Most Commonly Asked Questions About Climbing Mount Elbrus (Part 2)
Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Didn't see Part 1? Click here to read it.
Gloves For Elbrus?
You will need three different pairs of gloves for Elbrus:
Glove Liners – the best are made from Merino Wool
Mid-Weight Gloves – These can be a similar glove that you’d use for skiing or a pair of thick thermal fleece gloves. As long as the glove is relatively warm as well as waterproof and windproof then they’ll do the trick.
Summit Mitts – these should be incredibly warm, waterproof and windproof mitts. Many people opt for gloves (with five fingers rather than a space for your thumb and then the rest of your fingers) for their summit push but research has shown that mitts are warmer.
Why three different sets of gloves? Because the temperature varies so much between Base Camp and the Summit of Mount Elbrus. Your glove liner is usually perfect for the lower altitudes to protect your hands from the sun and a light breeze or brisk chill. A mid-weight glove will not be warm enough for the Summit, while a Summit mitt would be way too warm for the lower altitudes.
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 also find
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
More Information: The 35 Best Exercises For Mountaineering & Trekking Training
Is Elbrus Harder Than Kilimanjaro?
Although the mountains are of similar height, Elbrus requires a little bit of technical skills, such as the use of mountaineering boots, crampons and an ice axe, as well as learning how to self-arrest and rescue someone from a crevasse as the climb between High Camp and the Summit crosses over snow and ice with the potential to fall into a crevasse.
Another big factor that makes Elbrus harder than Kilimanjaro is the load carrying. On Kilimanjaro you have porters who help you with all of your gear, letting you enjoy the climb with just the weight of your day pack. On Elbrus, you will most likely be expected to carry your own gear (depending on your tour provider) which means lugging a close to 15kg backpack up and down the mountain.
The summit night on Elbrus is much harder than Kilimanjaro simply because of the massive vertical ascent. On Elbrus you will have to ascend 1,742m while on Kilimanjaro, you will only ascend about 1,200m. That 542 vertical meters will make a huge difference.
For an general comparison between Kilimanjaro and Elbrus, checkout my blog A Guide To The Three Trekking Peaks Of The Seven Summits where you’ll find an overview and basic description of each climb and what you can expect from both mountains.
Is Elbrus Easy To Climb?
Elbrus can either 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. Read the next question for this one!
Elbrus – North Or South Route?
The North and South Routes are very different from each other, not just in terms of skill level required but also in the surrounding scenery. For more information and pros and cons of each route, again checkout my blog Elbrus - Everything You Need To Know About The Two Routes
How High Is Elbrus?
5,642m or 18,510ft
Elbrus actually has two summits of similar heights – The West Summit (5,642m or 18,510ft) and the East Summit (5,621m or 18,442ft). If you are on the North Route, your lead guide will normally decide on summit day at about 5,100m, which summit you will go for – East or West. You may be aiming for the West Summit but depending on the weather and the overall stamina and grit of your team, you may be directed towards the East Summit, which is three hours shorter in duration.
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, titled The Essential Gear List as well as The Essential Gear List Table with up to date recommended products. I recommend using your tour providers list as well as my book to perfect your gear and packing techniques for Elbrus.