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August-September: Not Scheduled
Mt. Elbrus (18,510’/5,642 m) is the highest point in Europe and one of the “Seven Summits.” Located in the spectacularly beautiful central Caucasus Mountains of Russia. Elbrus offers the opportunity to accomplish a high, non-technical snow climb in a decidedly civilized fashion. We will stay in a mountain lodge and huts, go on acclimatization hikes, soak in hot springs, and climb the mountain.
After the climb, there is an optional six-day tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg. After all, we are already in Russia and we might as well see the big cities as well!
Elbrus Climb Only- CONTACT US
Land costs – Includes all meals, Lodging; Guides; All necessary permits: OVIR and reserve territory registration, rescue service registration, local protection fee; transportation as described in itinerary, including snow cat on summit day.
Does not include airfare to or from Mineralnye Vody. If you are coming through Moscow, we can make arrangements for your transfer and flight to Mineralye Vody.
Climb plus Tour:
1 person – $6,000
2-3 Persons, – $4,000 each
4+ persons – $3,500 each
Land costs. Climb – Includes all climb items per above, air transportation to Moscow, accommodation in twin/double rooms with private bath/shower at listed or similar 3* hotels, all transfers by private vehicles with drivers, train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, English-speaking guides for all sightseeing and excursions, breakfast daily, and entrance and admission fees per itinerary.
Does not include airfare to Mineralnya Vody or from St. Petersburg. If you are coming through Moscow, we can arrange for your transfer and flight to Mineralnya Vody.
Limit of nine climbers (plus two REA guides) and 10 people on tour.
As we do for all our climbs of big mountains, we are going to be very keen to ensure that everyone is adequately acclimatized when we go for the summit. Since Elbrus is a major ski area during the winter, and we will actually start our summit climb from a hut, the standard routine of “climb high and sleep low” is going to be modified to “ride high, hike some, and sleep low.” We will ride ski lifts up high, hike and climb up higher, and descend the lifts back to our lodge/hut.
After four days of acclimating, we leave from the “Barrels Huts” (12,870’/3,900m) about 3 AM. We will probably take a snow cat up to the Pastukhov Rocks (14,850/4500 m), since we will have previously climbed up to here and it will save us two hours of walking in the dark. From the Rocks, it is a slow gradual ascent to the saddle (17,160’/5,230m) between the east and west summits. From the saddle we head left up toward the west summit and top out on the small summit dome (18,510’/5,642m).
There is minimal danger from crevasses and we will probably not need to rope-up, although we will carry ropes. We will carry ice axes, crampons, and trekking poles. Besides altitude, the primary challenge is the possibility of sudden changes in the weather with resulting severe conditions: cold, wind, and poor visibility. We will wand our route as necessary, and use our navigational tools to ensure we can find our way off the mountain. We will also review and practice our self-arrest and crampon skills prior to our climb day.
Experienced lead and assistant guides from REA will provide mountaineering and medical support and work with our local Russian Guides and support crew from Pilgrim Tours.
Day 1: Our plan is to meet at the Mineralnya Vody Airport Friday. You can fly into Mineralnya Vody either from Moscow or Munich, Germany. From the airport, it’s about a four-hour bus ride to our mountain lodge (twin rooms, with toilet and shower) in the Baksan Valley at the base of Elbrus. If we arrive early enough, we may have an opportunity to take a walk before dinner.
Day 2: After breakfast, we will go to Cheget village and take the ski lift (6,600’/2,000m) up Cheget Mountain. From the top of the lift (10,500’/3,200m), we will hike to the summit (11,800’/3600 m). After hanging out on the summit and enjoying the view, we return to Cheget village for lunch. On the way back we can “take the waters” in a mineral hot spring. We return to the mountain lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: After breakfast at the lodge, we ride the two-stage Azau Cable car from 7,750’/2350m to 11,550’/3,500m and take a chair lift up to the Garabashi lift station (12,540’/3,800m) just below the Barrels Huts. We typically encounter snow/ice at this elevation. From here we hike to the former Priut-11 site (13,860’/4,200m). The Priut-11 Hotel burned down in 1998; an outbuilding called the Diesel hut is still there. We will plan on doing some self-arrest practice and wearing our crampons if the conditions are appropriate. This is a good opportunity to check out our gear before we move up from the lodge. Depending on how we feel and the conditions, we may push up to the beginning of Pastukhov rocks (14,850’/4,500m). We’ll descend to the Garabashi station by 4 pm to catch the lifts back for dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Day 4: After breakfast we leave the mountain lodge with all our climbing gear. We can leave the rest of our gear at the mountain lodge. We’ll ride up to theBarrels Huts (12,870’/3900m) and move our gear in. After a short rest and tea, we start for a hike up to the beginning of the Pastuckhov rocks and probably higher (14,850’-15,510’/4,500m – 4,700m). We’ll have lunch, dinner and stay overnight at the Barrels Huts.
Day 5: This is an acclimatization day. We will do a short hike up to 14,200’/4,300m and hang out at the huts. We can hydrate, eat, rest, and get our gear and summit packs ready for Wednesday’s climb. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, overnight is in the Barrels Huts.
Day 6: We get up at 2AM and leave The Barrels after breakfast by 3AM. We plan to take the snow-cat up to Pastukhov Rocks (14,850/4,500m). From the Rocks it will likely take us four – five hours to the saddle (17,160’/5,230m), and another two hours to the summit (18,510’/5,642m). From the summit it’s about three hours to descend back to the Barrels Huts. If we return to the Huts by 2-3 PM, we can descend to the valley and overnight at the mountain lodge. Otherwise, we will spend the night at the huts. (The chairlift shuts down at 4 PM.)
Day 7: If we made the summit Wednesday, we will descend to the mountain lodge and have a rest day with short hikes, shopping at the wool market, soaking at the hot springs. Breakfast at the Barrels, lunch at an Azau cafe, and dinner at the lodge. If Wednesday was a weather hold day, this is summit day.
Day 8: If we made the summit Wednesday, this is an open day. There are several options: shopping, soaking at the mineral springs, hiking to a side valley, or just hanging out in the lodge. This is the last day we can try to climb Mt. Elbrus. If we try to summit, we have to descend to the valley as well, so it could be a long day.
Day 9: After breakfast at the lodge, we’ll take the bus back to the Mineralnye Vody airport. Our driver will take us to the departure hall and will help with registering. Those of you just doing the climb will head home, and the tourist group will fly to Moscow. Our tour guides will meet us at the airport and take us to the three star Rossia Hotel.
Day 10: Our tour of Moscow takes us past the magnificent cathedral of Kazan. We walk in Red Square, where we will see the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, drive along the Moscow River Embankment, and visit Arbat Street. Time at leisure before our afternoon tour of the Kremlin, which includes a tour of the Kremlin grounds, a visit to one of the cathedrals and the Armory. We spend the night at the Rossia Hotel.
Day 11: This morning we may choose between one of the following tours: Moscow Metro and the Arbat – The Moscow Metro (subway) is justly regarded as one of the most beautiful architectural monuments in the world. Each station is unique, with mosaic panels, bronze figures, and magnificent chandeliers and finished with marble, granite and artistic castings. The Arbat is Moscow’s most well-known neighborhood. Branching off the main Arbat Street is a maze of side streets; many old buildings have been renovated, and most now house cafes, restaurants and shops. The Arbat is a shopper’s paradise, with shops and stalls displaying every kind of Russian art, handicraft and souvenir.
KGB Museum Tour – A morning tour to visit the old KGB building, a focus of Russians’ dread for years. There are four rooms showing the history of one of the world’s most famous security organizations. There are displays of their methods, as revealed by former KGB agents. The Hall was created for professional training and educating of the State Security services employees. There is an exhibition covering the events of mass repression during Stalin’s period. A separate hall illustrates the security service’s activity during World War II. There is a display of Cold War KGB activities which includes photographs of some well-known spies who were caught and interrogated by the KGB. At leisure until we transfer to the train station to board the late afternoon train to St. Petersburg. We arrive in the late evening and transfer to the three star Moskva Hotel.
Day 12: A city so European and yet so unlike anything else in Europe, the beauty of St. Petersburg lies in the blend of Russian and western European architecture. It is in St. Petersburg where we come face-to-face with the Russian Czars and their opulent palaces. With its classical architecture and well-designed wide tree-lined streets, St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Our morning tour of St. Petersburg will introduce us to Nevsky Prospekt, the main thoroughfare of St. Petersburg. Then we will travel along the embankment of the Neva River and view the magnificent Hermitage Museum from Vassilievsky Island. Time at leisure prior to our visit to the Hermitage Museum. One of the world’s greatest art galleries set in the magnificent Winter Palace built by Catherine the Great. The museum is vast. Along with additional buildings, it houses collections of art by such masters as Rembrandt, Rubens and Picasso, and collections from the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Return to the Moskva Hotel and overnight in St. Petersburg.
Day 13: This morning we travel outside of the city for a tour of Peterhoff (Petrodvorets). The imperial summer palace of Peter the Great was built at the beginning of the 18-century. It sits on the Gulf of Finland, 20 miles from St. Petersburg. Peterhoff is a combination of several palaces, containing furniture, paintings and art items that belonged to different generations of Russian Czars. In front of the Big Palace is a beautiful fountain and its many tiers, and ornamental golden statues offer an amazing sight. Return to St. Petersburg. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the Moskva Hotel.
Day 14: Hotel checkout prior to 12 noon and transfer to the airport to fly home.