The double-breasted summit of Elbrus can be seen for miles around from different parts of the Caucasus region. Both East (5621 m) and West (5642 m) summits are permanently covered with snow. Many of the remote side valleys where it is possible to have some acclimatization training are seldom visited even by locals.
Our standard trip is 13 days. During the first we week we train in using an ice axe and crampons and have a good number of acclimatization walks.
The trip begins with the arrival in Mineralnye Vody and driving to the base hotel in the Baksan Valley. From the hotel we make several trips following beautiful forested valleys, walking through alpine meadows, crossing glaciated mountain passes and climbing some of the easiest summits which provide superb panoramas of the Caucasus Range. These initial trips will be porter supported and will involve camping and backpacking. They will provide us with fitness and acclimatization necessary for the ascent of Elbrus itself. For the ascent of Elbrus we use a cable car system to take us to the height of about 3800 m. We stay in the Garabashi Huts (3800 m) or Diesel Hut (4100 m). The actual program will depend on the weather, group condition and the availability of a snowcat which we will use according to the group’s wish to help us up the lower slopes of the mountain (if available and necessary).
Health Matters and Documents
An emergency medical kit accompanies the climb. Nevertheless we recommend you to carry your own personal first aid kit. A suggested list of contents as well as more general health information is included in pre-departure information. No special inoculations are required but we recommend to have inoculations up to date and to consult a doctor for other cover such as typhoid. Check if the insurance is up to date and covers mountain risk.
The following itinerary is intended as a working guide only and is a subject to variation as a result of changes in airline schedules, local conditions, weather and governmental restrictions. We reserve the right to alter (lengthen or shorten) the trek at any time if necessary.
Day 1: Arrive in Mineralnye Vody, on the plains north of the Caucasus. Drive by private bus to Terskol town (see pictures) (about 3,5 hours) the hotel in the Baksan Valley, near Elbrus (the altitude is 2100 metres).
Day 2: Our trek starts with a pleasant walk over the Suaryk Pass. From the hotel we'll drive 50 km to the Tyrnyauz Gorge, 2400 m, then walk up to the Suaryk Pass, 3210 m. The route of the trek is quite simple but very picturesque. Descent to the Kyrtyk Valley. Overnight in a tent camp.
3 hours up, 800 m, 3 hours down, 800 m.
Day 3: Walk up to the Syltran lake, 3200 m, one of the largest lakes in the Caucasus . The route goes along the nice valley and then to the Syltran Pass, 3430 m. Then descent to the tent camp, 2510 m, on the confluence of the Kyrtyk & Mkiara valleys. 7 hours. Up, 1100 m, down 900 m.
Day 4: Walk up to the Kyrtykaush Pass, 3230 m. From the pass there is a great view to the unknown and beautiful Islamchat Gorge, which leads to the northern foothills of Mount Elbrus. Return back to the camp.
4 hours up, 2 hours down.
Day 5: Cross the glaciated Irik Pass, 3750 m, to a campsite in the forest lower down in the beautiful Irik valley. Overnight in a tent camp, 2750 m. 6 hours up, 1200 m, 3 hours down, 1000 m.
Day 6: Walk up to the Irikchat Pass, 3660 m. The pass is situated right under the lava flow on the East slope from the East top of Elbrus, 5621 m. From the pass, it is possible to see the North slope of Elbrus, and a part of its South slope. 4 hours up, 2 hours down.
Day 7: In the morning we'll descent from the Irik Valley, pass the Irik Gorge with a waterfall and sand castles and from the Elbrus village, 1800 m, drive to the hotel in the Baksan Valley. In the afternoon there is free time to relax, have a sauna or walk around in Terskol. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 8: 15 min drive to the Azau station. We take the cable car/chair lift system up Elbrus and stay in the Garabashi Huts at 3800 m or the Diesel Hut at 4100 m.
Day 9: Acclimatisation walk to the Pastukhova Rocks at 4800 m. Return to the hut.
Day 10: We begin in the early morning hours to ascend the highest of Elbrus' twin peaks - the West Summit. You carry your day pack with the day's requirements. We return to spend the night at the hut.
Day 11: Spare day to attempt Elbrus if the weather on the previous day was bad (otherwise return to the hotel).
Day 12: Return to the hotel. Relax and perhaps enjoy one of the fine walks from the hotel.
Day 13: Drive to Mineralnye Vody for the flight home.
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