Mount Elbrus Rapid Ascent

6 Days in Russia / (Skill level: Introductory)

Price per person

  • Next Available: Aug 08, 2020 - Aug 13, 2020
    Optional Extension Through

About this trip

Climb Mount Elbrus in six days with Alpenglow's cutting edge Rapid Ascent style. Pre-acclimatize for 4 weeks at home and arrive on the mountain within 2 days of leaving home.


  • skill level


  • Duration

    6 Days

Mount Elbrus – 18,510’/5,642m

Mt. Elbrus, a dormant, double-coned volcano, rises to 18,510 feet. (5,642 meters) 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 climb for anyone with a strong fitness level who wishes to build on basic glacier climbing skills, climb a moderate high altitude peak, and explore the fascinating and diverse Russian culture in the Caucasus mountains and the famed city of Moscow.

Rapid Ascent of Mount Elbrus

Rapid Ascent is achieved by utilizing Hypoxico tents for 1 month prior to departure (this is required & the tent rental fee is included in cost of trip). Arriving in Russia pre-acclimatized through the Rapid Ascent system, we are able to complete this typically 2-week expedition in only 6 days. We have had great success with pre-acclimatization in the highest mountain ranges of the world and strongly suggest this method as a way of staying healthy and strong on traditionally long expeditions and ultimately, having a greater chance of summit success.

Climb from the South Side of Mount Elbrus

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. Time is spent reviewing 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 meets in the small city of Mineral Voldy and then travels to Elbrus where we base in mountain huts 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.

After 2 days of skills practice and moving up the mountain, we make our summit push. 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 and celebrating our climb, we depart for Mineral Vody. We recommend adding a couple of days in Moscow on your way home!

Climb with Certified Guides

Our Mt. Elbrus expedition will be led by one of Alpenglow’s AMGA-certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. 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 the Alpenglow guide team’s favorite activities, we would love to arrange a ski descent for you! Please call us to discuss this option.


  • 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 — Arrive in Mineral Vody

      Arrive in Mineral Vody, where you will meet your guides. 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. Once we arrive we will have our first team meeting, check equipment and prepare to climb!

    • Day 2 — Move up to Mount Elbrus

      Today we begin our climb of Mt. Elbrus. Thanks to our Rapid Ascent preparation and pre-acclimatization with Hypoxico tents, we can move to altitude immediately. 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. We spend the afternoon near the Barrels reviewing glacier travel skills - roped travel, crampon and ice axe technique.

    • Day 3 — Acclimatize Hike 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 by midday, and rest and hydrate for our summit climb.

    • Day 4 — 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 Barrels takes around twelve hours.

    • Day 5 — Weather Day

      An extra summit day. If we have already climbed Elbrus, we descend to the Baksan Valley in the morning for a celebration. Night in Hotel.

    • Day 6 — Depart

      Drive back to Mineral Voldy where you catch your flights home, onto Moscow or perhaps elsewhere in Russia! Flights should not depart before noon local time.

    • What is Rapid Ascent?

      Rapid Ascent is a unique program developed by Alpenglow Expeditions that combines the relatively new application of hypoxic training with precise logistics and small team sizes to greatly increase the chances of success while reducing the overall time spent away from home on an international expedition.

    • 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.

    • Do I really need to purchase rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing trip insurance, and we require rescue insurance on all expeditions. 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 Global Rescue for both types of insurance . Again, Rescue insurance is required for this trip.

Gaspar Navarrete

Gaspar hails from Ecuador, and has been guiding for over 18 years, and climbing since he was 12. He has extensive experience in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Patagonia, Aconcagua, the Himalaya, the Cascades, the Alps and the Pyrenees. Gaspar has established new routes in both Ecuador and Bolivia. As an active instructor with the Ecuadorian School for Mountain Guides, he has trained in Ecuador, Bolivia and France. He is a Wilderness First Responder, and has spent a great deal of time working at high altitude.

Gaspar joined one of Quito’s oldest climbing clubs at a young age, which gave him the opportunity to mentor under very experienced climbers. He considers the Andes, including Patagonia, his home, and he love to share his enthusiasm for the mountains, the Andean traditions, food and culture with his guests.

Gaspar is an ASEGUIM/IFMGA mountain guide

Guide Certifications
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Esteban “Topo” Mena

Topo’s formal name is Esteban Mena, but he goes by his nickname. Esteban Topo Mena is 28 years old and began his guiding career at 19, when he climbed Aconcagua’s South Face and became the youngest person to accomplish this difficult climb. Topo began guiding in Ecuador and Peru. In 2012, Topo summited Manaslu and in 2013, he summited Everest – both without using supplementary oxygen. Topo again summited Everest in 2016 while supporting his wonderful partner Carla as she successfully summited without supplemental oxygen. In 2018 Topo summited both Cho Oyu and Everest with clients in under 30 days. An incredible achievement that only the best guides in the word could attempt. He also has climbed challenging new routes in Kyrgyzstan and China and one of his climbs (Kyzyl Asker) has been nominated for the Piolet d’Or (as part of an Ecuadorian team).

Guide Certifications
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain 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 an IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

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

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    Mount Elbrus Rapid Ascent