Situated in the quiet western Caucasus mountain range Mt Elbrus (5642m) is Europe’s highest mountain. Technically straight forward it is a popular choice for a first or second ascent of one of the world famous Seven Summits. Although this ascent uses chairlifts to assist altitude gains, Elbrus remains a challenging mountain to all who attempt it. The trip also includes an ascent of Mt. Cheget (3450m) as part of the acclimatisation process. Further acclimatisation days will enable you to get used to the equipment (such as crampons and ice axes) that will be needed on the glaciated terrain.
The weather in the Elbrus region is changeable, and conditions can deteriorate rapidly; there could be serious storms on the mountain and bright sun- shine in the next valley. Be prepared for temperatures of between -7°C and +21°C, however they could fall as low as -20°C higher up on the mountain. There is a chance of severe winds, rain or snow throughout the year.
Elbrus is 832m (over 2,700ft.) higher than Mont Blanc and is a serious challenge. High altitude, very low temperatures, strong winds and severe weather can all combine to test your limits – both physically and mentally. Nick and the team put everything in place so that you are as ready as you can be to summit this awe-inspiring dormant volcano. From start to finish, this was a truly great experience climbing one of the world’s Seven Summits – and one that will stay with you for a very long time indeed. Thank you Nick and team!
Huw Thomas – Aug 2017
‘Having already done the superb Kilimanjaro expedition with Nick Hollis and Fitways Adventures the next challenge for me was always going to be Mt Elbrus. There was only ever going to be one leader / guide that I would want to go on such another expedition with and that was Nick. Nick’s professionalism, organisation and attention to detail and, most importantly, safety is simply second to none. Elbrus was incredibly challenging and an amazing experience that I was fortunate enough to enjoy with some wonderful fellow adventurers and we are now all left with memories for a lifetime. Huge thanks to Nick hollis and Fitways Adventures.
Phil Smith – Aug 2017
“The adventure on Mount Elbrus with Fitways and my comrades was a real “once-in-a-lifetime” experience (yes I know it’s a cliché but it’s true!). With a unique group of fellow adventurers, the mountain weather, the frequent tests (physical, mental, emotional), the challenge of high altitude, the “spirit” rising through the effect of the unknown together with the great Fitways organisation and ethos leading you, an adventure like this is a real growth experience. Not to be missed!”
Ian Burns – Aug 2017
An awesome trip to a stunning and dramatic landscape Nicks commitment to all the fine details, safety and the inclusion of all members of the team made it such an amazing trip I’ve made such great friends with everyone most of whom I’m travelling away with on another Fitways Adventure later this year I highly recommend Fitways for their experience and competence and Attention to detail.
Alex Stallwood – Aug 2017
6-7 days on the mountain.
Daily walking time:
4 to 14 hours
Max team size:
3 Aug – 11 Aug 2019
The climb of Mt. Elbrus is long and strenuous. To approach this trek, you need a good level of fitness, a positive mental attitude and ideally some experience of trekking at altitude. It is not technically difficult but usually requires crampons, and sometimes ice-axes. No previous experience or climbing skills are required – but winter skills training would be helpful.
To get the most from your expedition, Fitways Adventures offer winter skills Climate training courses to make sure you have all the skills and fitness that you need HERE.
Arrive at Mineralnye Vody airport.
You will be greeted by a Fitways representative and driven to the Semerka hotel in Terskol for your overnight stay (Transfer time approximately 4 hours). (D)
Acclimatisation hike to Terskol observatory (3100m).
After breakfast you will be taken on a day hike from the hotel to the Terskol observatory (3100m). Your walk will take you through hillsides filled with wildflowers and past a large waterfall. The views, both down into the Baksan valley and up to the twin peaks of Elbrus can be stunning on a clear day. Overnight stay in Semerka hotel. (B, L, D)
Acclimatisation day: Ascent to Cheget Peak (3404 metres).
Today is the second acclimatisation day. You will use the chairlifts to gain some height before continuing your hike up to Cheget Peak. The route will give you some magnificent views over Mt. Elbrus and will involve a short scramble towards the end. Overnight stay in Semerka hotel. (B, L, D)
Acclimatisation day: Hike on the slopes of Mount Elbrus around Barrels huts (3800 metres).
After breakfast you will be transported to the chairlifts for your journey to Barrels huts. The huts will be your base for the next few days as you don your crampons and put your winter skills training to the test. Overnight stay in the Barrels huts. (B, L, D)
Acclimatisation day: Hike to Pastukhova Rocks (4800 metres).
Today will be your final acclimatisation day. Once again you will wear your crampons and hike to Pastukhova Rocks; marking the halfway point to the summit. You will return to the huts in the afternoon. It is advisable to get plenty of sleep tonight; in preparation for tomorrow’s final ascent to the summit. Overnight stay in the Barrels huts. (B, L, D)
Summit day (5642 metres).
An early start today, as you will be up and ready to leave for your summit attempt at around 3am. Initially you will travel by the ‘snow cat’ to yesterday’s destination Pastukhova Rocks. As the sun begins to rise you will begin your gruelling climb up to the saddle before turning westwards towards the highest peak in Europe!! Having celebrated at the top you will begin your descent back to Barrels huts. Overnight stay in the Barrels huts. (B, L, D)
Reserve Summit day.
Today is either a reserve day for a second summit attempt (in case of bad weather on day 6). If already successful you will descend back to Terskol for a celebratory evening meal. Overnight stay in either Semerka hotel or in Barrels huts. (B, L, D)
Today is a free day. If you summited on day 6 you will have a free day to hike or explore local area on your own. If you have summited on day 7 you will take breakfast at the huts before descending back to Terskol. Overnight stay in Semerka hotel. (B, D)
Transfer to the airport.
After breakfast the group will be transported to Mineralnye Vody airport for your journey home (Transfer time approximately 4 hours). (B)
The Fitways Adventures goal is to provide you with a stress & hassle free trip a cut above the rest. We go the extra mile to organize everything using quality sources so you can sit back and enjoy the trip. We don’t want to be one of the companies guiding trains of people up the mountain, so we limit our group size to 8, giving you a more personal service.
- Transfer to and from Min Vody airport.
- 4 or 5 nights accommodation in Semerka hotel in Terskol (depending on summit day). You will usually be sharing a twin room.
- 3 or 4 nights accommodation on the mountain (in huts). Dormitory conditions.
- Lift passes for chair lifts and cable car.
- Local guides with good English and extensive experience guiding on Mt. Elbrus.
- Trip lead by an International Mountain Leader who first summited Elbrus in
- 2008 and has subsequently spent many years running adventure trips at high altitudes.
- All meals will be provided during the trip with the exception of lunch on days 1, 8 and 9. Food in the huts will be provided by a privately hired chef ensuring that wholesome homemade food is available throughout. This ensures that we are able to cater for most of the dietary requirements of our guests.
- International flights.
- Lunch on day 1, 8 and 9.
- Visa – must be arranged in advance.
- Tip for local guides.
- Any additional meals and drinks that you may decide to purchase.
- Mountaineering equipment: This can be hired separately either through Fitways Adventures or locally upon arrival (please see section within trip notes for further information).
The currency of Russia is the Russian Ruble (₽). In September 2015 £1 = ₽99. There are a few ATM’s in Terskol that have a reputation of working erratically. It may be best to arrive in the region with local currency rather than relying on them.
It can be difficult to get full travel insurance to climb in the Caucasus. In our experience True Traveller insurance (www.truetraveller.com) is a company that will cover this trip. Alternatively, several forums have suggested that you could obtain insurance from a non-UK based company such as the Austrian Alpine Club (www.aacuk.org).
Please note: it is possible to travel without special climbing insurance: First aid, rescue and initial hospitalisation are free in Russia.
This will be used to carry all the items you will need on the trip. On day 4 you will be required to carry all of your luggage from the hotel to the Barrels huts. The majority of this journey is by cable car and chairlift. However, in the case of adverse weather the chairlift may not operate. You will then be required to hike with your luggage up to the huts which will take approximately 1 hour.
This will be used daily to carry personal effects whilst trekking on the mountain. Your group leader will give you a briefing about what you need to carry. Essentials will include: water, waterproofs, warm hat & gloves, sun cream, your personal first aid kit, camera and snacks/packed lunch.
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.
In Russia the standard voltage is 220 V. The power sockets that are used are European 2 pin systems.
The Semerka hotel has internet and wifi access for guests.
It is important that you test your equipment before you come to climb Mount Elbrus, making sure your crampons fit your boots and that you can put them on and take them off quickly and efficiently. Test your clothing systems and determine what works best for you. There is no one right way to dress, but layering is essential. Make sure your clothes fit and that they are roomy enough for strenuous activity. Proper broken-in boots are of great importance.
- Valid passport
- 2 Copies of first page + visa page of your passport
- Airline tickets
- Voucher copy (a copy of the form which was sent to you for obtaining visa).
- Waterproof jacket (breathable e.g. GoreTex)
- Down jacket (medium weight rated to -10°C)
- Mid-weight fleece jacket (or soft-shell)
- Walking Trousers (A light weight and warm pair)
- Waterproof trousers (ideally lightweight)
- Plastic boots or crampon-compatible heavy leather mountaineering boots. (It is advisable to wear them on the plane so that in the event that your baggage goes astray, you’ll have them with you)
- Trainers/Trail shoes (for evenings, lower on the trail as well as in town)
- Snow gaiters (ideally knee length or super-gaiters to cover whole boot)
- 3 pairs of warm walking socks
- 3 pairs of lighter weight socks (ideal for use with trainers around camp)
- 3 x base layer trousers/thermals
- 3 x base layer (ideally long-sleeved)
- 4 T-shirts (not cotton)
- Liner gloves
- Warm waterproof gloves or mitts
- Buff/Balaclava/windproof mask
- Warm hat (something that will cover your ears)
- Sun hat
- Sunglasses/ski goggles (must be Category 4 rated)
- Sleeping bag liner
- Sleeping Bag (Comfort Rated to -5°C to -10°C)
- Ear plugs (great for ensuring a good night’s sleep)
- Eye mask (useful if your room mate wants to read)
- Pocket knife/multi-tool
- Head torch and 3 sets of spare batteries
- Ski/trekking poles*
- Crampons (and protectors) *
- Ice axe (and protector)*
- 2 x carabiners*
* these items can be rented separately from Fitways Adventures (please see section below)
- Wash kit (including biodegradable soap & shampoo) – please keep any heavy items, including cosmetics, to a minimum
- Wet wipes
- Small quick dry towel
- Notepad and pen
- Books or e-reader
- Contact lenses, solution and glasses (avoid metal frames)
- Rubber sink stopper/plug for sinks in hotel (these are not usually available in Russian hotels)
- Adapter for any electrical appliances
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitiser
- Sun block and lip balm with high SPF
- Plastic bowl, cup and spoon
- Water bottles (2 x 1 – 1.5L)
- Lightweight flask (0.5 – 1L)
- Any snacks that you would like to take onto the mountain
- Camera and spare batteries/charger
- Plastic (Ziploc) bags or dry bags – perfect for keeping your kit organised & dry
- Any prescription or over the counter medications used regularly (these will not be available in the Caucasus).
- Blister plasters (Compeed recommended)
- 10cm elastic bandage (for sprains and to hold dressings)
- Triangular sling
- Safety pins
- Sewing needle – to drain blisters and remove splinters
- 10 Assorted sticking plasters
- Roll of 2.5cm tape (micropore)
- Triangular bandage
- Eye drops
- Pain killers (e.g. Paracetamol)
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen)
- Ciproflaxin (10 tablets). Excellent for travellers diarrhoea
- Motion sickness tablets
- Rehydration tablets/salts
- Throat lozenges
You can rent some of the mountaineering equipment needed on this tour from Fitways Adventures. If you wish to rent something please inform us beforehand so we can ensure availability.
The cost of hire will be added to your final invoice and payable 60 days in advance of travel (in line with our terms and conditions www.fitwaysadventures.co.uk/terms-conditions-international).
The items are also available to be rented locally upon arrival but supplies cannot be guaranteed.
Ski/trekking poles £5
Ski poles are extremely useful during your Mt. Elbrus climb. You will be provided with telescopic easily adjustable ski poles .
Harness, sling and carabiner package £15
Due to the nature of the trip there may be times where participants need to be roped together to ensure safe crossing of icy terrain. This package will include a lightweight mountaineering harness, sling and 2 carabiners. They will be needed for self belay and give more flexibility when connecting to the main rope.
Crampons and protector £15
Crampons are essential during this trip to ensure good stability on the snow. We provide a lightweight universal crampons that are fully adjustable by hand.
Ice axe and protector £10
An ice axe is an essential piece of personal safety equipment when hiking through mountainous snowy terrain. During your trip you will revise how to use it as part of you safety briefing and winter skills training.