Climb Mount Elbrus

14 Days in Russia / (Skill level: Introductory)

Price per person

$6,450.00

About this trip

Climb Mount Elbrus, Europe’s Seven Summit and explore St. Petersburg and Moscow. For proficient backcountry skiers, there is the possibility of skiing. Our local logistics operators guide us in understanding the cultural significance of the Elbrus region.

Overview

  • skill level

    Introductory

  • Duration

    14 Days

Mt. Elbrus, a dormant double-coned volcano, rises to 18,510′ / 5642m. Its double peaks tower over the stunning western Caucasus Region of Russia, near the border of Georgia. Elbrus is the highest point in all of Europe (& Russia), making this climb one of the renowned ‘Seven Summits’. Boasting 22 glaciers on the peak, this is the perfect introductory climb for anyone with a strong fitness level who wishes to build glacier climbing skills, climb a moderate high altitude peak, and explore the fascinating and diverse Russian culture in the Caucasus mountains and the famed cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Alpenglow Expeditions climbs Elbrus from the accessible south side, which benefits from the use of snowcats and chairlifts to gain altitude and mountain huts for sleeping. This means that you only have to carry a small pack on all of your climbing days, allowing you to enjoy your summit experience much more. Lots of time is spent acquiring the necessary skills to climb a glaciated snow and ice route, and the terrain creates a perfect progression from low angled cramponing early on the mountain to more exposed and steeper slopes on summit day.

Our trip begins in the cosmopolitan city of St. Petersburg, City of the Tsars. One simply could not visit Russia without seeing this city, known as the Venice of the North. We then travel to Mineral Voldy and begin our acclimatization and climb. The first few days are focused on day trips that allow us to acclimatize and develop glacier climbing skills. After that we move up to a mountain hut known as the Barrels. Thanks to our local Russian support team, we will continue to eat well and carry only light packs, even at this camp high on the mountain.

Summit day on Elbrus is strenuous and long. We wake around 3 am and have a quick breakfast before boarding a snowcat to take us to our previous high point on the mountain at 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). From there we don crampons, rope, and ice axe and begin the climb. As the sun rises we will be high on the mountain, with the sun giving us energy for the final push. From the summit we will enjoy well deserved views of the surrounding peaks before making a quick descent back to the hut.

After descending to the valley, we fly to Russia’s capitol and Europe’s largest city, Moscow located on the Moskva River. We will visit the famed Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin and Red Square and celebrate our climb in this historically and economically significant city.

Our Mt. Elbrus expedition will be led by one of Alpenglow’s lead guides. Our guides are fully certified AMGA/IFMGA guides. We will be supported by a great team of Russian guides and a cook. Their experience and local knowledge will not only make your trip more comfortable, they will also add to your understanding of this mountain and the local people.

If you are an advanced skier with backcountry (off-piste) experience, it is also possible to arrange to ski Mt. Elbrus. Since ski mountaineering is one of Alpenglow’s guides favorite activities, we would love to arrange a ski descent for you! Please call us to discuss this option.

Preparation

  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

  • Technical Experience

    No technical climbing experience required.

  • Altitude Experience

    No prior experience at altitude required.

    • Day 1 — Arrival

      Arrive in St. Petersburg, where you will meet your guides. Transfer to our hotel and have a team dinner. (Saturday)

    • Day 2 — Explore St. Petersberg

      Explore St. Petersburg, perhaps Russia’s most beautiful and interesting city. Russia’s cultural hub is a fascinating mix of historical sights and trendy modernism. We will spend the entire day touring the city, and will visit the famed Hermitage, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Fortress of Peter and Paul.

    • Day 3 — Fly to Mineral Voldy

      Fly to Mineral Voldy and travel by bus to Terskol in the Baksan Valley. This short flight should give us excellent views of the Caucasus and possibly our first peak of Mt. Elbrus. The bus ride is 3-4 hours but will pass quickly with the stunning views. Our hotel in Terskol is new, next to the ski lifts, and has excellent local and international food.

    • Day 4 — Acclimatization Hike

      Today we take an acclimatization hike in the stunning Baksan Valley. Steep paths wind all through the valley and many options exist, including possibly using one of the local ski lifts to gain more altitude. We return to our hotel for the night.

    • Day 5 — Hike and Skills on the Glacier

      While continuing to acclimatize we hike to a local glacier and spend half the day teaching and reviewing crampon and ice axe technique. This practice is essential for safety and efficiency on Elbrus. We return to the hotel for the night.

    • Day 6 — Move to The Barrels

      Today we begin our actual climb of Mt. Elbrus. Through a combination of ski lifts and hiking we arrive at The Barrels, cozy mountain huts at 12,300 feet (3,750 meters) on Elbrus. To ensure we stay well fed and healthy, we will have a Russian cook with us at the huts preparing mountain food and making our stay more comfortable.

    • Day 7 — Climb to Pastukhov Rocks

      Climb to Pastukhov Rocks at approximately 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). As well as a chance to practice our glacier and crampon skills, this is also an important climb for acclimatization and a great time to see the route on the mountain in daylight. We return to the Barrels for the night.

    • Day 8 — Rest and Skills Day

      Rest and practice additional crevasse rescue and advanced glacier skills. Since tonight’s climb is quite long and will require all of our energy, it is important we conserve, while also eating and hydrating as much as we can today. Night in the Barrels.

    • Day 9 — Summit Day

      Summit Day! We wake around 3 AM for a quick breakfast and hot drink. An optional snow-cat (weather dependent) takes us to our previous highpoint at Pastukhov Rocks, just below 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). From there it is almost 4,000 vertical feet (1,220 meters) to the summit of Elbrus, primarily on open moderately angled glaciers. We should reach the summit mid-morning and have stunning views of the Caucuses from Europe’s highest summit. The round-trip climb back to the hut takes around twelve hours.

    • Day 10 — Weather Day

      An extra summit day. If we have already climbed Elbrus, we descend to the Baksan Valley today. Night in Hut or Hotel.

    • Day 11 — Return to Baksan

      Return to our hotel in the Baksan Valley. If we have already descended this day can be spent hiking, climbing, or just relaxing and celebrating our ascent.

    • Day 12 — Head back to Moscow

      Drive back to Mineral Voldy and fly to Moscow. After checking into our hotel we will wander the city and eat a fantastic dinner.

    • Day 13 — Explore Moscow

      Spend the day exploring Moscow, visiting the Kremlin, Cathedrals, and Red Square.

    • Day 14 — Departure

      Depart Moscow for home. (Friday)

      • Head

      • Smith I/O goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses that are appropriate for bright and low-light conditions. Ventilation and anti-fog features are recommended.

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      • Kaenon Klay sunglasses

        Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap recommended (Chums or Croakies).

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      • SmartWool Balaclava

        We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet still comfy.

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      • Patagonia Lined Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that your beanie fits under a helmet. We also recommend the Marmot Summit Hat.

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      • Marmot PreCip Baseball Hat

        A great hat to help keep the sun out of your eyes and keep you cool on warm days.

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      • Hands

      • Black Diamond guide glove

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). The warmer the liner the better.

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      • Marmot Windstopper glove

        You will rarely take these gloves off.  They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm.

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      • Feet

      • LaSportiva Bushido hiking shoe

        These light to mid-weight shoes are for every day use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow. High top hiking boots are heavy and unnecessary.

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      • LaSportiva Batura

        Boots should have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8th of an inch when walking.

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      • Darn Tough 1/4 cushion hiking sock

        These are your every day sock, good for day hikes, trekking and town days.

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      • Darn Tough Cushion boot sock

        Your go-to mountain sock. It is very important to dial in your boot/ sock combo, as everyone will have a slightly different fit in their boots. Merino wool has become a guides favorite, and we have found these socks to be a solid performer.  NO COTTON.

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      • Upper Body

      • Icebreaker long sleeve Top

        A merino or poly-pro base layer that you will wear often. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying.

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      • Marmot Greenland Jacket

        A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight.

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      • Marmot Minimalist Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. PacLite® is preferred for lightweight.

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      • Marmot ROM softshell jacket

        While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation.

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      • Patagonia Nanopuff jacket

        Warmer than your expedition weight top, but not as extreme as your big puffy jacket. Full zip is recommended.

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      • Patagonia R1 hoody

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will wear often. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation.

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      • Patagonia tropic comfort hoody

        This lite weight hoody has become a guide favorite for almost every day spent in the mountains. This layer can be worn on hot or cold days, and shields you from the sun during long hours spent outside.

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      • Icebreaker Tech Lite shirt

        Light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days.  We have found that merino wool is the superior material for base layers, as they regulate body temperature very well, and are extremely odor resistant.

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      • Lower Body

      • Arc'teryx Atom LT insulated pants

        Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers.

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      • Marmot Minimalist Pant

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets.

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      • Marmot Scree Pant

        You will spend most of your days in these pants. Choose Schoeller® or a soft-shell equivalent. Breathable + water-resistant. These pants should have an ankle zip so they will accommodate your mountain boot.

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      • Patagonia expedition weight bottoms

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. The mid-weight will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

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      • Icebreaker long underwear

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. This base-layer will get you through a wide range of temperatures. NO COTTON.

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      • Patagonia Shorts

        Throw these on under other layers for when the sun begins to beat, or you have a sudden urge to jump in a glacial lake. Lightweight, durable and comfortable. NO COTTON.

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      • Equipment

      • Black Diamond HotWire Carabiner

        Lightweight, non-locking carabiner.

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      • Black Diamond VaporLock Screwgate Carabiner

        Lightweight, locking carabiner.

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      • Black Diamond ATC-XP belay device

        Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes.

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      • Black Diamond Raven Ultra ice axe

        Non-technical ice tool, 50-60 cm long. Make sure axe has a comfortable hold, and is lightweight.

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      • Nalgene 1 liter water bottle

        Two Lexan 1 liter, wide mouth bottles.

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      • Black Diamond Trekking Poles

        Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable. You must have at least one, but we recommend 2.

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      • Black Diamond Serac crampon

        Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. * crampons are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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      • Petzl Sitta harness

        Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable or stretchable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. *Harnesses are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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      • Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required.. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp.

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      • Marmot Col sleeping bag

        Rated to -20º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. Recommended: Granite Gear Compression Sack.

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      • Therm-a-rest NeoAir Therm sleeping pad

        72 inch long inflatable pad required. Make sure you also purchase and bring a repair kit + bag for the sleeping pad.

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      • Marmot Long Hauler Duffel

        These bags should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big! You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying.

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      • Black Diamond Speed 50 pack

        Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. This pack should be comfortable, lightweight and fitted to your body.

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      • Black Diamond Bullet pack

        A small pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters). This pack is also great to use for your carry on luggage.

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      • Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
    • Would you consider organizing a custom expedition to Elbrus?

      Yes! We love arranging custom itineraries that can suit your parameters.

    • What level of fitness is required?

      Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

    • I don’t have all the required equipment. Do you rent gear?

      Yes, we provide the following gear at no charge for our climbing schools. Helmet, harness, crampons, ice axe, boots and carabiners/ cord. Please note- this equipment is available on a first come, first served basis, so please make your reservations early!

    • Do I really need to purchase trip and rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing both types of insurance. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. Rescue insurance can help cover costs in the event that you decide to end your expedition early. We recommend purchasing Travel Guard and Global Rescue. You can find links to both of these insurance companies by heading over to our Partners page.

Zeb Blais

From bushwhacking miles of Manzanita in ski boots to traversing huge glaciers in exotic ranges, adventure draws Zeb in. Originally from Vermont, Zeb has been hooked on big mountains since his first ski tour in Jackson Hole and has pursued skiing, climbing and exploring ever since. Zeb has climbed and guided in the Himalaya, Alaska, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Asia among others and he’s working hard to keep that list growing. Working as a mountain guide allows Zeb to share his passion for human powered movement in the mountains and to pass along what he’s learned along the way.

Zeb has successfully guided Mt Everest [29,029′], Mt Cho Oyu [26,906′] including a ski descent from the summit, Lobuche East [20,075′],  and four expeditions on Denali [20,320’], including a ski descent from the summit. He has completed 64 summits of Mount Rainier [14,410’]. Additional credentials include 12 summits of Mount Shasta [14,179’]; 5 summits of Mount Shuksan [9,100’]; 3 summits via Mount Baker [10,678’], including one ski descent from the summit, and two ski descents via the North Ridge; 2 summits of Aconcagua [22,841’]; 1 summit of Cotopaxi and 1 summit of Cayabme; 2 summits of Ixtacihuatl in Mexico; 3 summits of Orizaba in Mexico, including a ski descent from the summit; and numerous rock, alpine and ski summits from the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Coast ranges and Rockies.

Zeb is an AMGA certified ski guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Ben Mitchell

Ben has been in love with the mountains from a young age. He began hiking and skiing with his family and quickly decided he never wanted to stop. After finishing university in Portland, OR Ben moved back to Washington State and began guiding on Mt. Rainier and around the Cascades. For the next many years he followed the seasons, skiing, climbing and pursuing the art of human flight through out the world. He has made expeditions into both polar circles, skied first descents in Afghanistan and climbed throughout the Americas and Europe. When not looking forward to the next adventure he thoroughly enjoys roasting coffee, reading and taking his dog out for walks.

Ben is a fully certified IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Logan Talbott

Director of Operations / Guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over 10 years in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan keeps things running smoothly as the director of operations at Alpenglow Expeditions. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is an IFMGA aspirant mountain guide, a certified Ski and Rock Guide through the AMGA, an Avalanche course leader through AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and spotted dog Arlo.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Chad Peele

Chad Peele has been guiding for 15 years and works full time as a mountain guide. Based out of Ridgway Colorado, Chad spends his winters instructing and guiding on some of the best ice terrain the U.S. has to offer. Outside of Colorado he has traveled and guided extensively throughout North and South America with several trips to the Himalayas including Everest and Ama Dablam. When not in the Mountains Chad does clothing and equipment design for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent outdoor line.

Chad is a AMGA certified Rock & Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Jaime Avila

Jaime is Alpenglow Expeditions’ senior lead guide. A native Ecuadorian, Jaime has been guiding and climbing throughout South America and the world for twenty years. He has successfully led groups on challenging routes like the Southwest Ridge of Ama Dablam (Nepal), the Shield Route of Huascaran (Peru), the Polish Direct on Aconcagua (Argentina), and El Altar (Ecuador). We have been guiding, climbing, and traveling with Jaime since 1998 and the feedback from members is always the same: there is no better teammate. Whether climbing a tough ice route, humping a huge pack, or stuck in a storm, Jaime will keep you laughing, learning, and glad to be in the mountains. He is an ASEGUIM certified mountain guide.

 

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM

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