This trip combines some excellent ski-touring with the possibility to ascent the highest summit in Europe - Mt. Elbrus. In winter time valleys, passes and mountains of the Caucasus offer exceptionally fine ski-touring in virtually undeveloped surroundings. The snow conditions are generally superb in spring and the mountains are beautiful and not spoilt. We will fly to Mineralny Vody in the northern Caucasus and drive to the Ullu-Tau lodge located at 2350m in the remote upper sections of the Adyrsu Valley. We will start touring almost from the hotel door generally following glaciers to passes and summits ranging from 3572m to 3900m. After four days touring in the Adyrsu Valley we drive to the Baksan Valley. The Baksan Valley is the most important and best developed valley in the Caucasus, partly because of the mineral wealth located near Tyrnyauz and partly on account of Elbrus at its head and the hundreds of magnificent mountains which comprise it’s watershed. Almost at the end of the Baksan Valley, at the foot of Elbrus, lies Terskol - the Chamonix of the Caucasus. It boasts about half a dozen hotels and two ski lift systems. There is a possibility for another several tours in the area viewing the highest peak in Europe - Mt Elbrus, which we attempt at the end of our trip. We use the Elbrus cable car and chairlift system to transfer to the Garabashi huts at 3800m on the south slopes of the mountain. This is our base for the three nights from where we will make an attempt to the west summit of Elbrus. Depending on the conditions we may use a snow cat for the part of the ascent and then ski up as far as possible. Crampons and ice axes may be required on the upper slopes which are easy angled but often icy in the morning hours.
ACCOMODATION AND FOOD
All accommodation and all your meals are included in the trip cost. In the cities good quality hotels are used with en-suite facilities. The hotel in the Baksan Valley is pleasantly situated and friendly; rooms are generally double, facilities are en-suite but some being shared between two rooms. Accommodation in Adyr-su Valley is in the lodge of Ullu-Tau Alpine Camp - totally for 12-14 people. This is the only place you can accommodate in springtime in the area. You have not except much comfort at the alpine camp but fantastic ski-touring routs with unbroken slopes and superb views will compensate it. On Elbrus itself we stay either in Huts with mattresses. During the ski-touring you will be served some lights snack and hot drinks carried by your guides. Food while staying at the mountain hut on Elbrus is prepared by our own cooks from fresh foods supplemented by supplies. As the variety of foods available in Russia is rather limited we recommend that you bring with you a small selection of "goodies" - chocolates, nuts etc. which you are particularly fond of. These will be useful especially at times when the altitude might reduce your appetite for main meals or when you need energy for the final summit push.
GRADE AND QUALIFICATION
The skiing is demanding and familiarity with ski-touring essential. For the ascent of Elbrus crampons will be required and experience in their use would be very useful.
The chief guide will be a leading member of the local rescue services, an expert skier and accomplished mountaineer who speaks fluent English. He will be assisted by a second Russian mountain guide.
EQUIPMENT, WEATHER AND CLOTHES
Good clothing and mountain equipment are essential for a safe and enjoyable trip; special attention should be paid to skies, rucksack, bindings, skins, footwear and socks. Your leader will hold a briefing prior to the start of the skiing to go through the itinerary and to check any other relevant matter such as equipment. If necessary ropes will be available and guides will ask you to put them on when crossing dangerous terrain. Should you feel a need for the security of a rope at other times you must ask the guide to provide it. The weather on Mount Elbrus can deteriorate rapidly and storms can be very violent. If the guide recommends turning back please accept his judgment. Skiing accidents in remote regions have very serious implications. Emergencies in the hills are usually dealt with efficiently, but medical facilities are not up to Western European standards. In the interests of the safety and well-being of the group the leader’s decisions will be final. If for some unforeseen problem you have to curtail your trip you will be accompanied back to the base hotel or nearest and most appropriate airport. No refund can be made on a trip cut short in this way. In this case and if you leave the group on your own volition you will have to meet the extra costs incurred.
Day 1. Arrive in Mineralnye Vody. Drive to the Adyr-Su Valley. "Ullu-Tau" Camp. Night at a lodge (2350m).
Day 2. Ski-tour from the hotel towards Garvash Pass up to 3400m, 4 hours. Descent to the lodge.
Day 3. Ski-tour to the Chot-chat summit (3550m), 5-6 hours. Descent to the lodge.
Day 4. Ski-tour to the Gumachi Pass (3582m), 5-6 hours. Descent to the lodge.
Day 5. Ski-tour to the Granovsky Pass (3870m), 6-7 hours. Descent to the lodge.
Day 6. Drive by bus to Terskol town in the Baksan valley. Hotel in Terskol (2100m).
Day 7. Ski-tour to the Cheget Karabashi summit (3400m), 4 hours. Descent to the hotel.
Day 8. Drive to the Adyl-Su Valley and ski tour towards the East Jantugan Pass (3600m), 5-6 hrs. Descend to the Adyl-Su Valley and drive back to the hotel.
Day 9. From the hotel about 30 min walk by the forest and then ski tour to the Maly Kogutai Peak 3800m (7 hours). Descent to the hotel.
Day 10. Use the Elbrus lift system to reach Garabashi Huts (3800m). Overnight at the huts.
Day 11. Acclimatisation ski tour up to the Pastukhov Rocks at 4700m. Descend to the huts.
Day 12. Ascend Mt Elbrus. Overnight at the huts.
Day 13. Spare day to attempt Elbrus.
Day 14. Drive to Mineralnye Vody airport.
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