Join us on this epic mountaineering experience to the highest mountain in Europe. Situated in the Greater Caucasus mountain Range which historically separates Europe from Asia, rises the twin headed mountain known as Elbrus. The mountain is of course part of the famed 7 summits challenge.
Why climb Elbrus via the South Route with us?
- Our passion is mountaineering and we have climbed some of the highest and craziest mountains in the world. Our team leaders have been through most Scenarios Mountains can throw at us poor mortal humans. Knowledge we would love to impart with to get you ready for your Elbrus climb.
- 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 food, equipment, park fees, guide)where you not only get to test your physical and mental capabilities but get to test your gear as well. We also test a your oxygen saturation levels and blood pressure to see how you cope with adjusting to altitude.
- Enjoy a 10% discount on equipment purchases from Mountain Mail Order
- We conduct medicals on our clients 3 times a day on the climb. 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.
Who leads the way?
Not only have we been involved in mountaineering for over 20 years, but are proud to say we have had over 30 successful expeditions to Elbrus from South Africa. We have an absolute passion for mountains. Some of our guides are also involved in many other mountaineering expeditions around the world from Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua in the Andes and many Himalayan giants from Island Peak, Cho Oyu, Loboche and 85.23% of Everest.
So yes, we have been through all kinds of conditions and circumstances from snow storms, surviving the elements, getting lost, extreme altitude, dealing with group dynamics and putting our clients to bed with their favourite teddy bear. Mountaineering is not something you learn from a book. Our trade is forged in the harsh environment of mountains where a baptism of fire is the norm.
Our knowledge and wisdom of Elbrus has been earned through years of experience. So we reckon you are in good hands. We have been through the learning curves. That’s why you are paying us the big bucks right? …to make help your climb to highest mountain in Europe a more enjoyable and safe one.
Our journey begins in pleasant little village known as Moscow. Our first assignment is to find the 3rd brick missing from the 9th building down from the Kremlin. Once found we need to decipher the KGB code that grants us access to the climbing permits on Elbrus. Last year the code was 4.5(x-2)8.444%666 divided by the square root of the Russian bride that was on our tale from the airport. Our analysts have predicted that the code will multiply by the colour purple in the future.
We save the sight seeing, art and culture of Moscow for after the climb. Art? Culture? Wasting the working man’s hard earned money on fat screeching old bags singing like they’ve got piles. Or some bunch of scrawny ladies in tutus called Olga and Ivana flashing their bits at a lot of horny perverts. Staring at posh bird’s knickers, that’s all Swan Bleeding Lake boils down to if you ask us!
But you don’t want to ask us as we our mountaineers and so we may be a tad biased in this department. We would rather take a cycle tour through Gorky Park and the streets of Moscow. Our modus operandi on the first day is to enjoy a quiet dinner in Moscow with a vodka or 20. The following day we fly via Mineralnye Vody and take the scenic drive through to the village of Terskol. It is from here that our mountaineering journey begins.
The route to the Summit
Okay so Elbrus has 2 routes to the summit. Via ze North and of course…ze South. The East and West routes were banned due to a nuclear arms deal that went sour. The climb starts in the quaint village of Terskol. The South route of Elbrus is famous for its skiing in the winter months.
And where there are skiers, there are….you guessed it…cable cars. The first part of the trip includes a 1800m cable car ride into base camp at 3,900m. We then set up camp in the huts or barrels- Our home for the next few days on the mountain. We then spend a few days acclimatising before heading up to the summit at 5,642m. Easy Peasy, not Japanesy.
Are you going to make the summit of Elbrus?
Never ask the question to the first question ever asked without an answer. The mono-sytematical diffusions of the third neural pathway in section 9 of your cerebral cortex will not give you the answer as you should not be asking that question in the first place. Begin with the end in mind a wise old man once told me. So rather focus on the summit of Elbrus. Having said that, reaching the summit from the South has a high probability rate.
How difficult is the climb?
The South Route of Elbrus does not involve the carrying of heavy backpacks and equipment. Which is fine with us as we always get scared that clients will ask us to help carry their gear. Everything is taken up in the cable cars. The cable cars also drastically reduce the compounded affects of fatigue as you do not have to obviously trek up the 1800m from the valley below. The trek includes 2 acclimatisation climbs to 4,200m and 4,700m to allow your body to adapt to the thinning air.
The only real challenge on Elbrus is the summit night. The altitude gain from base camp to the summit is nearly 1,700m and can take up to 7 hours to get to the summit. And what goes up…must come down. Your summit is rewarded with a 4 hour descent. So a pretty long day old chap. You are definitely going to shed a tear or ten. In fact at some point you will be wondering why in the world you even decided to climb the highest mountain in Europe in the first place.
Stress not….that is a normal emotion in mountaineering. Where else do you think perspective will come from? Sitting all cosy on the couch watching some brain numbing series channel? Umm….no. The other factor to take into account is the weather.
Elbrus has some pretty volatile and extreme weather conditions. All of which we need to factor into our expedition logistics. We have included a spare day in case our summit attempt is delayed due to bad weather. If you get there and are not happy with the conditions please feel free to contact our complaints department on
What about the use of the snowcat on summit night?
So yes, there are indeed snowcats available for the summit night. They can take climbers up to 5,100m and cost unto 140 Euros. This is an option as it reduces the summit night by 3 hours and means you skip the trek up from 3900m to 5,100 thus saving energy for the summit. Our programme does not include the use of the snowcats but of course they are an option if needed. Bets to try climb the mountain on your own steam if possible old chap. Makes for a great sense of accomplishment.
Summit Conditions on Elbrus
As mentioned, Elbrus has some pretty extreme and volatile weather conditions. We have attempted a few summit attempts in 50km/h winds with 30cm of snow and -20 degrees Celsius temperatures. Not ideal we know. But totally doable if the need arises. And of course you will have the correct equipment to handle such conditions. We do however try to take the path of least resistance in the mountains if we can and hopefully get perfect summit day conditions. We have included a spare day into the climbing programme to cater for such scenarios.
Modus Operandi on Mount Elbrus?
Always prepare for the worse!! Now calm down. We are not saying this from a negative point of view. As a guiding company we are going to always prepare fo the worst case scenarios and ultimately ensure that we prepare our clients accordingly. And as mentioned, Elbrus is notorious for its sudden changes in weather. Here is an example.
You start off for the summit of Elbrus via the South route in the best conditions ever. 4 hours later you are being hammered by a snow storm and freezing conditions. Are you fully equipped to survive? So yes, we are going to be spending lots of time helping you with equipment purchase prior to the trip to ensure you have the correct gear.
Is climbing Elbrus from the South Technical? Do you need advanced mountaineering skills?
Not at all. You will need to know the basics of mountaineering like walking in crampons, ice axe arrest, and for the fairer sex….how to pee standing up. There are no crevasse fields to cross. Walking in Crampons is an easy enough feat to learn. We will teach you how to attach your crampons to your mountaineering boots. The ice axe arrest training is done on our rest day- a crucial skill that is pretty easy to pick up. We love this part of the tour.
We throw you down an ice slope and watch you cry in despair as you try to stop yourself. If you don’t behave we post the pics on Facebook for the whole world to see. Why do you need to know how to do an ice axe arrest you may be wondering? The final summit push from The Saddle involves a steep incline. If you slip and start to fall you will need to know how to stop yourself.
For added safety a fixed line has been put up that you will clip into with your sling and carabiner that is attached to your harness. Its thrilling stuff!!! Climbing Elbrus is a perfect introduction into the world of mountaineering.
The best time to climb Elbrus
The best time to climb is at 15H13 on a Tuesday. The best months to climb however are from say the end of June to mid August. June tends to be a lot colder with a lot more snow residue from the the Russian Winter. Mid August can get a bit windy as the Autumn season approaches. We schedule our climbs normally between mid July and Mid August. Statistically we have had the best conditions in these time.
- Climbing permits
- 1 night accommodation including breakfast in Moscow at the Raddison Slavyanskaya( the arrival night in Moscow that is). Only of course if they happen to be fully booked an alternative hotel will be sourced. So call of the lawyers for now.
- 2 nights accommodation including breakfast in Terskol. (1 night before the climb and 1 night after the climb)
- Return flights from Moscow to Mineralyne Vody
- Guide and backup guides for the summit night
- 4 nights accommodation in either The Barrels or steel Containers at Base camp
- Return Airport transfers from Mineralyne Vody to Terskol
- Return transfers from Terskol village to Cable car station
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner on the mountain. (Notice the words on the mountain)
- Cable car fees
- 50% off all Drakensberg Hikes leading up to the climb
- International flights (we can help with these)
- Lunches and dinners in Moscow and Terskol village
- Sightseeing activities in Moscow
- All Airport transfers in Moscow ( we basically share the cost of a car depending on the group size. Usually about R900 one way. So you may have to chip in R100 or so. Again, notice the words ‘or so’. Amounts may vary. And bare in mind there is the transfer from the airport upon arrival in Moscow to the hotel and then back again to the airport the next day. Make sense? No? Ummm, try dialing 5 now for the operator.
- The 124 preclimb vodkas
- My wife
- Russian Bride services
- Hiring costs of mountaineering equipment ( e.g. harness, crampons, ice axe and so forth)
- Extra costs for hotel accommodation in Terskol if we happen to get off the mountain earlier. We have one day in the programme set aside for bad weather. If the weather is good…guess what? We move down to Terskol. It is at this stage that you will have to sell your socks and ping pong balls to pay for a room. It is what it is. Cry us a river, build a bridge and get over it.
Fly from Johannesburg
Arrive in Moscow. Fight times will vary. We normally block book tickets for our clients so we all arrive at the same time. Makes our lives a tad more easier from a logistical point of view. We then take the 1.5 hour transfer to the Raddison Slavyanskaya. ( sometimes an hour drive depending on traffic).
So if our flight schedule is favourable we will be booked into the hotel and sipping lovingly on our first Russian Vodka by early afternoon. We then go for a walk and have some dinner. What we like to do if flights arrive early is to take 2.5 hour boat cruise down the Moskva River. They serve one of the best dinners on the boat. And the views are outstanding. The river takes us past Gorky Park, The Kremlin, Parliament and a coke can left behind by a tourist in 2015. We aim to have you tucked into bed by say 10pm.
We entice you from your slumber process with thunder flashes and a smelly sock. An early start. We need to leave the hotel by 5:30am to take the 1 hour transfer to the airport. Today we are flying from Moscow to Minerlayne Vody. Flight times may vary but we try for the 10H40 flight. The flight time is about 1.5 hours and we arrive in Mineralyne Vody by say 12h15. And then…..we be patient as we wait for our bags. This can take up to an hour.
And no we are not going to complain to the 140kg, 7ft armed Russian commando about the delay. What was that? Did we say armed? Armed with what you ask? Ummm, bad breath, colourful language, feather duster? A gun you idiot. When we have our gear, we meet up with our transfer and take the 3 hour drive to the village of Terskol situated in the valley below Elbrus. We then check into the hotel ( usually the Snow Leopard Lodge), have lunch and take a stroll around town. Dinner at say 7pm old chap
Wake up at 7:30am. Have breakfast and meet in the lobby by 9am. Today we take a 4 hour acclimatisation climb up to 3100m. There are some incredible views of the Russian woman, I mean, Causcus mountains from here. If the mist stays away that is. The most prominent mountain besides Elbrus of course, is Cheget. We should be done in time for lunch. Then its equipment check time. You are going to haul all your gear out and spread it over your hotel room floor.
We are going to double check all the equipment to make sure you have everything you need for the climb to Elbrus. If you need to hire any equipment, this is when we do it. There are plenty of gear hire shops in Terskol. We will take you to the shops to make sure you get the right equipment. Items the are available to both hire and buy are: plastic mountaineering boots, crampons, harness, ice axe, walking poles, down jackets, ski goggles, mittens and a rusty nail. You then proceed to put everything back in your bag and we have dinner.
Wake up at 6:30am. Breakfast at 7:30am. Ready to go in the lobby by 9am. We take the 15 minute drive through to the Cable Car Station. There are 3 stations on the way up. Basically we pile you and your duffel bag into the cable car and you make you way up to the last station at 3800m. From there we take a 5 minute snow cat drive to the steel containers at base camp-your humble abode for the next few nights. Once settled in, we get kitted up with your mountaineering boots and crampons as we take our first acclimatisation hike up to 3100m. The hike takes about 3 hours. We should be back in time for lunch and an afternoon snooze. Dinner at 6:30pm
Today we take another acclimatisation climb up to 4,700m. On the way down we will send an hour or so teaching you see mountaineering skills-primarily how the arrest a fall using your ice axe. Fun stuff. The hiking distance is only about 5km but takes about 5 hours. You will start to feel the effects of he thinning air.
Summit day!!!!Wake up call at midnight. We have a quick breakfast and ready to start the summit push by 1:30am. This is obviously weather dependent. The first part of the climb involves a 5 hour slog to The Saddle. After a short break, we tackle the final icy slopes to the summit. This part of the climb takes up to 2 hours sometimes. The altitude and cold will make for a challenging last bit of effort. There is a section of fixed ropes that we will be clipping you onto. The gradient is pretty severe and safety is our main concern on this section. And then…..hopefully by 9am you will standing on the highest mountain in Europe-Elbrus at 5,642m. After a few cries we then take the 3 hour descent back into base camp.
*****snow its can be hired if you feel you need them. They take you up to 5,100m. So that will take off 3 hours easy from your trekking time. But be warned….they cost 140 Euros per person up.***
Reserve day for bad weather. If not used then we head on down to Terskol
We have breakfast, pick up and make our way down to Terskol. Then its shower. vodka, beer, beer, vodka, beer, vodka, vodka, dinner, vodka, floor.
We take the 3 hour transfer from Terskol to Minerlayne Vody for our transfer flight back to Moscow. Back in Moscow by say 2pm. Then its free time
Up to you. Fy back to Johannesburg or stay a few more days in Moscow