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.
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 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.