Climb Mount Elbrus | South Route Approach | Expedition

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Mount Elbrus, Russia - 5642m 

A huge double-domed dormant volcano located in the spectacular Caucasus Mountains of Russia. One of the best known 'Seven Summits'.

The Mountain

Where: Caucasus Range, Russia
Altitude: 5642m
Duration: 10 Days
Mount Elbrus is a huge double-domed dormant volcano located in the spectacular Caucasus Mountains of Russia. The west summit of Mount Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe. Technically, the South route approach of Mount Elbrus is a straight-forward ascent and a perfect prospect for those wanting to gain ice and snow experience and basic mountaineering skills. 

The Challenge

Standing at such a height, the largest challenges for climbers are the altitude and unpredicatable nature of the weather - making this a challenging and adventurous undertaking.  Our itinerary allows for maximum acclimatisation time and two opportunities for a summit attempt, in case of bad weather. An ascent of Mount Elbrus requires basic mountaineering skills, which can be learnt as part of the trip. Participants will need to be prepared for multiple long days on the hill. Summit day can take between 8 - 12 hours and can often be in harsh weather. 

Once we have established high camp, we prepare for an early morning departure to the West Summit (the higher of the twin peaks). The route ascends 1000m of moderate snow climbing to the saddle. From there, we turn west and head up 300m of steeper terrain, finally reaching the summit plateau.  Elbrus is the near-perfect ascent for aspiring climbers who wish to test their skills at increasing altitude. Although only basic mountaineering skills are required, high altitude and unpredictable weather make this a challenging and enticing ascent.


Dates and Prices

DepartReturnNo. DaysPriceDepositAvailability 
 23rd August 2019 1st September 2019 10 days  £1795 £448.75 Taking Bookings BOOK NOW
    10 Days £1895 £473.75 Taking Bookings BOOK NOW

This is a ‘Land Only’ package meaning you are responsible for arranging your own flights and your trip will begin on arrival in country. We will inform you of the best flight deals and times to suit your itinerary. However, feel free to search for an alternative. If you are arriving via another airport is it your responsibility to ensure you coordinate with our groups flights to arrange meeting point.


Book any of our trips as a private departure, just for you and your group on your chosen date. Contact us for conditions, costs and availability.

 Information Book pdf

  The Expedition at a Glance

International travel to Mineralnye Vody via Moscow airport. (please note: flights are not included in this package)

Arriving in Mineralnye Vody, just to the North of the beautiful Caucasus mountain range, we will then have a 4 hour transfer to our comfortable hotel for the night. Here you will receive a full briefing from your leader and meet our local crew. Following dinner you will then have an opportunity to prepare for the following days activity.

A day hike will take us up to a possible height of 3461m, Peak Cheget (Maliy Donguzorun). This will the beginning of our acclimatisation programme and hopefully offer us views across to our goal, Elbrus. 

Today we head up to the mountain huts that sit under Elbrus.  We can transfer some equipment and take a walk above the huts to aid acclimatisation.  It will also offer the opportunity to brush up the essential skills of walking in crampons.  We will then return to the valley to rest.

Today we move to our mountain refuge at 3800m. We will use the ski lift infrastructure to transport ourselves and kit to the refuge. This will be our home for the next few days, so the rest of the day will be a chance to rest and settle in. Living on the mountain is more basic than in our hotel but food will be plentiful and prepared for us. If fitness in the group is good we may use the afternoon for further acclimatisation and will be a chance to practice our mountaineering skills.

From the hut we will continue to climb towards Pastuckhov rocks - 4700m. Along the way we’ll practice our crampon and ice axe skills on the icy slopes. Tonight we will descend back to the huts for a well-earned rest.

Following yesterday’s acclimatisation we will have an easier day allowing for our bodies to recover and prepare for our summit attempt.

These days are allocated for acclimbatisation and for our summit attempts. Starting at around 3am a snow-cat can take us the first part of the way to Pastuchov’s Rock The snow-cat is optional, see 'What's included in the price' section). This is ground we have already covered the previous day and will save us 2 - 4 hours in time and a lot of energy!. We will then continue on foot towards Sedlowina Saddle, the col between the two peaks of Elbrus and then on to the summit, the highest point in Europe. This could be a very long day taking up to 12 hours but worth the effort. 

Once we have summitted it will take approx 3 - 4  hours to return to the huts.

Having spent another night in the huts recovering from our epic climb, we will descend back to the valley for lunch, a warm comfortable hotel, shower a beer (not always in that order!!).

NOTE: Depending on which day we are able to summit due to the unpredictable weather, we may descend to the Baksan valley early. This will mean an extra night in a hotel is required. (This night in the hotel is not covered in the trip price. Approx. £30.00)

A morning transfer will take us back to Mineralnye Vody and on our onward travel back to the UK.

Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary, but as this is Adventure Travel in a remote mountain region, we cannot guarantee it. Weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle breakdowns and the health of participants can all contribute to changes. Your Leader and our local agent will try to ensure that the trip runs according to plan, but an easy going nature will be an asset!

  Expedition Highlights
  • Stand on the highest point in Europe.
  • Learn essential mountaineering skills as part of the trip. 
  • Travel in a unique and often cumbersome country which offers an experience to remember
  • 2 potential summit days.
  • Use the snow-cat to cover ground you ahve already walked
  • Led by an experienced UK leader and local guides
Unique Character

The mighty Caucasus mountain range links the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, and creates the natural boundary between the steppes of Russia and the southern states of Azerbaydzhani, Georgia and Armenia. Mt. Elbrus, the pinnacle of this 700-mile stretch, has long been a distinguished climbing centre for the European and Russian climbing communities. Elbrus can easily be seen from most of the high passes in the area and is a traditional climb for those looking to ascend above 5500m. The Caucasus (or Kavkaz meaning ‘more than mountains’), offers excellent climbing and skiing terrain to the outdoor enthusiast.

  Fitness and Training

Who is this expedition best for?

Mount Elbrus is an extreme, high altitude climb requiring familiarity with snow and ice skills (up to 45 degree slopes). Whilst having some mountaineering experience of walking in crampons and using an ice axe is preferable, we do provide on-site tuition in the basic mountaineering skills. These skills are essential to ensure a safe summit.

If you would like to gain winter mountaineering experience before joining the trip, join one of our Scottish Winter Hills Skills courses.

Climbing Mount Elbrus is a serious undertaking and our programme focuses on your safety throughout. We ensure you are fully prepared by discussing with you issues related to altitude, ensuring you have the right skills to stay safe whilst on the mountain and, for example, highlighting the importance of good personal layering systems to keep out the cold.

Participants should be fit and oou should be comfortable walking 4-8 hours per day. Summit day is the most demanding portion of the climb, typically involving 8 hours for the ascent and 6-7 hours for the descent. Our expeditions require strength & endurance. Being in sound physical condition is the single most important aspect for climbers to maximise their climbing potential. The better your physical condition, the more likely you are to perform well and have an enjoyable experience. The most frequent comment we have received over the years is that climbers have underestimated the fitness level needed to fully enjoy their trip.

Additionally, inadequate fitness will affect the atmosphere, pace, and overall enjoyment of the climb for all participants. We highly recommend checking with your doctor before undertaking any strenuous activity.

This is an ideal trip for those who have already summited Kilimanjaro or the higher peaks in Morocco or similar.

Preparation for climbing Mount Elbrus

Climbing Mount Elbrus is a serious undertaking. Just because you exercise regularly (four to six times per week) does not mean you have the conditioning needed to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Plenty of people who have the endurance to run a marathon fail to summit high-altitude peaks. Pure cardiovascular fitness is simply not enough. You need to be able to ascend hundreds of metres on successive days carrying a day pack on your back.

Prioritise your training efforts in the following way, assuming that you are in good health and injury- free:

  1. Climbing Mount Elbrus conditioning – bag-loaded uphill hiking, walking, and stair climbing
  2. Strength training for the lower body and core
  3. Cardiovascular training, including both aerobic and anaerobic workouts without pack weight
  4. Flexibility training

Most people will need to train specifically for climbing Mount Elbrus for at least three to four months. During your training, you will need to progressively ramp up your hiking time, distance and elevation gain (at roughly 10% per week) to safely and effectively build your trekking-specific conditioning. Trying to rush this will increase the risk of experiencing some sort of training injury and not being ready for your trip.

If you are interested in learning mountaineering skills prior to joining this expedition, we would highly recommend one of our Scottish Winter Hill Skills programmes.


This trek is challenging in itself, but the main challenge lies in the altitude. 

Our route allows for excellent acclimatisation to the altitude and allows you to follow the golden rule of acclimatisation ‘Climb High, Sleep Low’.

Symptoms of being at altitude include tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea. Altitude affects people differently and being super-fit is no guarantee of being less likely to feel the effects. All of our leaders have experience of trekking at altitude and are medically trained. The leader will assess your progress as you climb and their decision is final if you need to descend for safety reasons.

For more information regarding the effects of altitude, please read this current article. 

Recognising altitude sickness and how to prevent it


  What's Included in the Price

Whats Provided?

  1. In-country accommodation - Hotels and Mountain Huts 
  2. All meals excl. celebratory meal and final day lunch 
  3. All drinking water whilst trekking 
  4. Technical equipment  - crampons, axes, helmets if required
  5. In-country transportation
  6. National Park trekking fees and permits
  7. Local Guides, Cooks and  Porters
  8. 1 x ascent and descent on ski lifts
  9. Experienced UK Expedition Leader throughout







To assist on summit night it may be possible to use a snowcat (an all-terrain vehicle) to drive us up to around 4700m. The snowcat will take us over terrain already covered in our acclimatisation days and is no way cheating in climbing to the summit. It will save approx 3 hours off our summit day and also allow us to conserve some energy on what is already a tough nights climb.

The use of the snowcat is not mandatory and if you decide not to use it, there will be a guide available to walk with you.

The cost of the snowcat £500 - £1000 and is shared amongst the group. Therefore allow for £100+ each. If it is not possible to fill a whole vehicle then other teams on the mountain will be approached to join us to spread the cost.


Whats not Provided?

  1. UK Transport to and from the airport
  2. International flights and taxes 
  3. Personal Equipment 
  4. Travel Insurance 
  5. The hire of suitable boots if required. 
  6. Unscheduled hotels and restaurant meals. approx. £30.00 per night.
  7. Tips for Local staff. (we will advise on amounts)
  8. Entry Visas.
  9. Alcoholic or soft drinks not supplied during meals
  10. Entrance fees to monuments or tourist sights
  11. Items of a personal nature: phone calls, laundry, room service etc.
  12. Accommodation and meals for any extra nights in the valley due to summiting early.
  13. Transport to airport or from airport due to differing departure times.  Private transfers = approx. £70.00.



All UK citizens are required to have a visa before arriving in Russia. Visas need to be obtained well in advance of the climb and can be obtained from the Russian Embassy or consulate. Before obtaining a visa, a letter of invitation from Russia must accompany your application. We will contact you with information on how to obtain a visa.


 Mount Elbrus Kit List



  • Double Mountaineering boots 6000m. i.e.Scarpa Vega, La Sportiva Spantiks or G5's 
  • Trekking shoes or Walking boots 
  • 3 - 4 x pairs of trekking socks + Pairs of thicker socks for very cold conditions 
  • Gaiters - For keeping snow out of boots (optional) 


  • 3 x Thermal t-shirts (long and short sleeved) 
  • 2 x Fleece tops (1 thick, 1 thin) or Primaloft jacket. 
  • Walking type trousers (zip off legs are ideal) 
  • 1 x Shorts (if you don’t have zip off leg trousers) 
  • 1 x Pair light weight trekking gloves or liner gloves 
  • 1 x Pair Heavy weight Glove or Mitten. Must be big enough to fit over liner gloves 
  • Warm hat to cover ears & Sunhat / Cap 
  • Neck gaiter or Buff 
  • Fully waterproof over-trousers with taped seams. i.e. Gore-tex or eVent 
  • Waterproof Shell Jacket i.e.Gore-Tex +with hood 
  • Down Jacket with hood. essential for summit day and evenings around camp 


  • Extra pair of trousers for evenings 
  • Long Sleeved Shirt 
  • Long Thermal top and bottoms 
  • Underwear
  • Hut slippers or trainers
  • Swimming costume if youre planning to use the sauna!


  • Ice Axe - Mountaineering / Walking axe + Leash
  • Crampons - C2 walking crampons 
  • Climbing Harness / Helmet
  • 2 x screw gate carabiners + 3m of 9mm dynamic cord 


  • Passport + Photocopy
  • Tourist Voucher and Tourist Confirmation

  • Visa Money 
  • Money to be changed in country 
  • Money for tips £30 - £40
  • Money for Snow-cat £100+
  • Credit Card 
  • Insurance Documentation 
  • Immunisation Card 
  • Airline Tickets 
  • Money Belt 





  1. No suitcases! Using a zip top expedition bag is easier for access. Also a small mesh bag is useful forleaving item at the hotel.
  2. You must only carry 1 bag and your day bag. Weight on the flight is limited and porters can only carry a certain amount of weight so please pack responsibly.  
  3. Each item is required unless specified as optional.
  4. It is possible to hire items of equipment. Our preferred provider is: 




  • Soft Expedition holdall 75 - 90 Ltr
  • Waterproof Rucksack liner or small dry bags 
  • Small Day Bag - 30 - 40 Ltr with good hip belt and suitable for carrying all day 


  • Sleeping mat (foam or inflatable is preferable. Not essemntial but may improve comfort) 
  • Sleeping bag - 3/4 season minimum 
  • Light Weight Dry bag for sleeping bag 
  • Sleeping bag liner (optional) 
  • Head Torch (Battery operated only) 
  • Spare batteries for head torch 
  • Wide necked pee bottle (optional) 


  • 3 x 1ltr Water bottles (wide necked is better) Do not use water bladder as they will freeze.
  • Water Purification Tablets (for back up only) 
  • Vit C Tablets and/or Hydration Tablets 
  • Water Flavouring


  • Hand Sanitiser (LOTS!)
  • 1 x Toilet roll and plastic nappy bags 
  • Ear Plugs 
  • Wet Wipes 
  • Essential wash kit/personal hygiene items 
  • Light Weight Towel 


  • Camera 
  • Trekking Poles - highly recommended 
  • Sun Glasses. Cat.3/4 100% UVA/UVB(Wrap Around style is preferred)
  • Ski Googles. 100% UVA/UVB 
  • Extra snacks. High energy and lightweight (a couple per day)
  • Luxury treats which you can share with the group. i.e. chocolate or coffee 
  • iPod / Book / Kindle / Diary 
  • Charging cables and plug adaptor 



  • High Factor Sun Block SP50+ and Lip Balm / Block
  • Diarrhoea Tablets (Imodium) 
  • Painkillers 
  • Rehydration Sachets 
  • Plasters 
  • Blister Plasters (Compeed)
  • Personal medication 
  • Diamox (Acetazolamide). Seek advice on its use. (optional)



As a company we've recognised that the additional cost of having to buy clothing and equipment can be a barrier to booking on some of our programmes and expeditions. 

With this in mind we've teamed up with Cotswold Outdoor. Arguably, the UK's largest outdoor retailer with stores across the country and an online shop to make purchasing as easy as possible.

All clients will recieve a 15% discount code once your deposit is paid.



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