Russia – Mt Elbrus (South Route)

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  • Duration: 9 Days
  • Grading: 3C
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Mt Elbrus (5642m) is famed as one of the Seven Summits and the highest mountain in Europe and Russia. It is an inactive double-coned volcano (last eruption around 50A.D) that is located in the Caucasus Range in southern Russia near the border with Georgia.

Though Mt Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe and located in the rugged Caucasus Mountains, it is one of the easiest ice and snow peaks on the continent. The standard south route, supported by ski lifts, cable cars and snowcats, is said to have a high success rate of close to 90% and attracts a large number of both experienced and amateur climbers each summer.

Despite the high success rate, there are still causalities each summer and the mountain is not to be taken lightly. One of the biggest danger of climbing Mt Elbrus is the weather, which can be particularly nasty on the mountain.

Besides the standard south route and the more challenging northern route, there are a few more difficult routes that lead up to Mt Elbrus’ peaks. These routes are hardly attempted, has scarce information and not supported by any mountain huts.

About The Climb

Mt Elbrus has two summits. The west summit (5642m) is slightly higher than the east summit (5621m). We climb only the west summit, which is the one included in the Seven Summits.

The climb does not start on Mt Elbrus but with an acclimatising climb on Terskol Peak (3100m). The following day, take a cable car cum ski lift ride up to Mt Elbrus’ mountain huts area (National Park Huts, 3900m). Aside from personal gear, participants are expected to help transport the team’s food and drinking water onto the cable car and ski lift. There will be two days of acclimatisation on Mt Elbrus before summit day. Day 1 of acclimatisation will be to Priutt 11 Refuge (4100m) and day 2 to Pastukhov Rocks (4700m). The 2 days of acclimatisation allow for mountaineering boots and crampons footwork practice, in particular, for those wearing them for the first time. There will also be an ice axe self-arrest training session on either of the two acclimatisation days or the rest day.

The summit climb begins from the mountain huts area. Some teams will choose to take a snowcat up to a higher altitude (4600m to 4700m) to increase their summit success chances. Each team makes a collective team decision on the use of the snowcat after the two days of acclimatisation. The snowcat fee is not included in the package and is to be paid in cash on the ground.

The snow line generally starts at or after the mountain huts area in summer. The summit route up to Pastukhov Rocks is the same route used for the acclimatisation climb. This section is a wide vertical open snowfield that allows snowcats to plough up and down. After Pastukhov Rocks, the route narrows to a long traverse that leads up to the saddle between the east and west peaks. Beyond the saddle is a 40 – 60 degree steep snow slope (around 200m), where a fixed rope has been put in place to ensure safety. At the end of the snow slope sits a wide open plateau, followed by another gentler and shorter snow slope up to the peak.

The descent from the summit to the mountain huts area is the same route as the ascent.

Mt Elbrus’ standard south route is a fairly straight forward climb and is usually marked with wands. There are no crevasses unless you wander off the established route. While straight forward, the climb, or any mountain climbing for the matter, can still be a trial in bad weather. The extreme cold before sunrise is not to be trivialised too.

Climbing Seasons

The best time to climb Mt Elbrus is in summer, from June to September. July and August are warmest and the weather is usually stable. Hence, they are the best and most popular months.

Having said that, good weather for the summit day can never be guaranteed. Weather will always be an unpredictable element in the mountains. Due to its altitude and surrounding mountain range, Mt Elbrus can produce some extreme weather conditions with very low temperature and should not be underestimated by climbers. Its position between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea – two large bodies of water – has an impact on wind and precipitation too.

In summer, the weather is still brutally cold on Mt Elbrus with night temperature at an average -8°C. Temperature above the snow line can fall to as low as -20°C. Winter ascent is also possible, but it can be very cold, up to -40°C at the top.

Experience Required

This trek is graded 3C. It is a multi-day peak climbing trek with mountain hut facilities.

Important to have 5000m peak climbing experiences. Good to have crampons skills but not essential. Mt Elbrus standard south route is an ideal first foray into peak climbing below 6000m that requires ice and snow skills (mountaineering/double boots, crampons, ice axe and fixed rope skills, etc.).

Though the climb is supported by cable car/ski lift to the mountain huts area and comes with the option of taking a snowcat to 4700m-4900m on summit day, the climb can still be challenging, especially for those new to ice and snow peak. A pair of mountaineering/ double boots with crampons can easily weigh 2kg on each foot. Aside from the weight, mountaineering/double boots often feel rigid and are difficult to walk in because of the structure. Add on a backpack load of 5-6kg, the ice and snow terrain and the altitude, the climb can be a tough challenge demanding a high level of fitness, endurance and strength. For the summit day, be prepared to trek for 12 – 16 hours in mountaineering/double boots with crampons starting at pre-dawn and in extreme cold temperature of -10°C to -20°C.

Equipment and Gear

You can wear a lightweight baselayer or a quick dry t-shirt and long trekking pants for Terskol Peak. For Mt Elbrus, a lightweight baselayer and water and windproof pants are needed. An outer-shell is essential to protect from the weather elements. When at the mountain huts and after sundown, a basic layer of thermal, fleece jacket and down jacket are needed to keep warm. For the summit attempt, you will need the basic 3 layers, a down jacket, water and windproof pants and down mittens. A  down sleeping bag is also needed and can be rented .

The following climbing equipment are required for the summit attempt and can be rented:

  1. Mountaineering boots (double layer or plastic boots)
  2. Crampons
  3. Climbing harness
  4. Walking ice axe
  5. Sewn slings
  6. Locking karabiners

A packing list will be provided to all our participants. Please refer to our Resource Centre page for information on the layering system and how to choose the right gear/equipment for your trek.

DAY DESCRIPTION MEALS
1

Arrive in Mineralyn Vody. Transfer to Terskol Village.

Overnight: Terskol Village hotel (2100m)

– /-/D
2

Acclimatisation trek to Cheget Peak (3000m). Return to Terskol Village.

Overnight: Terskol Village hotel (2100m)

B/L/D
3

Transfer to mountain hut on Mt Elbrus. Acclimatisation climb up to 4100m.

Overnight: Mountain hut dormitory (3900m)

B/L/D
4

Acclimatisation climb to 4700m.

Overnight: Mountain hut dormitory (3900m)

B/L/D
5

Rest day. Training on the glacier (3900m).

Overnight: Mountain hut dormitory (3900m)

B/L/D
6

Summit climb (Mt Elbrus, 5642m). Return to mountain hut.

Overnight: Mountain hut dormitory (3900m)

B/L/D
7

Descend to Terskol Village or Contingency day.

Overnight: Terskol Village hotel (2100m)

B/L/D
8

Day hike in the Baksan valley (2100m).

Overnight: Terskol Village hotel (2100m)

B/L/D
9 Depart Mineralyn Vody. B/-/-

Please note that 2020 climbing season is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

DATES PRICE
26 Jun – 4 Jul 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
3-11 Jul 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
10-18 Jul 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
17-25 Jul 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
24 Jul-1 Aug 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
31 Jul-8 Aug 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
7-15 Aug 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
14-22 Aug 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
21-29 Aug 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
28 Aug-5 Sep 2020 $1,400.00 (SGD)  / person
  • Dates listed are for open international group
  • Group size: 3 – 12 people
  • You can also form a private group. For enquiry, send an email to us at contact@aceadventure.com.sg
Inclusions
  • Return airport transfer
  • All land transfer as in itinerary
  • Meals as in itinerary
  • Boiled drinking water, tea and coffee during meal
  • Accommodation: Local hotel in Terskol (twin/triple sharing). Mixed dormitory (non-heated) in mountain huts on Mt Elbrus
  • Trek/climb support: Mountain climbing guide (1 guide : 3 climbers)
  • Return cable car cum ski lift transfer to mountain huts (1 transfer per way)
  • Entry visa invitation letter & voucher
  • Climbing certificates
Exclusions
  • International air tickets, airline taxes and fuel surcharge
  • Visa fee
  • Mt Elbrus National Park permit fee
  • Single supplement
  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • All tipping
  • Personal guide
  • Snow cat or mobile service on Mt Elbrus
  • Back up day expenses on Mt Elbrus
  • Personal travel insurance (mandatory to cover travel agent insolvency and mountaineering up to 6000m)
  • Personal expenses like shopping, laundry, etc.
  • Personal travel & trekking gear
  • Emergency evacuation and medical expenses
  • Compensation for damaged or lost of personal items (e.g. climbing/trekking gear and equipment, cameras and any valuable items, etc.)
  • Any expenses including accommodation, meals & transfer outside the stipulated trek/climb itinerary – i.e. any person leaving the group for personal travel, illness/injury or any form of extension of stay

Notes on the Inclusions and Exclusions

Airport transfer: You should arrive in Mineralyn Vody no later than 3pm on Day 1 for the group transfer to Terskol. The group transfer leaves Terskol for Mineralyn Vody at 730am on Day 9. If your arrival flight on Day 1 is later than 3pm and departure flight on Day 9 is earlier than 1130am,  you will need to arrange for a private transfer at extra cost.

Mt Elbrus national park permit fee:  Estimated €25 (subject to changes). Fee to be paid directly, in cash, to the national park office in Terskol.

Back up day: If you use the back up day and have to stay at the mountain hut, there is an extra charge of €40 per night/person (full board for a group of 5 people or more).

Snow cat service: From the mountain huts to Pastukhov Rocks costs €700 to 4700m per drive for a group of 2-10 pax (subject to change).

Personal guide service: An individual mountain guide on the summit day €350 per guide.

Pre-trip Support

1. Trip briefing and information kit
2. Gear list and gear discount from selected Singapore outdoor outfitters
3. Complimentary training sessions
4. Rope skill workshop (For climbs that require rope up and/or fixed rope skill)

Local Support

We carefully select and establish strong working relationship with our local trek operator to ensure a high standard of service and safe participation by everyone.

Our local climbing guides have extensive experience in guiding treks in Mt Elbrus, possess  intimate knowledge of the local surroundings, conditions and culture. They are mostly trained in mountain rescue and/or basic and advance mountaineering skills.

Visa

Listed below are the countries whose nationals do not require a short-stay visa in order to enter Russia at all.

Duration

Countries

>90 days

Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, South Ossetia

90 days

Abkhazia, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela,

60 days

Mauritius

30 days

Cuba, Seychelles

The rest of foreign nationals visiting Russian Federation must obtain a visa to enter Russia. A visa invitation (also referred to as a tourist voucher, visa support, invitation, visa invitation or invitation letter) is the main document which is required for formal visa application at the Russian Consulate. The visa support is not an invitation letter from a host in Russia; it is a legal document which includes the traveller’s personal and travel information. It can only be obtained through an authorised agency or by an organisation authorised by Russian MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The type of the required invitation depends on the purpose of your visit to Russia and the type of Russian visa you will be applying for. Once the invitation is received, you can apply for a visa. Please note that a tourist visa can be issued on a single or double entry basis and can be valid for up to 30 days only.

For latest updates and details of visa application, please visit https://europe.russia.travel/?layout=evisa.

Money

Currency exchange services are available at banks and moneychangers around Moscow and major tourist places in Russia. US dollars and Euros are widely accepted at the exchange bureaus. Other currencies will undoubtedly cause more hassle than they are worth. Whatever currency you bring should be in pristine condition. Banks and exchanges do not accept old, tatty bills with rips or tears.

Credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard, are becoming more widely accepted, not only at up-market hotels, restaurants and stores. You can also use your credit card to get a cash advance at most major banks in Moscow.

ATMs linked to international networks such as Cirrus, Eurocard, MasterCard and Visa, are now common throughout Moscow. Look for signs that say bankomat (Банкомат). Using a credit or debit card, you can always obtain roubles and often US dollars.

Electricity

Russia’s electricity is 220V and 50HZ. The plugs used are the two narrow round pins Type C, and Type F, which are commonly used in Europe.

Language

The official language of Russia is Russian. It is the only official language throughout the country. Many Russians speak English, as it is often taught beginning in the third grade.

Drinking Water

Quality of tap water varies around the country, and may even be variable within cities. In old buildings tap water can be non-potable. In the big cities of European Russia, the water is clean of biological contaminants, but often suffers from the presence of heavy metals, due to outdated city plumbing.

If you can’t buy bottled water, boil water before drinking, or better yet, use a filter.

Tipping

While tipping was traditionally frowned upon in Russia, it has been emerging after the fall of communism. A customary tip in a restaurant is 10%, and should you leave more money than the exact total. If the service was particularly bad and you don’t want to leave a tip, ask for your change. Tips are expected only in the luxurious hotels. However, do tip your guides.

 
Travel Safety Advice

With evolving world situations that may occur unexpectedly due to natural disasters, pandemics/epidemics, conflicts and unrests, it is best to read up and keep tabs on news and developments at your destination country and region before the trip. Check on the country’s official website and/or your own foreign ministry website for any travel advisory or safety precautions to be taken while abroad.

As with traveling in anywhere in the world, regardless of the local crime rate, stay vigilant and take care of personal safety. Good to read up on any possible exposure in the country prior to departure.

It is a good practice to register with your respective foreign ministry if there is such a service provided to citizens, to contact you in order to make sure that you are safe and, if need be, assist you should an emergency (e.g. natural disasters, civil unrest, etc.) occur when you are overseas.

For Singaporeans, this is the link to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ eRegister:
https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/eregisterportal/common/preLoginEregisterView.action

 
Travel Insurance

It is highly recommended to purchase comprehensive travel insurance(s), upon payment of your trip, to cover adverse situations that may occur while you are overseas or even before departure. Ensure that the coverage is suitable for your destination and the activities that you are participating in. Be familiar with the terms and conditions before purchasing and travelling abroad.

 

Travel Immunization Advice 

There is no compulsory vaccine to be taken to enter Russia. You should, however, be up to date on routine vaccinations, especially vaccines against water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (examples: hepatitis, typhoid and tuberculosis) while traveling to any destination. You are encouraged to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition.

Recommended routine vaccinations for travellers in general:

Hepatitis A

Spread through consuming contaminated food and water or person to person through the faecal-oral route. Risk is higher where personal hygiene and sanitation are poor.

Hepatitis B

Spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse. Risk is higher for those at occupational risk, long stays or frequent travel, children (exposed through cuts and scratches) and individuals who may need, or request, surgical procedures abroad.

Rabies

 

Spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or lick on broken skin. Particularly dogs and related species, but also bats. Risk is higher for those going to remote areas (who may not be able to promptly access appropriate treatment in the event of a bite), long stays, those at higher risk of contact with animals and bats, and children. Even when pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.

Tetanus

 

Spread through contamination of cuts, burns and wounds with tetanus spores. Spores are found in soil worldwide. A primary series of 5 doses of tetanus vaccine is recommended for life. Boosters are usually recommended in a country or situation where the correct treatment of an injury may not be readily available.

Typhoid Fever

Spread mainly through consumption of contaminated food and drink. Risk is higher where access to adequate sanitation and safe water is limited.

Influenza

A vaccine specific for a given year to protect against the highly variable influenza virus.

For more information and professional advice on travel vaccinations, please consult your doctor or travel clinic.

For people residing in Singapore, you may visit The Travellers’ Health and Vaccination Clinic (THVC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital:

Travellers’ Health & Vaccination Clinic
Address: Level 4, Clinic 4B, Tan Tock Seng Hospital Medical Centre
Contact number: 6357 2222
Website : https://www.ttsh.com.sg/Patients-and-Visitors/Medical-Services/Travellers-Health-and-Vaccination-Clinic/Pages/default.aspx