Please click one of the links below to view that section of our introductory information or just scroll down (photo right by Scott Patch: Jan and Dan on the summit).
Elbrus Programme Description:
- Introduction: Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in all of Europe, and one of the fabled Seven Summits. Perched in the Caucasus Mountains at 5653 metres/18,541 feet, Mt. Elbrus is one of the best ways to test yourself at high altitude in a short amount of time. In addition to spectacular scenery, we will also experience one of Europe's richest and most unique cultures, as we trek and climb in Russia near the border to Georgia (photo right by Scott Patch: team heading for the summit).
We teach you everything you need to know about climbing during the trip.
Our proposed schedule allows for a careful and safe ascent with extra days for rest and multiple summit attempts.
The style of climbing is cautious and well-timed, with excellent leadership, organization, `walkie-talkie` radios, satellite telephones, tasty food, the best equipment, a comfortable basecamp, camps on the mountain, top-quality rope and full safety equipment and extensive medical kit (photo right by Scott Patch: team heading for the high camp of Elbrus on a perfect sunny day).
This expedition maximizes experience gained over countless high altitude expeditions with a strong record of reaching the top of our world`s highest peaks. In addition to more than 25 Himalayan and worldwide high altitude expeditions we have an intimate knowledge of the officials who regulate the permit system, liaison officers, staff members, drivers, and hoteliers/restaurateurs. back to top
Leader and staff: During the trek and climb, our experienced leader will be there to make sure everything is going well and ascend the mountain with the team. Meals along the way from Mineralnye Vody and Terskol are provided by SummitClimb in the towns we stay in. The leaders help make sure members cook and fill water bottles at basecamp and on the mountain. We supply high altitude easy to cook meals for you to prepare on the mountain. back to top
- Getting to Elbrus - Welcome to Russia: The location of Elbrus allows for an experience into the myriad of Turkish, Georgian, Azerbaydzhani and Russian cultures. The expedition begins in Mineralyne Vody where the whole team will meet and get to know one another before heading for the mountains. (photo right by Scott Patch: some of the wonderful architecture on the way to Elbrus).
- Travel to Basecamp: We meet one another during orientation in Mineralnye Vody (Mineral Water). We will then travel by bus to Azau Russia at the base of Mount Elbrus. We will take several days going over some training and climbing techniques, and exploring the Caucasus all around us. Good terrain is available around the Baksan Valley and this is a beautiful place to trek, acclimate and prepare for our attempt on Elbrus. back to top
Just below the Barrels where we make basecamp on the mountain and do our glacier training. Heading between the Barrels and high camp to acclimatize before the summit attempt (Scott Patch).
Pramila and Andrea doing yoga on our rest day at Elbrus basecamp 4100 meters (13,450 feet) Photo Scott Patch. Mount Elbrus is also fun for skiiers and snowboarders!. Group dinner in the huts.
- Climbing Elbrus: At 5653 metres/18,541 feet, Elbrus is a glaciated, twin-coned volcano that dominates the Caucuses Range of Russia. From Terskol a tram and ski lifts will carry us up the lower mountain to the "Barrel Huts" at 3800 metres/12,500 feet and located on the flank of Elbrus where we will begin our snow climbing ascent of the mountain. This is a fun spot to meet other international climbing teams from around the world.
- Barrel Huts or Huts above Diesel Hut: Fun and warm shared accommodation on the mountain. Our Russian cook will make tasty meals for you to enjoy. They will also boil water to keep you hydrated. Our western leader is there to help and make sure you're staying healthy. In addition to the food provided by SummitClimb, we recommend members bring 2 dehydrated/freeze-dried meals and their own snack food for on the mountain so you have something tasty from home to keep your spirits up when we go for the summit.
- After a bit more glacier training, we will take a walk up to the Pastukhov Rocks at about 4550 metres/15,000 feet for acclimatization. We descend back to the Barrels Huts and have a rest day.
- Summit day all the way to the top of the highest peak in Europe!
- After camping the night, we head back to Mineralnye Vody for a celebration dinner before flying out.
Members on top of the highest peak of all of Europe, Mount Elbrus. Surrounding views from the summit (Scott Patch).
- Rest Days: We will be taking a few of them throughout the expedition. During your rest days we encourage you to concentrate on recovering, eating and drinking, to read, relax, listen to music and stroll around visiting other teams. We also have a couple contingency days for extra summit attempts and bad weather.
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
* Our “full-service” expedition includes:
- Leader: Cost includes a very experienced and qualified British, European, or American leader;
- Hotels after leaving Piatigorsk (and until return to Piatigorsk)on a twin sharing basis in tourist class hotel;
- All meals after leaving Piatigorsk and at Elbrus basecamp, until our return to Piatigorsk;
- Transportation from Piatigorsk to Azau Village, at base of Elbrus. And return transportation to Piatigorsk;
- All Tram and chair lift rides used for acclimatizing and for transport to basecamp huts;
- Assistant guides and cooks;
- Group climbing and safety equipment. back to top
- Hotel and meals in Piatigorsk,hotels are $95/room and meals about $50 USD/day;
- Taxi from airport in MineralnyeVody to Piatigorskhotel on arrival and return to MineralnyeVody airport from Piatigorsk;
- Personal (non-shared) room in Azau Village, $50/ night;
- Items of personal nature, individual travel costs, delays, taxis, etc.;
- Personal Russian visa;
- Staff and leader tips (about $200 is recommended)
- Duffle bags for packing your personal equipment for transfer to basecamp;
- Recommended travel Insurance;
- Personal clothing or equipment;
- Favorite snack foods. 1 kg / 2 pounds is a good amount (you may buy these in Piatigorsk);
- Alcoholic drinks and personal snacks;
- Additional expenses like bottled or canned drinks on the trek, tips and gratuities, and expenses of a personal nature (ie: laundry or gift shopping);
- Snowcat for summit attempt. These costs are approximate and paid prior to summit attempt. Paid in Rubles.
- Snowcat to 4700 meters (Top of Pashtuhova Rocks) $ 150.00 USD
- Snowcat to 5100 meters $ 300.00 USD
*** This cost is per summit attempt.
- Personal Guide for Summit Day - they are available for a daily fee of:
- $600.00 USD per summit attempt.
***Arrange this in advance while booking trip
- Snowcat or snowmobile to huts on descent (from 4700 meters) $ 100.00 USD back to top
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).
Getting to Elbrus -
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;
Climbing Elbrus -
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.
Please click one of the links below to view that section of our introductory information or just scroll down.
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
Fountain in one of Pyatigorsk's many lovely parks. Photo Scott Patch. The start of Pyatigorsk's Broadway thoroughfare. Many vendors, restaurants and attractions are off this well know street. Photo Scott Patch
From Pyatigorsk to Azau -
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.
Acclimatizing Hikes around Azau -
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.
Moving to the Basecamp-
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
Climbing the “Normal” South Route -
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.
Who is this trip for? -
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.
Leadership: During this full-service expedition, you will benefit from the leadership provided by Dan Mazur.
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).
Note: Our leaders are not guides. They are there to coordinate the expedition and may or may not climb with you personally on the mountain. Our leaders will try to do everything they can to help you, but it is your responsibility to have the skills, strength, equipment, etcetera to do this climb. If you are unsure, you may wish to hire a personal sherpa.
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):
- Climbing harness;
- One 3 metre/10 foot sling and three 2 metre/6 foot slings.
- Figure 8/Abseil belay device;
- 1 large mitten sized ascender (most members use the large petzl) and arm length leash;
- 2 locking carabiners, 1 large and 1 small;
- 4 regular carabiners;
- Ice axe w/leash;
- Crampons - must fit boots perfectly. Steel crampons with anti-balling (anti-bot) plates are the best;
- Optional; Adjustable trekking poles; back to top
- 2 cotton t-shirts;
- 1 polypropylene t-shirt;
- 1 long sleeve polypropylene shirts, lightweight;
- 1 polar fleece pullovers, medium weight;
- 1 polar fleece jacket.
- Gore-Tex jacket with hood, waterproof and breathable;
- 1 very warm thick goose-down (duvet) jacket with hood;
- Lightweight down jacket for those chilly days in camp;
- Umbrella (optional); back to top
1 pr. lightweight poly-liner gloves. These will be worn when tying knots, but not inside your mitts;
1 pair mittens, consists of 1 Gore-tex over mitt matched with the very warm polar fleece mitt liner.
- Warm hat wool or synthetic that covers your ears;
- Face mask;
- Ballcap or brimmed suncap;
- Glacier sunglasses with side shields;
- 1 pair ski goggles with light and dark lens;
- Headlamp with extra batteries and bulbs;
- Bandana or head scarf, also useful for dusty conditions. back to top
- Cotton underwear briefs;
- 1 pair walking shorts;
- 1 pair walking trousers for trekking and around camp;
- 1 pair lightweight thermal bottoms;
- 1 pair medium or expedition weight thermal bottoms;
- 1 pair polar fleece trousers;
- 1 pr. Goose-down (duvet) trousers , salopettes or bibs or thick polar fleece trousers;
- 1 pair Gore-Tex trousers, salopettes, or bibs. Waterproof/breathable with full side zips;
Your clothing should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks, bin-liners, or large plastic bags. back to top
- 1 pair Double Plastic boots (Koflach);
- Modern single waterproof-leather climbing boots with special insulation for cold weather/winter climbing on 4000 metre/13,000 foot high peaks are OK, as long as they will fit comfortably with two thick pair of socks and a vapour barrier liner and the boot will fit the crampon perfectly.
- 1 pair sturdy leather walking boots with good ankle support (we mean leather trekking, not climbing boots) for the trek;
- 1 pair trainers, running shoes and/or sandals for town and in camp;
- 1 pair down booties (optional);
- 2 pair med-heavy poly or wool socks;
- 2- pair of liner socks. Polypropylene or wool;
- vapour barrier liner socks or plastic bread-bags;
- 2 pair lightweight trekking socks, poly or wool;
- Cotton socks for in town.
Your sleeping bags should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks, bin-liners, or large plastic bags. back to top
- 1 sleeping bag (good to -10 degrees C or 10 degrees F);
Rucksack and Travel Bags-
- 1 large rucksack (80 litre/5000 cubic inches);
- Waterproof rucksack cover (optional);
- 1 daypack for the approach hike, possible use on summit day and carry-on pack. If you plan to use it for your summit pack it must be large enough for your down jacket, misc. clothes, food and water;
- Travel, kit, or duffel bag with lock, (80‑100 litre/5,000-6,000 cubic inches).
- Small padlocks for duffel kit bags. back to top
- female or male hygiene supplies;
- 2 tubes lip sun cream, 1 large tube skin sun cream (min.factor 15);
- anti-mosquito cream;
- 1 toothpaste/brush;
- 1 bar soap or hand sanitizer gel/1 small towel;
- hand wipes. back to top
- small personal first-aid kit. (Simple and Light) Aspirin, first-aid tape, plasters (band-aids), personal medications, etc. The leaders will have extensive first-aid kits, so leave anything extra behind. Please let your leader know about any medical issues before the climb;
- 1 skin blister repair kit;
- 1 small bottle anti-diarrhea pills;
- 1 small bottle anti-headache pills;
- 1 small bottle cough and/or cold medicine;
- 1 small bottle stomach antibiotic: Ciprofloxacin, etc.;
- 1 small bottle anti-altitude sickness pills: Diamox, Acetylzolamide.
- Do not bring sleeping pills. They are a respiratory depressant;
- 1 small bottle of water purification tablets or water filter;
- 1 set earplugs;
- extra prescription glasses, contact lens supplies. Contact lens wearers, please bring glasses in case of emergency. 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.
- Favorite snack foods. 1 kg / 2 pounds is a good amount;
- 2 dehydrated meals (freeze-dried dinners) for the high camps.
Practical- back to top
- 1 small roll of repair tape, 1 sewing repair kit;
- 1 cigarette lighter, 1 small box matches;
- 1 compass or GPS;
- 1 battery powered alarm clock/watch;
- 1 camera and film, or digital camera with extra cards and extra batteries;
- nylon stuff sacks For food and gear storage, large Ziplocs are useful also;
- 3 Water bottles (1 litre) wide-mouth Nalgene (1 is a pee bottle);
- 1 plastic cup and spoon;
- 1 small folding knife;
- binoculars (optional);
- 4 large, waterproof, disposable rubbish sacks;
- passport, 2 extra passport photos, flight ticket, flight itinerary;
- separate photocopies of passport and relevant visa pages, proof of insurance;
- dollars, pounds or euros cash for restaurants and hotels, for gratuities, snacks, and to purchase your own drinks and gifts;
- credit cards, Bank/ATM/Cash machine cards for use for withdrawing funds from cash machines (bring a photocopy of your cards), traveler's checks, etc.;
- 1 bathing suit/swimming costume (you never know);
- basecamp entertainment. It is good to bring additional items which you have found to be useful on previous expeditions. For example: paperback books, playing cards, ipod mp3 player, short-wave radio, game boys, musical instruments, ear plugs, lots of batteries, etc.;
- travel clothes for basecamp and in town;
- Please be sure and bring your patience and try to keep an open, relaxed, positive and friendly attitude as travelling in this part of the world may be very different than what you are used to, but things always seem to fall into place at the last moment. Thank you.
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.
back to top
Team Member Experience:
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:
- Firstly, you should always consult your doctor before starting a rigorous exercise plan.
- In the beginning, to see how you handle the training, and to avoid muscle strains that could slow your training down, you may wish to use shorter more frequent but less taxing workouts, and take more rest. After you get "up to speed" as it were, you could increase the rigor. Older climbers and walkers please take note of the latter. Also remember that swimming is an excellent form of training because it does not put stress upon your joints. Thank you.
- In order to train well for your trip you should work toward exercising 3 to 4 times a week for between 40 minutes and an hour and a half each time. You should expect to work hard, and try to keep your heart rate quite high and your breathing quite heavy.
Adequate rest and a well balanced diet are also essential to avoid injury and illness before the expedition. You should sleep at least 8 hours per night, and eat 3 nutritious meals a day. Don't forget that you will perspire when you train, so try to drink at least 4 litres/quarts of water a day.
- Utilizing both gym equipment and the great outdoors will provide a more balanced exercise programme. You should try to accomplish at least half of your workouts outside. This could include walking and running (On stairs and hills too) and cycling, but above all should be fun! Hillwalking and climbing with a pack weighing 5-10 Kilos/10-20 pounds is essential. If you don't have hills, why not go for stairs, bleachers, viewing stands, and stadiums, even the stairways in tall buildings? Don't forget to spend time directly working the muscles of the legs, back and shoulders, and remember that your own body weight can be just as effective as weights, or machines.
- About 6 weeks before the expedition departure date, you may wish to do 1 full day each week of hill walking, climbing or an equivalent, with a light rucksack. On that day, you would want to eventually work toward six-eight hours of continuous walking or climbing up and down hill, with 4 to 6 separate ten minute breaks and a 1/2 to 1 hour lunch break midway through.
To minimize the chance of injuring yourself, consider starting with a half day and then if you do well, increase to 2/3, then eventually to a full day, once a week.
- We want you to arrive for your expedition in top shape, so please take plenty of rest and do not over-do it.
- Hint: when carrying a rucksack while descending, walking, or climbing down-hill, try carrying a bit less in your rucksack in order to save your knees. Many trainers advise carrying water bottles up the hill then emptying them at the top so your rucksack is lightened for the trip down.
Training During 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.
We hope that you will arrive for your Elbrus Expedition in good health, both mentally and physically prepared, so we can work together as a team and have a successful expedition.
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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
Terry and Andrea approaching summit on 2nd attempt. Our huts with Elbrus in background.
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 email@example.com . 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