Most Commonly Asked Questions About Climbing Mount Elbrus (Part 1)
Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Elbrus, Nearest Airport?
Mineralnye Vody Airport, which is about 200km from Elbrus and Nalchik, which is about 120km from Elbrus. Both airports can be reached by taking a connecting flight from either Moscow or St Petersburg.
Where Is Mount Elbrus?
In the Western part of the Caucasus mountain range in the South part of Russia. It is about 226km from the Georgian boarder.
5,642m or 18,510ft
When Is The Best Time To Climb Elbrus?
The climbing season normally begins from about mid-May and ends mid-September, however the best time to climb is somewhere in the middle of that time frame. Often the weather is bad and very unpredictable at the start and end of the climbing period because of the changes in season. So you’re best chance of good weather is in the middle of the official climbing season.
How Many Days To Climb Elbrus?
The climb to the Summit is normally 7 or 8 days, depending on your tour provider’s itinerary.
How Much Does It Cost To Climb Elbrus?
Depending on the tour provider you choose, this can vary between US $2000 and US $4000. It used to be much cheaper but with the increase in tourism and the huge growth spurt in mountaineering, there has been an influx of new tour providers that has slowly increased the avergae price over the last six years or so.
How Tough Is Elbrus?
It can be extremely hard or just hard. I am yet to meet someone who has waved off Elbrus and said that it was easy; even though I am sure the professional climbers of this world would rate Elbrus as easy. But for the general person, like you and I, Elbrus is hard or extremely hard. The difference in difficulty comes down to the level of your commitment and dedication to your training and overall preparation.
One of the main factors besides the commitment to your training program is the long and arduous summit night. You would normally begin at High Camp (3,900m) and climb 1,742m within about 9 hours, followed by a 4 to 5 hour descent.
Of all the Seven Summits, Elbrus actually has the largest Summit night ascent compared to all of them. To put it into perspective, the Summit night push on Everest is about 850 vertical meters. Elbrus is double that and then some. Don’t mistake me; I am not saying that Elbrus is harder than Everest but I am just putting it into perspective how long the ascent is on the Elbrus Summit night.
Another factor to consider is the route you decide to take because the North Route is classified as the more challenging route compared to the South Route. For more information and pros and cons of each route, checkout my blog Elbrus - Everything You Need To Know About The Two Routes
How Cold Is Elbrus?
During the climbing season, you can expect temperatures to drop right down to about -30°C/-22°F at the Summit. This is of course hugely dependant on the weather. When you are preparing for a mountain, it is always better to take the coldest possible temperature as guidance rather than the average temperature. If you don’t get such frigid temperatures then lucky you but if bad weather does hit you, you’ll be well prepared and won’t worry about frostnip or frostbite.
What Boots For Elbrus?
You will need normal trekking boots as well as mountaineering boots – specifically B1 or B2 boots with compatible crampons. When you buy your boots, be sure to use the following tips and tricks:
· Always try your boots on with a pair of thin trekking socks and a pair of thick mountaineering socks. You will more than likely use two pairs on your summit night attempt and if you try your boots on with the wrong socks on, you may find your boots incredibly tight and uncomfortable on your final ascent.
· Always take your boots with you when you are buying crampons. You can ask the sales assistant to make sure they are compatible with your boot as well as ask him or her to fit the crampons according to your boot.
· If you can’t afford to buy a pair of B1 or B2 boots or crampons, know that you can rent them. There are loads of mountaineering rental companies who offer this service as well as some tour providers.
Confused about boots? Read this.
Training For Elbrus?
Training for any mountain takes dedication and hard work. Elbrus is no different, but most of all… it takes a mountaineering and trekking specific training plan. It is not enough to casually do some exercise here and there.
How you train at sea level is how you will perform at altitude. If you give your training 50% then don’t expect your body and mind to give 100% on your climb. It just doesn’t work that way. If you aren’t fit enough at sea level, you certainly won’t be fit at altitude.
Your training for Elbrus needs to be mountaineering and trekking specific.
Here’s a better way to understand that statement, you wouldn’t expect a footballer to be practicing a tennis serve and doing his speed work on a tennis court. He will be on a football field doing exercises that specifically work the muscles and cardiovascular systems he needs to perform at his best in football. This is the same for climbing a mountain. You must train with a certain specificity for the task at hand. I’ve written an entire blog to help you integrate this into your training plan. You can find that information here: The 5 Essential Training Principles Of Mountaineering & Trekking
You can of course go online and download a free cookie cut training plan to train for Elbrus, but whoever wrote that plan certainly didn’t have you in mind or take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses, time constraints, physical surroundings or gym accessibility. I agree a plan is better than no plan, but if you want a high altitude training plan specific to your climb, to your body and and to build on your weaknesses and take your strengths to an even greater level then checkout the details to my Mountaineering & Trekking Training Program
Elbrus Kit List
Normally, your tour provider will give you an exact kit list but if you are looking for a little more detail into the exact gear you need, why you need it and how to properly use it, as well as store it then have a look at my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World”. In it you will find an entire chapter dedicated to your gear list, including in depth explanations what each piece of gear actually is and what it is used for. You'll understand the difference between down and synthetic down, which sleeping bag is best for you and so much more.
I've also created a Resources Page where you'll find a quick copy of The Essential Gear List that you can download and print as well as a few other helpful resources.
Continue onto Part 2 here - Most Commonly Asked Questions About Climbing Mount Elbrus (Part 2)