When is the best time to climb Elbrus?
All mountains of the world have a definitive climbing season. Mount Elbrus is no different. The seasons are determined basically by their location and weather patterns.
WINTER VS SUMMER CLIMBING?
Alrighty then. If you have a screw lose and would like to try climb Elbrus in the Russian winter then please feel free to NOT give us a call. In fact, most of the summit attempts of big ass mountains are done in the spring or summer months. And now why would that be? Well, the weather is generally warmer and conditions are less volatile with fewer snowstorms and alien invasions. And of course, these seasons are different depending on the hemisphere.
Northern hemisphere countries have their spring/summer months from say Mid June to the end of September. The southern Hemisphere have their spring/summer months from say November to April. Having snow in winter is perfect for summer climbing. The snow compacts resulting in nice hard icy terrain. This is perfect for walking in with the use of crampons. And is less tiring than trudging your way through waist deep snow. It is also easier to spot crevasses when there is less snow on the slopes.
Elbrus is of course situated in the Northern hemisphere in the Caucasus mountain range. Or the more technical types out there, you can find Elbrus at these coordinates:43.3499° N, 42.4453° E. Ask for Ivan Torrabollockoff when you get the base camp. He has the secret climbing code that allows you access to the slopes. We also have it. It is…sorry. Just got a cramp in my finger and cannot seem to type it in. Sorry for that. Maybe best to just join us on an expedition and we will just tell you.
DETERMINING THE BEST WINDOW PERIOD TO CLIMB?
Okay, so time for a basic introduction into weather. Winter months are pretty hectic in the mountains. The winter months bring with them a crap load of snow, freezing conditions and shorter days. The spring and early summer months have been proven to be the bets time to climb most mountains of the world. The weather conditions in spring and early summer are generally pretty predictable and stable. Usually the snow has compacted and frozen into ice.
This makes for good and easier climbing. Climbing in thick snow is very challenging and tiring. We have had a few expeditions to Elbrus in June where we had to summit in thick snow up to our waists. The result was a frikken long and exhausting day. It took us 12 hours to reach the summit and another 5 hours to get back down to high camp. The descent became a mental challenge.
We had already been going for 12 hours in -20 degrees Celsius with the effects of the thinning air taking a toll on our fatigue levels. Every step on the way down resulted in us sinking waist deep into the snow. We then had to pull our foot out of the snow which seemed to be vacuumed packed into the snow and take another step down into the same scenario. For over 5 hours!!! Without our mommies there to give us a hug and box of sympathy.
WHAT WE CONSIDER THE BEST TIME TO CLIMB ELBRUS FROM OUR EXPERIENCE
We have been involved in climbing expeditions to Elbrus for over 15 years. We have climbed in different times and have kind of developed our preferred time to go. Beginning of August to mid September.
KEY FACTORS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
So we have decided that the best time to climb Elbrus is from say the beginning of August to mid September. But guess what that means??? People wanting to climb big ass mountains generally do their research. So the amount of climbers on the Elbrus will be higher in these ideal climbing months. There will also the a lot of local Russian trying to climb which will add to the traffic. An alternative would be to climb in late September when there is very little people on Elbrus, but the weather is pretty volatile and a summit cannot always be guaranteed.
THE PERCENTAGE OF CLIMBERS THAT ARE RUSSIAN?
As you may have deduced, Elbrus is situated in Russia. This means that the majority of climbers will be from Russia. In fact, 75% of people who climb Elbrus each year are Russian. It is estimated that about 10,000 attempt to reach the summit every year. And why is this fact important for us as a guiding company? Well the first thing we need to determine is when those 7,500 Russian climbers decide to visit Elbrus. Our expeditions are planned based on the Russian holidays.
Basically we find out when the Russkies take their holidays and plan a trip outside of those dates. See how kleva we are? If our basic nursery school maths is anything to go by, we can already calculate the probability of finding less climbers in certain months as determined by a simple variable like holidays. There are quite a few holidays in mid September in Russia. Although an awesome time to climb due to excellent weather conditions, it can be quite busy.
We like to organise our expeditions starting from say 15 August. It is also a good way to avoid the armed patrols. Armed? Did you say armed? Armed with what? Ummm. Bad breath, colourful language, feather duster..what do you think they will be armed with? Guns you moron. Best thing to do is just stay as calm as a coma and order an Aristotle of the most ping pong tiddly in the nuclear sub and switched back to your climbing.
ENOUGH BLAH BLAH BLAH AND TELL US THE BEST MONTHS TO CLIMB ELBRUS!!
All right. Keep your Allans on. Let’s condense all the above information and get straight to the point shall we?When is the best time to climb Elbrus? It has been decided that 13H23 on a Wednesday is a good time. Okay. Calm down. That’s childish and would like to retract that previous statement. The best time is in fact from 5 August to 20 September. There is generally less snow and the chances of warmer conditions and blue skies are way higher than other dates.
However….even though the statistics say the chances of good weather is best in these months, we still follow a principle of preparing for the worst case scenario. Getting stuck in a creek snowstorm at 5,500m can be life threatening. As a guiding company, we are going to spend time with you to make sure you have the correct equipment like down jackets, gloves, climbing boots and so forth to be able to handle freezing conditions.
WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
Not sure. What is the question? Sometimes it is difficult determine if a question has been answered. A clear cut proof of theorem should leave you with a thought that the answer has been found. But when an explicit answer is given it may require more evidence to evaluate that answer and then examine all the possible answers directly from the formulation of the original question.
Maybe dial 5 now and ask for Dave. We are just humble mountaineers. What we do know is when not to climb Elbrus if that helps. Do not climb between November and the end of May. You will lose a nut and a few toes. Russian winters are crazy cold.
WHAT TEMPERATURES TO EXPECT FROM AUGUST TO MID SEPTEMBER?
Although the weather conditions on most of the worlds mountains are losing their ‘predictability’ due to global warming and alien mining projects, we can kind of determine the average temperatures based on previous experience. The summit night temperatures average to out at about -15 degrees Celsius. High wind would also play a part in making for even colder conditions.
We sometimes hit -25 with the wind chill factored in. Sometimes we may decide to delay the summit push if there are high winds ( in excess of say 70 km/h) or intense snow fall. You have to remember that we are dealing with mountains and they have their own set of rules. Elbrus is no exception. We just have to roll with the punches. Ultimately, it is the mountain who has the last say on when the best time to climb is.
MOSCOW IN SUMMER
So what is a climbing expedition to Elbrus without a visit to Moscow? It is indeed a necessary requirement. Nothing better than rewarding yourself for a successful summit on the highest mountain in Europe with a few days in Moscow. The city comes alive in the summer months. We usually spend about 3 days after the climb here. We hire bicycles and take a ride around Gorky Park and the city centre. The weather is warm and clear. We have lunch on the banks of the Moskva River sipping an ice cold beer and washing it down with a Russian vodka or 20.
Moscow is pretty depressing in the winter months. Having just come back form a climb, you can show off your bulging calf muscles and stylish ski goggle tan in the local museums that are packed with beautiful Russian woman who are suckers for mountain men. Shew. Marketing strategy 4.2: version 3 done and dusted-Entice men to book a tour by divulging our bespoke turnkey climbing solution that will subliminally influence their decision to come climb using the words ‘beautiful’ and ‘Russian woman’ in one sentence.