Mt. Elbrus, Russia
The climbing objective of this expedition to Russia is Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe (18,481 ft) and one of the “Seven Summits”. It is located in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains and is relatively little known outside of eastern Europe. As beautiful as the Swiss Alps, the Caucasus have sharp angulated peaks (twelve higher than Mt. Blanc) joined by complex glaciers and colorful valleys. Stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian, this area is accented by rich cultural heritage sure to charm every visitor.
This is a high altitude expedition to a massif with an enormous armor of ice covering an area of more than 145 square kilometers. More than 70 glaciers flow from its slopes. The sheer extent of its snowfields has led to its nickname “Little Antarctica”. Given Elbrus’s great height, acclimatization is essential; we use cable cars, take day hikes, and practice glacier travel skills. Once acclimatized we make a camp at the former Pruitt hut at 14,157 ft. The long summit day route (more than 3,000 ft of climbing) follows snowfields and glaciers to the col between East and West peaks and finally to the summit.
The team refines the trip itinerary to suit the level of skill and commitment of its members, recognizing the interest in immersion in local culture and the need to acclimatize. We can expect to travel in extensively glaciated terrain requiring ice ax, crampons, and rope management skills. Crevasse rescue and roped travel techniques are reviewed to help insure safe passage through snowfields, around ice towers, and while climbing moderate slopes.
Participants are exposed to issues of high altitude physiology, high altitude mountain sickness, nutrition at altitude, evaluation of objective mountain hazards, and an introduction to glacier formation, movement, and route selection.