Join our guided climbing expeditions to the highest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus via the North Route. A 5,642m summit situated in the Caucasus mountain range in Russia
If you are looking at experiencing Mother Russia from both an adventure, mountaineering and cultural point of view, then climbing Elbrus is the perfect choice. One of the best things about the Elbrus climb that you get to climb the highest mountain in Europe- That’s right sports fans. The highest. And by highest we don’t mean the chemically induced high that you may or may not be thinking about. By the highest mountain in Europe, we mean 5642m above sea level.
Many mountaineers still believe that Mont Blanc is the highest as they have this notion that Russia is not part of Europe. But of course, it most definitely is. Climbing Elbrus is not just about the mountain, it is also about the beautiful Russian architecture and art found in the previously protected St Petersburg and Moscow. Can you graffiti your name on the Kremlin wall? I’m afraid not. Only the climbing rope can be a frayed knot.
The entire mountain of Elbrus is covered by an immense sheet of ice that is 145 square kilometres big and in some places, reaches a thickness of 400m.
From the col that divides the two peaks, the white slopes of Mount Elbrus descend gently splitting up into tongues of ice and crevasses. Mount Elbrus (5642m) dominates the countryside of the central Caucasus like a two-headed icy giant. Mount Elbrus has two peaks. And by that, we don’t mean one peak you climb and the other involves a peak at the beautiful Russian women. The peaks of Mount Elbrus are known as the western peak or Zapadnaya (5642m) which is officially the highest peak and therefore the highest spot in Europe. What makes this summit awesome is the gigantic crater 250m in diameter. The peak is often referred to as the ‘Little Antartica’. The eastern peak or Vostochnaya at an altitude of 5621m is a mere 21m lower than the true summit. So yes sports fans, you don’t want to get your directions wrong and land up on the wrong peak.
“At the threshold of the Old Continents doors to heaven, at 5642m above sea level, we embraced each other and took photos to immortalize the moment”
Secret code for climbing Elbrus
The worst thing when you climb Elbrus is the KGB. When we leave South Africa, we apply for a secret code from our Russian agent known as Ivan Torabollockoff. He then ensures that we meet with our undercover agent at the base of Elbrus at exactly 16H04 in the third tent down on the left. The Elbrus climbing code is 564778. But you can only use this code if you climb Elbrus with Soul Adventures.
Why climb Elbrus from the North Route?
I am a bit of a purist when it comes to climbing mountains. I believe you need to earn that summit through sheer determination and perseverance. Mountains must break the human spirit. And by that, I mean it must break us in such a way that we are able to build ourselves up again to become stronger, wiser and come away with an incredible sense of perspective that only mountains can give us. Or not. Either way, the lessons are invaluable. Or maybe you are looking at becoming the first half Scottish, half Japanese person with a limp to stand on the highest mountain in Europe-corporate companies and the media would love to be a part of that incredible story. Right…. now that we’ve got the philosophy out of the way let’s look at the North Route of Elbrus from a different perspective.
Here are the advantages of climbing from the North:
- No cable cars to take you up the mountain which is the case on the South Route.
- Because the route is a tad more challenging and longer than the South Route there are less climbers on the route. There has been many expeditions where we have had the whole summit to ourselves.
- The North route is way more remote. The drive into base camp can only be done in 4×4’s-Big ‘kick-ass’ Russian 4×4’s that is. These are beasts of vehicles that are designed for the mountains.
- The climb is self-sufficient. This means you carry your own gear. “Now how can that be an advantage the man at the back cries out?” Well sireee…..it not only makes you stronger for the summit day but also means you are climbing the mountain in true purist fashion.
- The upper part of the mountain includes roping up alpine style and dodging the many crevasses that can be found up to the Saddle. How cool is that? A bit of adventure. This also means that we are going to be teaching you some mountaineering skills on the rest days. These include how to use an ice axe, crampons and walking alpine style with your climbing partners. We are also going to teach you how to ‘self-arrest’ on the ice-a vital part of the training as we kind of don’t want you to disappear off the mountain if you feel the desire to slip.
- We have a ‘Base camp” mom who keeps us fed on the mountain. She also follows us up to high camp to ensure our bellies are full of her delicious meals.
- You will lose 45,8774 brain cells so you won’t come back as clever as you were when you left. This will be a benefit to your career as your boss won’t feel so threatened by your superior intelligence. I have been much non kelverer from when I climbed up wiv da man who give me money to guide the mountain and the toaster is not going to buy the pie. See!!!! It works.Use these exact words on your boss.
A client’s perspective on their Elbrus climb
Climbing Mount Elbrus, the highest peak of Europe, 1 of the 7 summits, was inspired! We decided to separate the easy from the hard and embarked on the North Route to summit the twin peak mount Elbrus. With our eye on the prize– we wanted to climb the mountain the proper way! The way this mountain should be approached…by foot, so that all the beauty, majesty of the vistas and terrain can be enjoyed and experienced. No porters, no teleski, no snow cats, just our well trained bodies and strong minds. It was an 8-day expedition, which was to separate the toughest from the tough!
It was not easy, but in hindsight I would go back tomorrow and I’ll have to, as I didn’t reach the summit. The elements were harsh as one would expect from a snow covered high altitude peak, but safety and our well being was always a priority for Soul Adventures. Being in Russia/Elbrus was an awesome adventure, being there alongside Darren and Jonathan was unforgettable. We also submerged ourselves into learning about the Russian culture as much as what we dived into a bottle of smooth tasting vodka. I highly recommend this trip to anyone who is serious about being in the mountains and for those who are prepared to have experiences, which will change your life.
About the expedition
Our expedition starts off in the bustling city of Moscow where we spend a quiet night reading a book on how to influence a Russian bride into coming home with you part 3. And of course there will be a few vodkas over dinner to help sooth any nasty coughs you may have picked upon the flight in. We then fly into the town of Mineralnye Vody which means ‘mineral waters’. We meet up with Andrey and the rest of our mountain guide team.
The guides are easy to spot upon arrival in the small airport. Big mountain man beards, blue shaded ’check me- check you back’ sunglasses and a pocket sized nuclear weapon. We then make our way to a town called Kislodvosk where we overnight. This is the last point of civilisation. So, guess what? We are going to make you unpack your whole climbing bag and lay everything out on the hotel floor. We then tick all your equipment off against a list to ensure you have everything. And that includes your Russian bride that you bought on special in Moscow.
Now why would we want you to unpack your whole bag I wonder? Oh yes…. you live life forwards and only understand it backwards. Or more literally…You forget that ‘high altitude glove that will give you frost bite if you don’t have it’ forwards and understand its best to check carefully to make sure it’s packed backwards. So sorry for you. We are going to check. After Dinner in a quaint traditional Russian restaurant we tuck you into bed with the mail order bride and say Sir Lancelot…I mean Good Knight.
The next day we take the 5-hour drive into base camp. The fist part of the climb will involve a few days of acclimatisation. This will include carrying our high-altitude gear (ice axe, crampons, down jackets etc) up to the high camp. Once we have settled down at the high camp we will continue our acclimatisation to a spot on the mountain called Lenz Rocks at 4,600m We also use this spot for an advanced high camp if the weather permits.
On the rest days we will teach you mountaineering skills to ensure you are ready for the summit attempt. The summit is going to be a serious challenge. We are not going to beat around the proverbial snow bush on this. Its going to be cold and long. (The mountain too) We usually leave high camp at midnight and return by 7pm. So yes…a long day on Elbrus I’m afraid. But well worth the effort in the long run. You can’t get a massive sense of accomplishment if it only took 5 hours now hey?
Best time to climb Elbrus from the North Route
The best time to climb Elbrus is at 13H47 on a Tuesday. But you will need to start the climb by thinking of 2 thoughts at exactly the same time. The one throught must be about the summit of Elbrus and the secod thought must be about the size of a bus drivers shoe. Then infuse the two thoughts into one. Speed the thought up by 14 and look into the toaster. This should give you an answer of June to September. If this doesn’t make sense to you, try calling our Elbrus climbing expert to help you through the process.
The best months for to climb Elbrus are, Mid-June to Mid September. That is it!! These are the summer months in Russia and therefore afford the best climbing conditions from a weather point of view. If you are mad enough to try and climb Elbrus in the Russian Winter please contact our customer care on this address : 你疯了吗@wing-wing-halo.com
√√ The best time to climb
√ A good time to climb
X Not a good time to climb
? Good time to go. But it is not the best time of year to go
What makes an Elbrus Climb so incredible?
- You will get to experience the unique and fascinating culture of Russia.
- Spend time in Moscow. I promise you it feels like you are part of a James Bond movie. We spend time at some of the great icons of Mother Russia from the Kremlin, Red Square, Blue Triangle, Moskva River and The Russian Bride Museum. We may even allow agent Torrabollockoff to grant you access into room 14 in the secret file building situated in a location only known by a man with a red ping pong ball.
- The North route of Elbrus offers a more purist form of mountaineering. This also means that the climb is more challenging than the South Route. This also means that is reduces the amount of limbers on the mountain. There has been many a year when we have had the whole mountain to ourselves.
- You will get to summit the Highest Mountain in Europe and the 5th highest on the ‘7 Summits’ challenge.
- Getting slapped on your naked bum with a birch leaf in the Russian Banya. (Sauna for us non Russian type folk). This is a customary thing with Russian climbers after completing the climb. Not only will you be in danger of developing a sweat, but you are going to get your ass whipped with a birch leafto stimulate circulation. Once we reach boiling point we run out and jump into the freezing glacial river. We continue with this process for about an hour. But fear not……there is plenty of Russian Vodka and beer to keep you hydrated.
How hard is it to climb Elbrus from the North Route?
Let me start off by saying this…..DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE ELBRUS. Even though the mountain is 240m odd lower than Kilimanjaro it will not feel like it. The atmospheric pressures are way different. Kilimanjaro is situated on the equator and Elbrus is closer tot the Arctic circle. So the 5642m is going to feel like 6100m.
The other challenge is the hidden crevasse field that we need to get through. We are going to be roped up alpine style for these sections. Andrey, our Russina guide has been up Elbrus over 100 times and knows the mountain intimately. He will ensure safe passage to the summit.
You need to remember that 70& of the climb is on ice with crampons. There can also be snow. Hiking in snow can be extremely draining on your energy levels, especially if there has been a heavy snowfall. You will be wading up to your hips in snow. And I’m sure you van imahone how challenging that can be. Pulling you crampon clad boot out of the vacuum packed snow and sinking into your next step will test not only your patience but your fitness levels. And remember….this is all done at altitude as well. Something that would be easy at sea level is 15.45 times harder at 5000m. *Note. The aforementioned statistitics are just a thumbsuck so call off the lawyers and the pendantic over analysis.
And lets us also say that the North route is way harder than the South. There are no ski lifts to help you. So there is a lot more hiking and carrying of equipment. This also means that the expedition takes 3 days longer.
There are also many other factors to take into consideration before signing up for the climb: How your body adapts to altitude, physical and mental conditioning, mountaineering skills like abseiling, climbing knots and walking with crampons and an ice axe, dealing with the cold and possible adverse weather conditions.
Now that we have scared you…..is that not what mountaineering is all about!!! Standing at the base of a mountain, acknowledging your anxiety and on your terms, not fear…. Take that first step up. The sense of accomplishment and incredible perspective that mountains will bring you is something you will treasure forever.
How we help you prepare for the climb?
The biggest factor holding people back is that they feel they do not have the mountaineering skills to climb Elbrus. This is where we come in. We will teach you the skills to make the climb. Yes, we do not have snow to train on, but we improvise. We will teach you how to tie knots, abseil, cross ladders with crampons and use and ice axe. We will also spend a lot of time with you training to get you mountaineering fit. In the months leading up to the climb we will inflict pain and suffering on you that include hikes in the Drakensberg as well as other functional training regimes that may induce a vomit or two. All part of the process I’m afraid. “Rather bleed on the training field than the battle field”.
Why climb with Soul Adventures?
- Our passion is mountaineering, and we have climbed some of the highest and craziest mountains in the world. We have been through it all. Blizzards, avalanches, freezing cold, storms, high altitude rescues and Johannesburg traffic. So we are going to spend time with you teaching you as much as we can.
- We walk the path with all our clients in terms of training and preparation. We offer free mountaineering training sessions on the weekends and assist with equipment purchases.
- You have 24/7 access to our support team.
- Access to our lectures on surviving at altitude ( we cover aspects of Acute mountain sickness, equipment, nutrition and training for the mountains)
- We offer a 50% discount on our Drakensberg training hikes to all clients (includes transport from JHB, food, equipment, park fees, guide)where you not only get to test your physical and mental capabilities bit get to test your gear as well. We also test your oxygen saturation levels and blood pressure to see how you cope with adjusting to altitude.
- Enjoy a 10% discount on equipment purchases
- We conduct medicals on our clients 3 times a day on Elbrus. Over the years we have compiled benchmarks of where climbers should be medically at the various altitudes. A vital part of predicting any altitude related problems higher up.
Return International Flights from Johanneburg
Return flights from Moscow to Mineralyne Vody
1 nights accomodation in Moscow ( first night)
Return transfers from Mineralyne Vody to Kislodvosk
2 nights’ accommodation in Kislodvosk in a 3 star travellers lodge ( sharing). Its not the Hiltons so please bare with us.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner on the climb ( notice the words ‘on the climb’)
Tented accommodation the Base camp of Elbrus
Hut accomodation at High Camp
Dry one liners to motivate you up the mountain. We only allow 3 jokes per hour. Extra jokes cost extra
All government taxes
Our loving and kind motivational speeches to get your ass up the mountain
Does it come with a free ice axe? It comes with a gold plated one. If you pay for it. What do you do when you don’t climb mountains? Finance revolutions? Tighter than a duck’s butt, you are. Now, come on, let us feel the fibre of your fabric and stop haggling over the ice axe.
Dinners and lunches while in Kislodvosk. ( breakfast in the hotel is included)
Dinners and lunches in Moscow
Airport transfers in Moscow. ( we all chip in for a taxi)
Your travel insurance (should include your medical and helicopter rescue)
Climbing equipment ( harness, ice axe, crampons, boots etc)
Any personal expenses like shower and battery charges in the mountain
Advice on the stock exchange fluctuations and how they will effect the global economy
Any extra night’s accommodation in Kislodvosk or Moscow if we get down early. (we have included extra days in case of bad weather. If all goes according to plan, then we will be back down early. So maybe keep a few dollars spare in case)
Any abuse about how horrible we are for not telling you about the difficulty of the climb. This usually starts at about 5,167m at 3:45 am on the summit night. And of course, we would have told you how difficult it CAN be if you have met with us.. but you would have forgotten by then. Poor us.
Staff tipping. Looking left and right before crossing the road doesn’t count.
Shed a tear or two as you say goodbye to your mommy. As calm a a coma we board the plane and the journey begins. We usually fly to Dubai. Well we don’t really fly, the pilot does. We just drink beer and harass the toasters in aisle 4.
Arrive in Moscow. We then avoid the vodka induced coma for the time being and make our way to the hotel. We then check in, have a shower and go for dinner. We will chain everyone up to each other to avoid any stragglers who may stray into the loving arms of a Russian bride.
We send 4 ninjas and a wild red ant with drums and pots into your rooms at 5am to slowly entice you for your slumber. We fly from Moscow to Minerlayne Vody. We aim to be on the 10am flight arriving by 12H30. We will be met at the small airport by Andrey, our Russian guide for the duration of the expedition. We than pile our climbing gear on the bus and take the 2.5 hour drive through to the town of Kislodvosk.
We spend the rest of the day checking your equipment.Thats right sportsfans…we don’t trust our clients as far as wec an throw thm when it comes to equipment. You will be expected to lay everything out on the hotel room floor. A kit inspection is then done by us with the help of an armed Spatnazts commando to ensure cooperation in the process. Now why would we do that? Because this is the last town to get equipment. If you have misplaced, lost or need to hire climbing equipment like crampons, ice axe and ‘anti exploding eye’ devices this is when we do it.
There are zero facilities at base camp. Doo yew Underrrrrrtsund? Dinner will be in a traditional Russian restaurant and don’t even think about disappearing when the bill comes. This one is on you. We will then apply with the authorities for an official bed time. We usually get assigned with 22h13.
Agenda for the day. Wake up obviously. Stuff your pie hole with a good heary Russian breakfast. We then take the 3.5 hour drive through the Emmanuel Meadow base camp at 2500m. We get set up in the tents and then go for a 2 hour trek around the valley.
Cock a doodle do. Or don’t. But we prefer if you do .We take an acclimitization climb up to the high camp at 3,800m. We also use this hike to take a load of climbing equipment up. We then hike back down again
Today we hike back up again to high camp with the rest of our equipment. But this time we staty there. We will sleep in the huts.
The impact of bisymmetrical diversions on the molecular gene pool has resulted in a monosytemattical integration of one ping pong ball into another causing a dust storm in Spain. If this make sense to you, we allow you to carry on with the trek. If it doesn’t, we do a full medical evaluation on you before granting access to the path.
Today we climb up to Lenz Rocks at 4600m. This is part of the acclimitisation process and we will also spend some time here teaching you some vital mountaineering skills-most important of all will be the self arrest with an ice axe. We return back to high camp
Reserve day in case of bad weather.
We return back to Kislodvosk, have a shower, vodka, vodka, vodka, vodka, vodka, vomit, vodka, dinner,sleep
Today we wake up early and take the drive back to Mineralyne Vody for our connecting flight to Moscow. We aim to be in Moscow by 14H00. Overnight in Moscow
Fly back to Johannesburg. Obviosuly if you feel like soending more time in Moscow you just need to let su know and we can extend your return flight.
Arrive back in Johannesburg.