Mount Elbrus – 18,510ft (5,642m)

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 18,510ft (5,642m) Mount Elbrus is a heavily glaciated twin-coned volcano that dominates the Caucasus 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 1,000m of moderate snow slopes to the col between the two summit cones. Above this point, we’ll 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 out of our hotel, we will spend two days doing acclimatization hikes, then we head up the tram to the the new, beautiful Heart of Elbrus hut, located on the flank of Elbrus. We then begin our ascent of the mountain.

An ascent of Elbrus is a physically challenging ascent involving almost 5,000 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 3,500 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.

Please note: All trips to Russia are on hold due to the current crisis. 

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 HUT.  Ascend tram and ski lifts to the new, clean and comfortable Heart of Elbrus Hut at over 11,000 ft 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 ft 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 Mineralnye Vody and fly to Saint Petersburg.

DAY 13: SIGHTSEEING IN SAINT PETERSBURG.  One day in this beautiful and historic city is certainly not enough, but we will see the world renowned Hermitage Museum 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.

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 local staff

• Costs as a result of force majeure

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 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 $1500 administration fee (we highly recommend that you consider Trip Cancellation Insurance to protect the administration fee, if not the entire cost of your climb).

• 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 Meeting Day will be refunded in full, less the administration fee.

• If you cancel 120-90 days before your 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.

• No refunds will be given for unused hotel bookings due to schedule changes, late arrivals, etc.

• Mountain Trip reserves the right to cancel an expedition prior to the departure date for any reason. In the event that the expedition is cancelled based solely on an internal administrative decision by Mountain Trip (Internal Cancellation), all monies, except for nonrefundable administrative fees, collected by Mountain Trip from team members for the canceled expedition shall be refunded within 30 days. That is the extent of our financial liability for such cancellations. This Internal Cancellation provision shall not apply when external factors that force Mountain Trip to cancel an expedition against its will, including, but not limited to, international political upheaval, terrorism, drought/famine, epidemics/pandemics, and/or cancellations imposed by foreign or domestic governments or permitting agencies (External Cancellation). All External Cancellations shall not be subject to a refund unless such cancellation occurs prior to the deadlines set forth in the Refund and Cancellation policies, above.

The following applies only if all expedition fees are paid by the date they are due:

If Mountain Trip cancels your expedition due to External Cancellation factors resulting from coronavirus more than 90 days prior to the Team Meeting date, Mountain Trip will credit 100% of your paid expedition fees toward a future program with Mountain Trip or refund all monies paid except for the non-refundable administrative fee.

If Mountain Trip cancels your expedition due to External Cancellation factors resulting from coronavirus 90 days or less prior to the Team Meeting date, Mountain Trip will credit 75% of your paid expedition fees toward a future program with Mountain Trip or refund 50% of your expedition fee.

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.

We’ll update our equipment list when we start running Elbrus trips again!

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