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Elbrus Programme Description:
The reliable snowcat we took on summit day (Scott Patch). Jules getting off chairlift in Cheget. Top tram terminal (right) and bottom of ski lift to just below barrels.
Food and gear awaiting snowcat trip to huts. Transporting gear, form top of last tram terminal, to just below barrel Huts. View from tram looking back up baskan valley. Towns of Azau, Terskol and Cheget.
Please "click" one of the links on the column on the upper right of the screen under Elbrus to learn more about our expedition. back to top
*** This cost is per summit attempt.
***Arrange this in advance while booking trip
Equipment Transport: Our expedition includes transport of all of your equipment from Piatigorsk to our destination, and returned to Piatigorsk. While trekking to basecamp, we DO NOT ask our members to carry heavy group equipment (although it is an option if you really want to), such as rope, fuel, food, etcetera. We have trams and snowcats to carry personal and group equipment to basecamp. Some help shuttling food and gear is appreciated.back to top
barrel huts. Ms. Pramila Kumari resting behind beautiful mountain.
Cooks and Food: Meals along the expedition are prepared for you. Once we reach basecamp huts on Elbrus, fresh, tasty food and hot drinks are prepared for the group in a full kitchen in a dining hut. The leaders help make sure members cook and fill water bottles above basecamp.
Group Equipment: We provide a plethora of top-quality, and time-tested equipment, group gear, and supplies, including: rope, ice, rock, and snow anchor protection; basecamp; cookers, fuel, high-altitude food, walkie-talkie radios, etcetera. Please see the above EQUIPMENT link , to study what we bring for your use and safety. back to top
Staff: Our staff, working together through local agencies, are hospitality experts and have, for many years, been arranging overland tours, safaris, raft trips, treks, mountain climbs, trek support staff, cooks, peak climbing permits, satellite phone permits, video and film-making permits, translators, liaison officers, porters, helicopter flights, air tickets, equipment purchase/hire, storage, import/export, shipping, customs clearance, transport bookings, advance hotel bookings, visas, repatriations, and permits.
Safety:All members have access to our extensive communications equipment, medical supplies, first-aid kits, etc in case of emergency. Thank you for being a well-prepared and safe team member! back to top
All members must arrive on the first day of the scheduled itinerary and plan on staying until the last day (unless you have made special arrangements).
1) Fly to Mineralyne Vody (airport 3 letter code: MRV), 20 minute (approx $20.00 USD) taxi to hotel in Piatigorsk. Food shopping and money exchange into Russian Rubles.
2) 4 hour bus travel to a hotel in Azau Village in the Baksan Valley (2200 m) . Equipment and clothing check, as well as orientation. Excursion to local bazaar and light hiking in the surrounding valley. Opportunity to rent or purchase needed equipment in Azau or Cheget;
3) Acclimatization day. Acclimatization ascent (using ski lifts if possible) of Cheget Mountain (3450 m). Overnight stay in Azau Hotel;
4) Ride Tram and Ski Lifts. Acclimatization hike on Elbrus slopes up to 4200 m. Descent to the valley. Overnight stay in the Azau Hotel;
5) Ride Tram & Ski Lift. Set up base camp at Barrels huts (3800 m.) or huts above Diesel Hut (4100 m.) Acclimatization hike up to 4500 m. Basic ice/snow/rope/self-belay practice. Overnight stay in the hut;
6) Acclimatization hike up to 4900 m. Overnight stay at the hut;
7) Summit day. Leave base camp about 3-4 am for the climb of Elbrus' west summit(5642 m). Descend to base camp. Overnight stay at the hut;
8) Reserve day descent (ski lift) and transfer to Mineralnye Vody, hostel Nights / VP.
9) Home- Say goodbye to new friends and depart Piatigorsk by taxi to Mineralyne Vody (MRV) airport and home.
This proposed itinerary permits enough time for proper acclimatization with rest days and allows the kitchen and base camp staff to look after all of your needs, and indulge your appetite. The weather at this time of year is normally quite good and stable. However, we all know the global weather is changing, and in case of storms, you will note the proposed itinerary includes extra days as well. In previous expeditions, half of those who reached the summit needed every single "extra" day.
Arriving in MineralyneVody-
The trip begins at the MineralyneVody airport (MRV). From the airport you’ll take a short (approx. 20 min) taxi ride to our tourist class hotel in Pyatigorsk, Russia.
Pyatigorsk is a town with over 140,000 inhabitants. The name Pyatigorsk comes from the fused Russian words "пятьгор" (five mountains), which the city is so called because of the five peaks of the Beshtau (which also means five mountains in Turkic) of the Caucasian mountain range overlooking the city. Pyatigorsk is one of 116 historical towns of the Russian Federation and is well known in the Caucasus region for its excellent restaurants and nightlife, as well as for its extremely large marketplace. A major thoroughfare that is known to locals as "Broadway" runs through the center of the city, and it is where most of the best restaurants, nightclubs, and attractions are located.
In Pyatigorsk we will meet our team members, exchange money at a local bank, food shop for any snacks you might want on the expedition and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this Russian city. Back to Top
Once we depart Pyatigorsk, we travel for about 4 hours, driving from Pyatigorsk to Azau, Russia.Azau is the highest village at the end of the Baksan valley. The Baksan valley travels thru the Central Caucasus’. The Caucasus Main Range is considered to be a border between Europe, to the North, and Asia to the South. The Main Range is also a state border between Russia and Georgia. Both countries were partof the former USSR country but now are independent states. The two main Mt. Elbrus summits are about 11 km (6.8 miles) to the North from the Main Range, inside European territory. The West Summit is Europe’s highest point at 5642 m (18,510 ft).Mount Elbrus is vastly glaciated; Glaciations area (more then 50 glaciers) is about 144 square km (56 square miles).
Snow-line (in August) - 3400 m (11,155 ft).
In Azau we will stay in a comfortable tourist hotel with shared en-suite accommodations. Here in Azau we will acclimatize, rest and get to know our other team members.
Entering the Baskan valley on our drive from Pyatigorsk. Photo Pramila Kumari. Cheget mountain village with Caucasus range looming above village. Photo Scott Patch.
We will acclimatize by hiking in local hills and mountains,hiking the upper slopes of Mt Cheget, 3650 m (11,975 ft) or to the Baksan Neutrino Observatory …. both places giving us excellent views of Elbrus and the surrounding Caucasus Range. On our last day in Azau we will take the ski lifts up the slopes of Elbrus for higher acclimatization reaching about 4200 m (13,780 ft). Each of these hikes helps us acclimatize and prepare for our summit attempt, with plenty of time to rest, visit the local shops, restaurants or just enjoy the mountain town of Azau. We will also have time during these 2 days to purchase or rent any equipment we might need for the coming days on the slopes of Elbrus. Back to Top
Jules Lewis and Scott Patch reviewing safety equipment after a day of acclimatization in the mountains above Cheget. Photo Pramila Kumari. Scott Patch with one of our local Russian guides, Alexander Eliseev, riding the lift at Mount Cheget Resort. Photo Jules Lewis. Dinner at our hotel in Azau, Russia at the base of Mount Elbrus. Photo Scott Patch.
Team photo on Cheget Peak with Elbrus in background. Photo Scott Patch. Picturesque Mount Cheget (Донгуз-Орунбаши), 4468 m (14,659 ft), from the slopes of Cheget Peak above the resort village. Photo Pramila Kumari.
After a couple of days of acclimatizing in Azau, and the surrounding mountains, we will move up to our basecamp on the slopes of Elbrus. We will spend a good portion of the morning carrying our personal gear, food, fuel and cooking supplies up to the huts on the slopes of Elbrus. Most of this will be done via the ski lifts and snow cats (if necessary). After settling in to our group accommodations we will make an acclimatizing hike further up the slopes of Elbrus to about 4500 m (14,764 ft). If conditions and time permit we will practice basic ice/snow/rope/self-belay techniques. We will return to our base camp hut for great food, hydration, rest and to enjoy the beautiful mountains around us. The following day we will make another acclimatizing hike on the slopes of Elbrus to about 4900 m (16,076 ft). We will again practice safe snow techniques and return to our basecamp for great food, rest and to prepare for our summit attempt the following morning (if weather permits). Back to Top
Our comfortable group sleeping huts and Elbrus base camp with the Caucasus in background.Photo Ryan Vlasek. Pramila with our Russian cook in our heated dining hut at Elbrus base camp. Photo Pramila Kumari. Expedition members eating dinner in our dining hut at Elbrus base camp. Photo Scott Patch
We have allowed 3 days for our summit attempt to give us every opportunity for weather or possibly a second attempt, if necessary.On our summit morning we will awake early in preparation for our summit bid and take the snow cat to 4500 m, 4700 m or 5100 m (the snow cat ride is determined by group consensus and costs are covered by individual members).The route heads up from the Pashtuhova Rocks to about 5100 m (16,732 ft) where we turn and traverse to the saddle separating the East and West summits of Elbrus. The saddle elevation is about 5350 m (17,552 ft). Here we will take a nice food and water break and prepare for our final leg up the West Summit to the top of Elbrus at 5642 m (18,510 ft). We will then return to our Basecamp and either overnight in the huts or pack up and return to Azau (depending on which day we summit).
Climbers almost to saddle on summit day with Mount Ushba (Ушба), 4,710 m (15,453 ft), in background. Ushba is known as the "Matterhorn of the Caucasus" for its picturesque, spire-shaped double summit. Photo Scott Patch. Team members, Ryan Vlasek, Andrea Devoe, Terry Schuck and Scott Patch on the summit of Mount Elbrus 4,741 m (15,554 ft). Photo Scott Patch.
After packing up all of your equipment, supplies, and rubbish, you will make the return trip to Azau using snow cats and ski lifts where appropriate. In Azau we will overnight in our tourist hotel, enjoy hot showers, great food, repack our kits, prepare for our return bus ride to Pyatigorsk and enjoy the company of our new friends. We hope you had a safe, enjoyable, and successful expedition. Thanks for joining us!! Back to Top
Dan Haraburda climbing above Elbrus saddle on summit day. Photo Scott Patch.
Our expedition is open to men and women of all ages from around the world who may never have been on a big mountain and wish to test themselves at high altitude. Most of our members join as individuals, our team dynamics work well, and we are able to build successful and safe groups of people who enjoy walking and climbing together. We encourage you to come as an individual team member or with another person, whether that is your spouse, partner, friends, sibling, clients, colleagues, or bring your own group.Back to Top
Thank You for joining our Elbrus Expedition.
It is Dan's fifth Everest expedition. He is a relaxed, friendly and well organized person, and a highly-skilled professional with 20 years of experience in getting people to the summit and back down with the highest attention to safety. For more about Dan, please "click" on the Leadership link above.
A meeting on the roof of our hotel, where we describe the plan of our expedition. The audience, our trekkers and climbers. Felix and Arnold demonstrating the members high mountain equipment before a shopping trip to one of Kathmandu's 50 mountain shops to purchase any needed essentials for the members (Franck Pitula).
Below is a detailed list of equipment you need to bring for Elbrus and at the bottom is a description of team equipment that we bring for you. (Click a link below to go directly to that section of the personal equipment list or just scroll down):
Your clothing should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks, bin-liners, or large plastic bags. back to top
Meals along the trek are provided by the leaders. Once we reach basecamp, fresh, tasty food and hot drinks are supplied by the leader for you to prepare in your tent on the mountain.
Practical- back to top
This is not an exhaustive list. Please submit other equipment concerns and suggestions. Thank you. back to top
We provide a plethora of top-quality, and time-tested equipment, group gear, and supplies, including: rope, ice, rock, and snow anchor protection; trekking tents; cookers, fuel, high-altitude food, walkie-talkie radios, bamboo marker wands, etcetera. Please see the group EQUIPMENT link, in the menu bars above to study what we bring for your use and safety.
For the Elbrus Normal Route,it is not necessary for you to have previous climbing experience. We will teach you all of the mountain skills you need to know during the trip. You should be a fit and active walker in good health.
Our goal is to work together as a team so that all members reach the top safely. We do not expect you to be expert (although some members are) but, nor are we a climbing school (although we do conduct one or two days of training at the beginning of each expedition, please see below). If you feel you need fundamental technical training, and snow and ice experience, we urge you to participate in ourGlacier School held each spring and autumn. Members need to have experience in being part of a team, working toward a common goal, and be ready to work with the group and be a good "team-player".
Our leaders are there to ensure (for our full-service members) you make it up to the summit and back down safely. Team members are expected to be able to care for themselves in a winter-camping and climbing environment. Obviously when climbing the highest mountain in Europe, there are hazards present, and members are encouraged to have winter-condition climbing experience in the greater ranges of the world, including placing and retrieving anchors, belaying, abseiling, glacier rescue and avalanche awareness. It is also required that all members will have knowledge of altitude sickness, frostbite, and the recognition of their symptoms, prevention, and treatment. When traveling above basecamp, all members must climb with another team member or leader at all times.
Neither solo climbing, or descending, are allowed above basecamp. However, we welcome you to join our expedition as an individual and most of our members do. The main expectation is that members will be prepared to climb with a team member or leader at all times above basecamp. This practice ensures that the entire team has a fun, successful, and safe time on the mountain.
Fitness and Health:
To participate in this expedition you must be a very fit and active winter-walker-climber in good health and able to carry food, water, clothing and personal gear, and for the stronger members, some group equipment. Prior to joining our group, please see your doctor and obtain the necessary permission and advice, as well as medications for travel in extremes of altitude, and also for exotic locales.
Training Prior to the Expedition:
Upon arrival in Pyatigorsk and in the base camp, ALL members are requested to participate in an orientation to how the trip will be operated. There will be plenty of time for discussion, question answering, and for equipment review and possible purchasing/renting. Training will be conducted both in Pyatigorsk, Azau and in basecamp in the areas of basic climbing techniques, glacier travel, rope fixing, ascending, descending, safety techniques, rappels (abseils), belaying, medical equipment and procedures, communications equipment, camping techniques and high-altitude cooking. For the expert and beginner alike, it is important to review these techniques in order to enhance skills, ensure safety-awareness, and work together as a team.
Here is what Andrea says:
I have attached a few photos. Unfortunately our camera did not like the mountain whether so my climbing shots are limited. Luckily, others in the group were considerate to share theirs, especially for that summit shot!
Overall the trip was great! The acclimatization was easy and well-paced, climbing on Elbrus was fairly easy when the weather was good.
I was a little nervous about getting our visas in time, but I was pleasantly relieved when all the information was supplied with very organized instruction. It made the whole process go very smoothly!
Logistically, Elbrus is atypical with the ski-lifts, gondolas, and snow cats. We ended up taking a snow cat pretty high on summit day. We got to the summit at sunrise and had an early return to camp. Our group was agreeable in choosing the best option to give everyone a chance to summit.
The food and accommodations were all sufficient.
Please, if you have any questions about anything I wrote, don't hestitate to follow-up!
Andrea :) Back to top
Here is what Jules and Calin says:
Have you got your 2014 programme together as we would like to combine our climb on Kili next July/ August with a immediate follow on flight out to Russia to complete Elbrus?
We had a fabulous time on Elbrus and the leader did a great job with the team and logistics, we look forward to future climbs with you."
-Jules and Calin
Jan and Dan on the summit. Ryan, Terry, Andrea and Patch on the summit of Elbrus shortly after sunrise
Here is what Jan says:
Hi SummitClimb. Another summit in the bag! On Friday 2 August, after a turn back on 31 July due to bad weather, 5 of us from the group of 8 sumitted Mt Elbrus with 2 Russian guides, and SummitClimb's leader. I am thrilled and it has raised my confidence for the next of the 7 summits on the list - Vincent Massive in the Southern hemisphere summer, Dec-January. Best Regards, Jan Back to top
Here is what Dan says:
First off, I had a great time. The people that I meet and hang out with are always interesting and fun people. This was no exception. I had no issues with anyone in the group. By the way, I am still in touch with everyone from last year's EBC trip.
All of us gave our pictures to the leader and he downloaded them to "dropbox".
As far as the climb goes - I had no issues whatsoever until we hit 5100 metres / 17000 feet. We were climbing in very strong winds. I ran completely out of energy and had to go down. After resting for a few days, on our next summit attempt, I wanted to quit at the saddle but our assistant leader told me I couldn't stop. We continued and I had my own private leader and personal photographer. After a time, the assistant leader moved up to help someone else. The leader, who had already summited with others, came down to help me and we continued on to the top. He had a lot of nice things to say that kept me moving up. My biggest fear was that I will slow up or endanger other climbers. The two leaders did a nice job in convincing me that I actually belonged on the mountain.
Our accommodations were better than I expected. I thought we would be in tents. We stayed in huts. The food was good and plentiful. We saw The Barrels. I spoke to people who stayed in The Barrels. I am glad we didn't stay there.
I did not think the outhouses were the worst in all of climbing.
I think Summitclimb takes pride in being a non regimented program and that's fine.
In summary, I had a great time and I am glad that I went.
-Dan Back to top
Team heading up for first summit attempt. 4900 meters. Our huts with Elbrus in background.
If you would like to contact our previous members, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .We take our member's feedback and testimonials seriously. These help us to refine and make our trips a successful, safe, and enjoyable experience for our future teams. Back to top