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Mt Elbrus 5642m south route 2017
Highest summit in Europe. Click here for north route
Climbing Skill
Fitness & Stamina
Course overview

At over 800m higher than Mont Blanc, Elbrus is the “Seventh Summit” of Europe. In terms of technical difficulty, it is easier than Mont Blanc, although the importance of acclimatisation is greater, as it is higher.

The mountain is an extinct volcano, conical in shape, with a crater rim on which the twin summits are perched. The higher west peak is reached by a steep snow climb from Sedlowina saddle, the col separating the peaks.
You require no previous climbing or mountaineering experience for this expedition, as you are taught all necessary ice axe and crampon skills on the mountain, but you should be a competent trekker who is familiar with 6-7 hour days with up to 1300m of height gains.
This expedition will appeal to those who have ascended Mont Blanc, or one of the other major Alpine peaks, who want to step up a gear in terms of altitude. While the mountain is one of the Seven Summits, it is one of the most enjoyable to climb, as the Alpine approach is used, and there is no need for siege style tactics, porters, or time consuming walk in's.
The accommodation we use in the Caucasus varies from hotels in the valley, to mountain huts such as the famous Barrels Hut on the mountain, though generally we opt to stay in private huts at the same altitude as the Barrels which are cleaner and more comfortable. This provides you with the best starting point for the ascent, to ensure you are comfortable and warm.
You fly in and out of the local Caucasus town of Mineralyne Vody, from where you are transferred to the Baksan valley. The itinerary aims to maximise time on the mountain, whilst minimising the amount of time that you have to take off work for the expedition.
Dates: these are listed in the column on the right, and they show the live availability from our secure online booking system. When you book online, you receive immediate confirmation, your Elbrus expedition trip dossier, trip specific kit list and invoice.
View of the southern icefields of Kilimanjaro from the Karanga camp at 3961m
Expedition notes

Our formula is to restrict the group sizes, so that there are a maximum of 15 clients. The small group sizes enable us to run specialist ascents, where the group can bond well, and each expedition member has great access to the local guides.
Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the planned itinerary, it must be realised that in this type of adventurous travel, changes to the itinerary may occur. Your final itinerary may differ in respect of the places where you stay overnight. Please bear this in mind, especially in the Caucasus!
On the ascent of Elbrus, you are guided by local guides who have detailed local knowledge. Local guides are not ‘guiding’ or qualified in the same stringent way as IFMGA International Mountain Guides, but work in a far more traditional sense as route finders and assistants to our expedition members, so a higher degree of adventure and autonomy is required than on our Alpine trips.
Our trips are not 'resold packages' from Russian operators, but are privately run trips exclusively for our clients where there are five or more on a trip. All dates are guaranteed, and if there are four or less of our clients on a trip, you are matched with other clients from our partners. We use local logistics agents for visa invitations, guides, transport and accommodation. You are guided by an English speaking local guide on these trips.
With adventure travel, the unexpected is the norm in these areas and, despite painstaking planning and organisation, our adventure holidays can never be taken for granted like regular holidays. Many of the
places that we visit do not have the same quality of emergency health and safety services that we are used to in the developed world. Internal flights can be cancelled, road transport is generally uncomfortable and unreliable, and hotels and any star ratings often do not approach the equivalent standards of the West. If you are not prepared for this, you should not book on this style of trip. We see these factors as a selling point, and it really defines for us what adventure travel is all about.
Elbrus expedition itinerary

Day Itinerary Night Meals
Sat Fly to Mineralyne Vody Airport, to arrive for the group airport transfer departing at 14.30 (allow an hour after flight arrival for baggage collection, etc). The airport transfer takes approximately three and a half hours to the Baksan Valley. Transfer to the hotel in Baksan valley, in the foothills of Mount Elbrus. In the evening there is an expedition briefing, and time to check and sort any equipment and answer any last minute queries. Dinner with the group. Night in hotel. Hotel D
Sun After breakfast at the hotel there is an acclimatisation hike of Peak Terskol (3100m). Apart from great views of the Elbrus region, this hike allows you to test your equipment and see if you are missing anything. You descend back to the valley and in the afternoon your guide will assist you in visiting the local equipment store to buy any extra supplies or hire anything extra. Dinner with the group. Night in the hotel. Hotel BLD
Mon A short bus transfer from the hotel to the Azau ski station, from which you take the ski lift to Mir station 3500m, and the chair lift to the hut at c. 3800m. You can leave all extra kit not needed on the mountain at the hotel. The cook will either ascend with you or will already be preparing a light lunch at the hut. After lunch you have an acclimatisation hike on the lower slopes of Elbrus up to 4300 m. Dinner with the group. Night in the shared dormitory in the mountain hut. Hut BLD
Tue Today is an essential acclimatisation ascent to the Pashtukov Rocks, high above the former Priutt hut. Here you get good views of the famous Sedlowina saddle and snowy Ushba peak. You should also start to feel that your acclimatisation is starting to work as you are hiking up to around 4800m. After some lunch and time for some photos you descend back to the mountain hut for the night. Dinner with the group. Night in the shared dormitory in the mountain hut. Hut BLD
Wed Today is a lighter day after yesterday, to allow the acclimatisation to stabilise, and to develop your technical skills before the summit attempt tomorrow. Your guide will teach you ice axe and crampon skills close to the refuge. You will learn how to put on the crampons and how to use them, and the techniques of self-arrest. You then have the opportunity to practice sliding down the slope and stop yourself using your ice-axe. Don't worry if you have no previous experience as all skills are taught. Dinner with the group. Night in the shared dormitory in the mountain hut. Hut BLD
Thu Leaving the hut at c. 03.00am you climb Elbrus' west summit (5642m). This takes c. 9 hours in total (c. 5 hours up and 4 down). It is possible to hire a snow-cat (Ratrak) for the group (or shared between multiple groups) and this will be discussed between you and your guide. This vehicle carries climbers (up to 12 people) up to Pastuckhov rocks and saves c. 4 hours and a lot of energy. Normally you stay at the hut in the evening but if the group returns early then it may be possible to descend to the valley hotel (for an extra charge, see exclusions section). Dinner & night in hut. Hut BLD
Fri This is a spare reserve day for a summit attempt, in case of bad weather on the previous day. Or for those who summited yesterday, it is the descent after breakfast from the hut back to the hotel in the Baksan valley. When the group makes a summit attempt today, it is usually necessary to use the snowcat to gain height quickly and descend to the valley the same evening quickly as the ski lifts stop working at 16.00pm. Once back in the valley there is time for showers, then a celebratory meal in the hotel. Night in hotel. Hotel BL
Sat

Breakfast in the hotel, before the group return airport transfer to Mineralyne Vody airport, to arrive c. 10.30am. This is suitable for flights departing after 12.30. If your flight departs much later than 12.30 then a private airport transfer can be arranged for an additional charge (see exclusions section below).

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ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionally we are forced to alter the plans. If this is the case, suitable alternatives are offered. Please use this itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity you attempt.
View of the southern icefields of Kilimanjaro from the Karanga camp at 3961m
Course Prices
Standard course
6 full days Elbrus guiding, 1:5 max ratio
8 days holiday total, Saturday-Saturday
£1299
Live availability
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Standard Course Inclusions: 1) Elbrus guides for daily leading and instruction, 2) Pre expedition Information dossier, 3) Equipment discount voucher for UK shop, 4) Three nights of hotel accommodation (twin or triple rooms) and hut accommodation (shared multi-sex dormitories) in Baksan region on a full board (dinner, bed and breakfast) basis, 5) Road transport in region and airport transfers (communal with rest of group, to leave airport at 14.30 on day 1 and drop off by 10.30 on last day - different transfer times available see note in exclusions), 6) All costs for expedition leaders, local guides and porters, 7) We provide all communal equipment (you provide your own clothing, mountaineering boots, and climbing equipment), 8) Cable cars or mountain uplift (as mentioned in detailed itinerary), 9) Invitation letter for Russian visa, 9) Climbing certificate for successfully summiting Elbrus, 10) Free (with UK postage) Icicle expedition kit bag.
Exclusions: 1) Travel to & from Mineralnye Vody airport, 2) Evening meal on the last night in area (budget on c. £20 per night), 3) Airport transfers outside communal times (as outlined above) these are c.£85 each way, 4) Single room upgrades in hotel (subject to availability, c.£85 extra), 5) UK and foreign airport taxes, optional trips, souvenirs and tips, 6) Extra valley hotel night and dinner on Thursday night if you descend to the valley (as that night is paid for in the mountain hut and cannot be refunded if not used / cancelled (c.£85 per person), 7) Your personal laundry, telephone calls, and any purchases in mountain huts / hotels / bars / restaurants, 8) Any additional cable cars or mountain uplift, and the use of the Snowcat (up to c.£100 per person up to 5000m, snowcat can take 8-10 people), 9) Local national park fees (c.£25), 10) Extras before course: personal activities insurance, & excess baggage charges, 11) Visa application costs.
Icicle expedition kit bag for FREE
All those booking on this trip are entitled to a free Icicle expedition kit bag. This tough c.65 litre capacity kit bag is designed for full expedition usage and is made out of durable fabric, and features carry straps. It normally retails at £50. Postage within the UK is included in the prices. If you live overseas, it's not a problem at all. We'll let you know the price for postage. Want a second bag? Order another, click here.
Elbrus north route

We also offer ascents of Mount Elbrus from the north. It is a wilder side of the mountain, with no hotels, restaurants, cable cars or snow cats. You reach the summit completely on foot, using the route of the first ascent nearly 200 years ago. The 90km approach to basecamp from Kislovodsk is made by 4X4 over rugged terrain to Dzhily-Su where the route begins. The summit day is tougher, with 1900m of height gain, and the round trip takes approximately 16 hours, so you need to be fitter than for the normal route from the south.

Day Itinerary Night Meals
Fri Fly to Mineralyne Vody Airport, to arrive for the group airport transfer departing at 14.30 (allow an hour after flight arrival for baggage collection, etc). The airport transfer takes approximately three and a half hours to the Baksan Valley. Transfer to the town of Kislovodsk, the last town before the lower steppes of the Caucasus. Spend the rest of the day sorting gear and preparing for the climb. Overnight in Kislovodsk. Dinner with the group. Night in hotel. Hotel D
Sat After breakfast, you depart for basecamp. The vehicle is loaded with the gear, and a four hour drive takes you into the heart of the lush foothills of the lower Caucasus to Mt. Elbrus Base Camp (2500m). You establish a basecamp, then take a short acclimatization hike to explore the remote valley and stretch your legs after the many long hours of travel. Camp BLD
Sun Acclimatisation hike up to 3100 m. You'll see the fascinating stone mushrooms that are up to 5m high. This region is a great place for rock climbing. Descend to the basecamp. Overnight in the basecamp. Camp BLD
Mon Carry loads up to the high camp. You pack up a portion of the supplies and make a carry to high camp (3800m). After depositing a cache and enjoying the views, you descend back to the basecamp for the night. Camp BLD
Tue Move to up to the high camp. An early start gives ample opportunity to enjoy the climb up to high camp. The route from basecamp takes you above a narrow gorge and out of the high grasslands into the alpine zone, affording stunning views of the glaciers of Mount Elbrus and the lower steppes of the Caucasus to the north. The last stretch of the climb leads through the jumbled rock moraine along side the Mikelchiran Glacier before cresting a steep pitch to reach camp. Camp BLD
Wed Acclimatisation hike to the Lenz Rocks (4800m). The route brings you onto some moderate glacial terrain. You will be roped up in order to protect yourselves from the several crevasses that must be crossed. Return to the high camp for the night. Camp BLD
Thu

Summit Day! After an alpine start we climb from the high camp across the upper portion of the Mikelchiran Glacier until you reach the Saddle at 5300m. Mount Elbrus has two large summit domes and the Saddle separates the East Summit from the West Summit. Both are comparable in size and height. After enjoying the summit and its impressive views of the Caucasus mountain range, you descend back to the high camp.

Camp BLD
Fri

Today you breakdown the high camp and descend back to basecamp for the night. This day can also be used as an extra summit day in case you encounter bad weather or need additional time for acclimatisation.

Camp BLD
Sat Transportation from Dzhily-Su to Kislovodsk where you will enjoy hot showers and a good night's sleep. Note that if you return to Kislovodsk earlier scheduled, you will have to pay extra for individual transportation to Kislovodsk and for additional nights at hotel (subject to availability, as this is a popular spa town). Night in hotel. Hotel BL
Sun

Breakfast in the hotel, before the group return airport transfer to Mineralyne Vody airport, to arrive c. 10.30am. This is suitable for flights departing after 12.30. If your flight departs much later than 12.30 then a private airport transfer can be arranged for an additional charge (see exclusions section below).

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2016 Price: £1499, Length: 10 days

Inclusions:
1) Elbrus guides for daily leading and instruction, 2) Pre expedition Information dossier, 3) Equipment discount voucher for our UK shop, 4) 2 nights of hotel accommodation (twin or triple rooms) in Kislovodsk in a 3* hotel with breakfast, and other nights in tents / hut on full board basis, 5) Road transport in region and airport transfers (communal with rest of group, to leave airport at 14.30 on day 1 and drop off by 10.30 on last day - different transfer times available see note in exclusions), 6) All costs for expedition leaders, local guides and porters, 7) We provide all communal equipment (you provide your own clothing, mountaineering boots, and climbing equipment), 8) Transfer from Kislovodsk to basecamp and back, 9) Invitation letter for Russian visa, 9) Climbing certificate for successfully summiting Elbrus, 10) Free (with UK postage) Icicle expedition kit bag.

Exclusions:
1) Travel to & from Mineralnye Vody airport, 2) Evening meal on the last night in area (budget on c. £20 per night), 3) Airport transfers outside communal times (as outlined above) these are c.£85 each way, 4) Single room upgrades in hotel (subject to availability, c.£85 extra), 5) UK and foreign airport taxes, optional trips, souvenirs and tips, 6) Extra nights in Kislovodsk (not usually required), and all lunches and dinners in Kislovodsk, 7) Your personal laundry, telephone calls, and any purchases in mountain huts / hotels / bars / restaurants, 8) Hire of personal equipment (such as sleeping bag, boots, crampons etc.), 9) Porter services for personal belongings, 10) Single occupancy at hotel or in tent, 11) Extras before course: personal activities insurance, & excess baggage charges, 12) Visa application costs.

Course Dates
Elbrus via north
  • [ 3 ] 1 - 10 Sep 2017
  • [ 3 ] 22 Sep - 1 Oct 2017
  • [ 4 ] 6 - 15 Oct 2017
  • [ 0 ] 22 Jun - 1 Jul 2018
  • [ 0 ] 13 - 22 Jul 2018
  • [ 0 ] 27 Jul - 5 Aug 2018
  • [ 0 ] 31 Aug - 9 Sep 2018
  • [ 0 ] 21 - 30 Sep 2018
  • [ 0 ] 5 - 14 Oct 2018
Current course availability

Course Dates
Elbrus via south
  • [ 4 ] 26 Aug - 2 Sep 2017
  • [ 4 ] 2 - 9 Sep 2017
  • [ 4 ] 9 - 16 Sep 2017
  • [ 4 ] 23 - 30 Sep 2017
  • [ 4 ] 21 - 28 Oct 2017
  • [ 0 ] 26 May - 2 Jun 2018
  • [ 0 ] 23 - 30 Jun 2018
  • [ 0 ] 28 Jul - 4 Aug 2018
  • [ 0 ] 25 Aug - 1 Sep 2018
  • [ 0 ] 1 - 8 Sep 2018
  • [ 0 ] 8 - 15 Sep 2018
  • [ 0 ] 22 - 29 Sep 2018
  • [ 0 ] 20 - 27 Oct 2018
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Price: £1299 Book online

Alternative courses
Mont Blanc Summit
Eiger Ascent
Mt Blanc+Eiger+Matterhorn

Client feedback


A brilliant expedition. If there was any critisism, it would be that you don't make enough of how interesting this extraordinary region is, on your website

Terry K , Elbrus

This was the penultimate of my seven summits, and it's only Kili to go, which I'm doing with you in a few months. Thanks so much for this trip. Really great local team, and a well organised trip

Samuel S , Elbrus

A great trip, and interesting to see Moscow on my way through, but far more interesting to spend time in these amazing mountains

Graham J , Elbrus
Testimonials
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Snow cat on summit day?
Is this cheating? No more than using ski lifts in areas such as the Alps, and we highly recommend it A snow cat lift up to the Pastukhov rocks can be organised if booked before, to shorten the summit day by about 900m. This usually translates to between 2 and 3 hours of climbing, so isn't to be sniffed at. This is not essential, but is highly recommended to shorten the day a little, if you have any concerns about the cold, length of day, or the weather forecast. The guide will be able to advise you on the day before the summit on whether your group would benefit from using this. The cost of the snow cat is c. €500 up to 4800m €1000 up to 5000m which is split between all the clients, and don't worry if you are a small group as other groups on the mountain usually join together to split the cost.
Travel visas for Russia
A visa is obligatory for entry and travel within Russia for tourists, and should be carried with you throughout the trip as it (and all other paperwork such as passport, insurance or climbing permits) can be requested and checked at any time. When booking this trip, please ensure that you provide your full name, date and place of birth, citizenship, passport number and its date of issue (ensure it is valid for 6 months after your trip). You should supply a copy of your passport and your insurance to Icicle before you travel. The Russian travel visa can be obtained in the UK direct from the Russian Embassy (click here). Our local Russian agent is accredited with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will issue a visa support invitation letter, usually 8 weeks before your trip. This you need to apply in person / by post at the Russian Embassy for your visa, or some opt to use a visa agent company (e.g. Action Visas / Visa Swift), to collect it in person for you. Ensure that you allow at least 6 weeks before departure to arrange your visa, to allow for the bureaucratic process (it usually takes c. 4 weeks). If you would like to spend time in Moscow before travelling to Mineralyne Vody you should ask us to arrange your night(s) of accommodation through our local Russian operators so that they can write a visa invitation letter for the full trip including Moscow (if you arrange your Moscow trip direct you will have to ask your accommodation provider for a separate visa invitation letter). Further details are in the Icicle Elbrus trip dossier that you receive upon booking the trip.
Flights to Mineralnye Vody
When flying from Europe, the easiest route is via Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) airport, then onwards to Mineralnye Vody (MRV) regional airport. There are no direct flights, and we advise that you avoid routes via Moscow Domodedovo (DME) or Moscow Vnukovo (VKO), because Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) is the main hub airport, and it lessens the risks of baggage delays in transit. You can check out flights and routes on Skyscanner (http://www.skyscanner.net). Return tickets at present from London Heathrow (LHR) cost in the region of £360 with Aeroflot (correct Sept 2014). This Icicle trip price includes the airport transfers to and from Mineralnye Vody airport to the Elbrus region on a shared transfer basis leaving on the first day at 14.30 and taking you back to the airport at 10.30 on the last day, different times are available at your cost (see section on exclusions below for private airport transfer costs).
Suggested reading and kit
View full course equipment list, with examples of kit, click here
Why choose our trips?
See our climbing blog, by clicking on the Wordpress logo to the right.
Icicle Blog
Itinerary flexibility to allow you to take full advantage of the weather windows on any day, to maximise your summit chances.
Our prices are fixed in £ Sterling, to protect you from exchange rates, so you can budget accurately.
There is a choice of routes to opt for, depending on the weather, conditions, and your experience.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.



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