and the culture and history of this city are not to be missed.  We will spend this day with a local tour guide exploring historic churches, The Kremlin, and of course Red Square.

DAY 3: FLY TO MINERALNYE VODY.  From Moscow, we’ll take a flight to the city of Mineralnye Vody (Mineral Water) and then drive up into the mountains and the Baksan Valley, at the foot of Mount Elbrus.

DAY 4: ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE.  We’ll take an acclimatization hike in a nearby valley with views of Elbrus. This is a moderate day of exercise with modest elevation gains. We’ll spend the night at our hotel in Terskol.

DAY 5: ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE.  Acclimatization hike and review of crampon and ice axe techniques. We’ll spend this night in Terskol, as well.

DAY 6: MOVE TO New LEAPRUS HUT.  Ascend tram and ski lifts to the new, clean and comfortable Leaprus Huts at over 11,000 feet and hike onto the glacier, which we will ascend on summit day.

DAY 7: ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE.  Hike up to Pastukhov Rocks at about 15,400 feet for additional acclimatization and descend to the hut for the night.

DAY 8:  PRE-SUMMIT.  We will spend this day preparing for the summit attempt, a short hike, and some skills review.  Today is important to rest as we will be leaving for the summit tonight.

DAY 9: SUMMIT DAY!  We will use a snow cat to take us up to our high point of the previous day’s hike (15,400ft) and begin our summit push by headlamp.  This can be a long day 12 hrs +/- and we will start long before the sun comes up.

DAY 10: CONTINGENCY DAY at HUT.  If we aren’t able to summit on the first scheduled day, we’ll have another chance!  Otherwise, we’ll be back in the valley for a celebratory dinner.

DAY 11: BACK TO TERSKOL. We’ll head back down the tram to the village at the base for a celebratory dinner!   If we have extra time we can schedule a hike or sightseeing in the Cheget region.

DAY 12: FLY TO SAINT PETERSBURG.  We’ll travel back from the mountain to the airport at Mineral Vody and fly to Saint Petersburg.

DAY 13: SIGHTSEEING IN St. PETERSBURG.  One day in this beautiful and historic city is certainly not enough, but we will see the world renowned Hermitage Musem and visit the historic ship Aurora.  We will have a local tour guide to show us around, and you are welcome and encouraged to spend another day or two here exploring the city before you head home.

DAY 14: FLY HOME.  Transfers to airport for flights back home.

Footwear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Mountaineering Socks3 - 5 pairs of good wool socks. Try a couple of different weights as that will affect the fit of your boot.
Mountain BootsInsulated boots are a must; however, they can be insulated single boots, or double boots (triple boots are overkill for this trip). Single boots climb better, but require a bit more care to dry them out after wearing them for an acclimatization climb. It can be warm down low, but remember you'll be climbing to over 20,000 ft!
Light Hiking Shoes or BootsThe days spent hiking require waterproof, well broken in boots or hiking shoes. Trail running shoes will work, if you are comfortable using them, as we will only carry daypacks.
GaitersGaiters are required unless your pants fit tightly around your boot, many boots have built in gaiters.

Torso Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Expedition ParkaThis is an important layer so don't skimp! You do not need the heaviest 8000meter parka for peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, but you should have a warm, baffled parka with a hood.
Base Layer Top(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers. Long sleeve or short sleeve base layers work well.
Light Fleece HoodyLight/mid weight fleece (or wool) top with a hood. You will wear this over your light weight base layer.
“Puffy” Light Insulated JacketSize this layer to fit over your light fleece hoody and wind shell, and it is often layered underneath your expedition parka. Synthetic is easier to deal with and not worry about getting wet than a similar down filled layer. A hood on this layer in mandatory! *** Guides Tip! Use two lightweight puffy layers in the early season or if you are worried about being cold. A Micro or Nano Puff jacket with a Ultra Light Down Jacket or Vest allows versatile layering options.
Hard Shell JacketThis jacket should be large enough to go over your light puffy jacket layer. You do not need the burliest/heaviest Gore-Tex jacket you can find, and we prefer the lightest weight versions.
Soft Shell Wind JacketMany high alpine peaks are cold and dry. We are huge fans of very lightweight softshell wind jackets for high, dry, cold peaks. Weighing just a few ounces, these can be carried in your pocket or in the lid of your pack for rapid deployment. This layer is used in addition to your more waterproof hard shell jacket.
T ShirtSynthetic or lightweight Merino wool shirts can be a nice "extra" piece in the mountains and even on glaciers. Consider this optional. Synthetics dry faster than cotton!
Vest (optional)A lightweight down or synthetic filled vest can be a nice addition and add some warmth with little weight. This is an optional layer for most climbers.

Leg Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Base Layer Bottoms(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers.
Light Fleece BottomsAs the air thins and the wind picks up, you'll want a bit more insulation on your legs. This should be a slightly warmer layer that can go over your base layer bottoms when it gets cold.
Soft Shell PantsSoft Shell pants are the workhorse on Denali, you'll be wearing these day in and day out on most expeditions. On peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, you can wear them in lieu of your hard shell pants for much of the expedition.
Hard Shell, Waterproof PantsWhen it's raining a soft shell pant just isn't enough and you'll need a waterproof "hard shell" pant, Gore-Tex or equivalent. These should be as light weight as possible, fully separating side zippers will help to get them on without taking off your boots. On some peaks, you might carry hard shell pants for the lower mountain, but switch to soft shell pants for the colder and drier upper mountain.
UnderwearConsider synthetic or Merino wool for your underwear. Most longer trips, such as Aconcagua or Denali, typically require 3-4 pair, but choose your quantity based on your personal level of comfort.

Head and Hands

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Heavyweight GlovesWarm, insulated gloves are the day-to-day workhorses on cold peaks or for cold days of ice climbing. We prefer gloves with removable liners for ease of drying.
Medium Weight GlovesA Mid-weight glove will generally be a softshell type glove with some light synthetic insulation.
Light Weight GlovesWhen the sun comes out on a glacier, the temperature can soar. Light weight, soft shell gloves are great for keeping the sun off your hands, while still giving you a bit of protection from the wind and cold.
Buff Neck GaiterBuff is a brand of light weight neck gaiters that have grown to become a staple of every guide's kit. These are amazingly versatile, and can be worn as a hat, a neck gaiter or pulled over your face for protection from the wind or sun. They come in many thicknesses nowadays, but we prefer the original weight for its versatility.
Summit MittensThick, warm mittens made from Down, synthetic fill, or a combination of insulation are crucial for summit morning on many big, cold mountains. Most come with some form of retention straps, which can help reduce the chance of losing them to a gust of wind or in the event of a fall. Good mittens are expensive, but how much is one finger worth?
Warm HatBring one warm hat or two hats of different weights. Wool or fleece are fine, but your hat must provide ear protection from the cold.
Face MaskCheeks and the tip of your nose are notoriously difficult to keep warm, especially in a biting wind. Neoprene face masks do a great job of protecting those exposed surfaces.
Sun HatBaseball type or wide brimmed sun hats are required for protection against the intense sunshine found on many peaks. You can combine a baseball hat with a BUFF for good sun protection or go for a wide brimmed version to protect your face, ears and neck.
Hand WarmersBring 4 -6+ sets of these disposable insurance policies, depending on where you are climbing. Make certain that your hand warmers are relatively new, as they do go bad over time.
Glacier GlassesGood, dark (Category 4) glacier glasses are a must for high altitude climbs. They must have side protection and filter 100% UVA and UVB rays.
Ski GogglesThese are necessary for use while traveling during storms or during really cold spells. These must have double lenses and provide full UV protection. Fogging is a real challenge, so the “Turbo Fan” goggles are worth the investment! Select a general purpose lens that will provide some protection in bright light, but not be so dark as to make them useless on a cloudy or flat-light day.
Nose GuardBeko makes nice nose protectors that keep the wind and sun from wreaking havoc on your skin.

Sleeping Gear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Sleeping BagSuitable bags should range from -15 F (-29C) to -25 F (-40C). If you sleep cold, consider a warmer bag. Down bags are preferable, and should be your choice unless you have a compelling reason to bring a synthetic bag. Sleeping bag systems or over bags are generally a compromise and not usually recommended. A compression stuff sack is essential for packing your sleeping bag.
Inflatable Sleeping PadInflatable pads have improved tremendously in recent years. Whether you choose a self inflating pad or one that requires some pumping to inflate, select a pad that is warm and comfortable.
Foam Sleeping PadBringing two sleeping pads, one closed cell foam and the other an inflatable pad, will provide additional comfort and insulation, as well as a bit of insurance in case you have a catastrophic failure of your inflatable pad.

Packs and Duffels

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
BackpackLook for a pack that has a capacity of around 70+ liters. There are some really nice, lightweight packs on the market that have sufficient capacity, but won't add much weight to your load. Light weight packs can be used in lieu of an approach and summit pack in some cases, saving you even more weight overall.

Climbing Gear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Ski / Trekking PolesAdjustable poles work great and are easier to travel with as they fit better in your duffel bag. The small “trekking” baskets on some poles are not large enough for use on soft snow, so make certain your poles have bigger “snowflake” style baskets for any climb with glacier or snow travel.
Ice AxeA general use, mountaineering axe is sufficient for this climb. Some axes are much lighter than others, so select for weight as well as a size for your height. Most climbers do well with a 60 - 75 cm axe. On less technical routes, a longer axe can act like a walking stick on flatter terrain.
Alpine Climbing HarnessYour harness should be adjustable enough to accommodate several layers of clothing. As with most items on this list, choose a light weight harness.
CarabinersBring eight regular (non-locking) carabiners. Please do not bring “bent-gate” carabiners, as these have certain limitations that do not make them appropriate for how we will use them. Mark your 'biners with colored tape for identification.
Locking CarabinersBring three locking carabiners. Screwgate or auto-locking 'biners work equally well, although the new magnetic gate versions seem like they might be less prone to freezing closed. Select light weight carabiners.
Accessory/Prussik Cord50 feet (15.25m) of 6mm accessory cord will be used to create a prussik, rig your ascender, and extra for setting up your sled for glacier travel. We will go over this in our pre-trip training.
Climbing HelmetMake certain it fits over your warmest hat and under the hood of your shell. The super-lightweight foam helmets are great, but can get crushed in your duffel bags during travel, so protect your lid!
CramponsSelect a pair 12-point Mountaineering Crampons that fit your boots well. Step-in or strap versions work equally well; just make sure they fit your mountain boots and overboots. You may need to lengthen your crampons to accommodate your overboots, please make sure you can make this adjustment in the field. Aluminum crampons are not acceptable for expeditions.
Primary Attachment Locking CarabinerFor your primary attachment to the rope, we will us a "triple action" locking carabiner. Triple Action (TriAct) carabiners will not come unlocked while you are traveling on the glacier. You only need one of these carabiners.

Other

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Stuff SacksWe are fans of the very light stiff sacks made from Sil Nylon fabric. Bring enough for your clothes and personal items. Light, zippered stuff bags are really nice for toiletries.
Two (2) One-Liter Water BottlesYou will need two, 1-liter plastic water bottles. Please bring wide-mouth bottles, such as those from Nalgene, as these are much easier to fill than bottles with small openings.
Lip Balm (2 tubes)Protect your lips! Bring two tubes of high quality lip balm with SPF.
Sun ScreenSmaller tubes work well, as they are easier to keep from freezing than is one big tube. You'll want to bring 3-4 ounces (85 - 110g) for the trip.
P-BottleWide-mouth, collapsible Nalgene Cantenes work great- they make a 96 ounce version, which will come in handy during long storms or if you take Diamox. Ladies- look for an appropriate adapter available at your local outdoors store. These items can both be tough to find in Anchorage so plan ahead!
Toiletry KitTooth brush & paste, dental floss, Handi-wipes (1 per day on average), a small bottle of hand sanitizer, perhaps some foot powder… keep it small!!!
Toilet PaperDepending on your technique, you'll want 1-2 rolls, each packed in a quality zip-lock bag.
Personal Medical KitMountain Trip's guides will have fairly comprehensive medical kits developed by our Medical Director, but we encourage each climber to bring a small, personal kit. Items to consider bringing include: blister treatment and prevention, pain relievers, and antacids. Presctiption medications should be based on consultation with your personal physician. Suggested drugs for altitude expeditions include: Diamox (acetazolomide) 125 mg, Decadron (dexamthazone) 4 mg, Nifedipine XR 30 mg, and a couple of antibiotics for respiratory and gastrointestinal issues.
Journal (and pencil)Expeditions can be a great time for reflection and a journal can be a nice way to wax poetic or just keep track of what you did each day. Keep it small and leave the leather bound version at home.
Book(s) or E-ReaderThere is a lot of "down time" on an expedition, even when you have good weather. An expedition can be a good time to catch up on reading!
CameraSmall, light weight point and shoot cameras are most popular among climbers. Be sure to bring extra memory and batteries!
Altimeter WatchAn altimeter watch can be fun to have on an expedition to keep track of your ascent and to watch for changes in barometric pressure.
Small KnifeA small knife or small multi-tool is also handy to have. One per tent is sufficient. There is emphasis on the word small when it comes to multi-tools!
Personal Music PlayeriPods and the like are really nice on a long trip. At altitude, hard drive based devices stop working, so make certain that you bring a flash drive (solid state) music player. Also consider how you will keep it charged, and bring whatever is necessary to keep you in time to the beat.
Satellite Tracking/Texting DeviceSatellite linked devices such as the Garmin inReach have been increasingly popular, as you can send and receive text messages with it. Again- consider how you will keep it powered over the course of your expedition. These new devices will allow you to send and receive text messages nearly anywhere in the world! It is a fun way to keep in touch with the family and let them follow along on your journey. They are not required, and Mountain Trip guides carry several forms of communication devices including satellite based communications that we can use in case of an emergency situation.
Several Good Jokes!"A Moose walks into a bar..."
SunscreenThe sun can be intense at altitude. Bring one small tube for use while climbing and one larger tube for use while not on route.

Refunds and Cancellations

Mountain Trip recognizes how difficult and disappointing it can be for climbers who must cancel expeditions which they have planned for a long time. Team members must also recognize that, due to the nature of planning expeditions and dealing with governmental permits and regulations, Mountain Trip also accrues significant expenses in the months prior to expedition departure dates. We must therefore adhere to a strict refund policy for all climbers. Trip cancellation and travel insurance is generally available for all expeditions. U.S. and Canadian residents should contact us for more information regarding travel insurance. Our refund and cancellation policy is outlined below.

• All expeditions require a $1500 deposit to secure a spot on the team. Your submission of a deposit constitutes your acceptance of this Fee Schedule, Refund and Cancellation Policy.

• All deposits for Elbrus expeditions include a non-refundable $750 administration fee.

• Final payments for expeditions must be received 120 days prior to the Team Meeting Day.

• Failure to pay expedition fees by the date they are due constitutes cancellation of your spot on the team and forfeiture of your deposit.

• Any cancellation 120+ days before your Team Meeting Day will be refunded in full, less the administration fee.

• If you cancel 120-90 days before your Team Meeting Day, you are eligible for a refund of 50% of any monies paid, less the deposit.

• No refunds will be provided for cancellations occurring within the last 89 days prior to an expedition.

• All requests for refunds must be made in writing and received in our Colorado office.

• If you register for a climb within 90 days of the Team Meeting Date, expedition fees will be due in full to secure your spot on the team.

• Mountain Trip reserves the right to cancel an expedition prior to the departure date for any reason. In such an event, all monies collected by Mountain Trip from team members for that expedition shall be promptly refunded. This is the extent of our financial liability.

 

Inclusions and Exclusions

Included in the Trip Fee:

• Unlimited pre-trip access to our office resources

• US trained, Mountain Trip guide(s)

• Airport transfer to hotel

• Scheduled accommodation (shared room) for up to two nights accommodation in Moscow (shared room) pre-trip and 2 nights in St. Petersburg at the end.  Up to four nights accommodation and all meals in Terskol.

• Welcome dinner in Moscow

• All food while on the mountain

• Scheduled group meals

• Hut and lift fees, transfers to and from the lifts, snow cat fee

• Round Trip flights from Moscow to Mineral Vody

• All group climbing and cooking equipment

• Custom expedition dispatch blog for your climb, complete with podcasts from the mountain

• Assistance arranging for post-climb activities and obtaining a visa (fees might apply for visa service)

 

Not Included in the Trip Fee:

• Flights to and from Russia

• Personal clothing and equipment

• Meals beyond the included, scheduled meals.  Most meals in Moscow and St. Petersburg are NOT included.

• Additional nights’ accommodation at hotels or huts due to delays

• Domestic excess baggage fees

• Additional services such as laundry, room service in hotels, etc

• Airport transfer for your return flight

• Travel and/or rescue insurance

• Costs incurred due to evacuation or unplanned departure from the mountain due to illness or other problems

• Costs incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Mountain Trip

• Customary gratuities for guides and local staff

• Costs as a result of force majeure

 

General Agreement Concerning Services to be Provided And Responsibilities of Team Members

When registering for an expedition with Mountain Trip we want to help make sure you understand the services we are providing and the services you are responsible for.

Transportation is incidental

The main purpose of becoming a team member is to join us on an expedition in the mountains with our expert hiking guides. As such any transportation we provide or that you may contract for on your own is incidental to the trip. We suggest that you make sure you have time built into your itinerary for delays throughout your Mount Elbrus trekking adventure.

Transportation to and from your destination

We will designate a specific Team Meeting Day for your expedition. Transportation to the meeting point on your Team Meeting Day is to be provided by you. You must arrive in time to be ready to participate in a team meeting at the appointed time on the Team Meeting Day for your expedition. Expedition climbing is very dynamic and we will provide you with a recommendation as to when you should book your flights to and from your destination. We suggest you book a ticket that allows you to change your flight with little effort or cost.

Lodging off the mountain

Mountain Trip will provide lodging per the Inclusions and Exclusions section above. Any additional lodging is your responsibility. Don’t worry about booking a room after your expedition. We generally don’t know how long we’ll be in the mountains, and we can help arrange lodging when we return to “civilization.”

Responsibilities of Team Members

You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being, including making all necessary preparations to ensure good health and physical conditioning. You are responsible for understanding the conditions that may exist on the climb and choosing a climb that is appropriate for your abilities and interests. You are responsible for having knowledge of all pre-departure information and for assembling the appropriate clothing and equipment for your climb.

While on the expedition, team members are responsible to maintain basic levels of hygiene and to conduct themselves respectfully with other team members and members of the local population. If a guide feels that a team member is putting other members’ health or safety at risk, the guide has the discretion to remove a team member from an expedition.

Use our office staff and your lead guide as pre-trip resources to ensure that all your questions are answered. Travel insurance may help recoup expenses if you need to leave an expedition due to an illness.

Airline Responsibility Passenger/Airline contracts are in effect while team members are on board any aircraft contracted for use in the expedition.

You are responsible for obtaining a Visa for entering Russia.  We will assist you in this process, but you are responsible for having a valid Passport with at least 6 months validity left and a Visa to enter the country.

No Guaranteed Outcomes

While it is one of our goals to help every climber on every Mountain Trip expedition reach the summit, Mountain Trip cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit.  Any number of factors, including weather, the conditions encountered on the route, your personal level of fitness or ability, the abilities of your team mate(s) or any number of other circumstances might result in you and/or your team turning around before reaching the summit.  Failure to reach the summit due to any reason associated with mountaineering, such as weather, team dynamics, route conditions, avalanche hazard, rockfall hazard, etc, or due to your lack of fitness or preparation are not the responsibility of Mountain Trip and will not result in a refund or a rescheduling of your expedition.

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