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Ski Mountaineering – Elbrus 5642m
Ski from the summit of Europe with one of our IFMGA Mountain Guides. It’s the highest mountain in Europe and one of the "Seven Summits"
This is classic ski mountaineering, snow aretes, crampons, crevasses and variable snow.
Elbrus is an inactive volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, near the Georgian border in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia, Russia.
With an elevation of 5,642 meters(18,510 feet), it is part of the Caucasus Range that straddles Asia and Europe, although most geographers place it in Europe. This makes it the tallest mountain in Europe and one of the Seven Summits, the highest mountains in each of the continents and elite climbers aspire to summit all of them.
Mount Elbrus isn’t a technical mountain but the crevasse fields, high altitude, weather, and variable snow conditions make this a challenging climb for beginners and experienced climbers alike, requiring the use of crampons and ice axe. Our friendly and experienced guides will teach you everything you need to know to be successful.
The Northern route is wilder than the Southern side of the mountain. There are no hotels, cable-lift, snowmobiles or snow-cats, but there is also good enough infrastructure for comfortable ascent. It is less crowded because of this. There are two main camps there for accommodation. So this route is preferred option for ski ascension or people who prefer wilder climbing routes.
The way to the North Side starts and finishes in in Pyatigorsk. From the hotel we have about 4-5 hours by car transfer until the Base Camp at 2500m. The last part (about 15km) of the route is really off-road so we use special Russian jeeps - UAZ. After acclimatisation, we move to high camp with shelter at 3800m. Both camps have comfortable separate dining areas for meal times etc. Every day, electricity is supplied in the evening time from generator and solar panels. We provide all food, so you have to carry only personal gear from camp to camp.
Example Ski Elbrus nine day Itinerary:
Arrival Mineralnie Vody. Meet group and then transfer 30km to Piatigorsk. Gear check and night in Hotel.
Transfer to Hathansu meadow Base Camp at 2500m. We drive as close as snow condition allows (it is possible a distance of 4 km to Base Camp on foot if the road is still snow bound). Night in Hathansu Base Camp.
The first day on skis! Acclimatization ski tour to North Hut 3760m, or Stone Mashroom meadow 3200m. Ski descent to Hathansu Base Camp. A chance to breathe some thin air and get the legs moving again. Acclimatisation days are all about adapting, without getting overly fatigued.
This is where the real work begins. We move from basecamp to the North hut at 3800m. This will be our base for the next few days.
A crucial acclimatisation day, where we ski tour along and up Mt. Elbrus slopes. We need to get high enough to force our bodies to adapt to some altitude. We then descend back to the hut for a restful afternoon. Night in the North hut.
Our first potential summit day. the climb to the summit is around 1900m in elevation gain, and will take several hours. The last part often completed on foot depending on snow conditions. We spend another night in the North hut.
This is a spare day built into the programme, giving us another weather window. Only one attempt is possible, but we have a choice of two days depending on the weather, conditions and our acclimatisation.
Descent to Hathansu basecamp 2500m and lower to the car. Transfer to Piatigorsk, for a hotel, showers, food and relaxation!
Transfer to Mineralnie Vody for international flight home.
The downhill terrain on Elbrus is not extremely technical. Several short pitches of no more than 40 degrees will be found, but generally slopes average a modest 15-30 degrees. Natural hazards do exist however, including: rocks, crevasses, variable snow, and ice to breakable crust. Due to these hazards, in addition to the strenuous nature of skiing at 18,000 feet, we require that the participants in the Elbrus descent be advanced skiers or boarders, preferably with some high altitude experience.
Some example European peaks would be the Grand Paradiso ,Mont Buet, or other 4000m peaks in Switzerland.
Click here to see a full gallery of Elbrus Expedition photos including topo diagrams of the route.
Our Elbrus expedition is nine days long including flights and transfers etc. If you'd like to extend your trip with sight seeing, or climb a couple of peaks in the alps for acclimatisation in the days before flying to Russia then let us know.
Climbing Elbrus on skis is extremely physical and tiring. It is common to spend tweleve hours for the ascent and descent and you must be capable of making good safe turns with a rucksack, in any snow conditions and at altitude. All after having done eight hours of ski mountaineering! Not that we want to put you off, but you must be well prepared before the trip. If your not sure, then a weekends ski touring with us prior to attempting Elbrus is a very good idea.
Ski Elbrus 2018 Dates:
Saturday 12th to Sunday 20th May 2018
The price reduces according to the number of skiers on the trip. So a small trip is more expensive, but the ratios are lower.
The price includes:
All Guiding fees. All necessary local transfers. All accommodation according to the program. Full board throughout the trip, excluding farewell dinner; one Vertical Frontiers Mountain Guide, and one local Russian Guide. A Cook whilst on the mountain.
Necessary formality (visa support, passport registration); National Park fee.
International and internal Flights to / from MinVody airport; Unexpected preliminary evacuation cost; Insurance. Personal expenses, alcohol. Visa costs. If we, or you, choose to end the expedition early and return to town, then the extra nights accommodation in hotels are not included in the price.
Please do contact us with any questions you might have.