Mount Elbrus

(18,510ft/5,642m), Russia

Alpine Ascents Elbrus Frequently Asked Questions

Upon sign up we will forward our famed, comprehensive confirmation package. This package will include all of the details for your trip.

What is the skill level of this climb?
Climbers should have successfully completed our 6-Day Training course, 8-Day, 12-Day, 13-Day or have equivalent skills and experience. Those who had a strong performance on a 3-Day Baker or Rainier climb may also join. They must have basic knowledge of progression on snow and ice, self arrest, crevasse rescue and glacier travel. Snow and ice slopes to be dealt with are moderate (up to 45 degrees). During the expedition we will spend three days on the Cayambe glacier reviewing skills. The requirements are also based on our desire to have similarly skilled team members.

What is the physical conditioning level needed for this climb?
Very good to excellent physical condition. We spend a fair amount of time acclitimizing in the build-up to summit day which typically is 12 hours or more of climbing.

Any tips on how a climber can maximize their chances of success?
Along with the required crampon skills, review cardio training on the training page. This climb generally boasts 100% success.

Who is the guiding team composed of (How many guides? Climber to guide ratio?)
Different from most outfits, we send one of our leading guides from the United States as expedition leader. On summit day (and sometimes earlier) we hire numerous English speaking, highly skilled Russian guides which keeps our summit day climber-to-guide ratios low.

What is the best season to climb / which dates will have the most chance for success?
July and August are the best times to climb Mt. Elbrus.

How many climbers are on this expedition?
Generally, our maximum for this climb is 12 climbers plus guides.

Will I be sharing a tent or lodging with other climbers?
Lodging for this expedition is in hotels, lodges or hut structures while on the mountain. You will share rooms on this expedition but you can pay a higher fee for single rooms in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

How much will my pack weigh?
On summit day, climbers carry approximately 25-30 pounds but we suggest you train with 40 pounds in your pack.

What gear will I need?
Please review the gear list.

How does your gear rental system work?
Those requesting rental gear must submit an expedition rental form with payment by fax or mail. All rental gear will be mailed to the climber prior to the climb. Climbers are expected to clean all rental gear and return it to us by mail following the expedition.

Any further advice on gear and using your gear list?
While all items are required there may be times when some of the items on the gear list may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The gear lists are created by the guides to assist in having climbers be prepared to summit in any conditions.

While it is impossible for us to list all brands for certain gear, we do offer a wide variety of equipment in our Gear Shop, that has been hand-picked by our staff of mountaineering experts. Please feel free to call our offices with any gear questions or substitutes. Plastic boots are required for this climb.

How is drinking water treated?
We purchase bottled water prior to camps on the mountain. Once on the mountain, our drinking water is boiled.

What will the meals on the expedition be like?
We eat in restaurants prior to camps on the mountain. On the mountain we have a Russian cook with meals consisting of pasta, soups and stews. (We are not serving packaged or dehydrated food). We supplement local food with food from the US.

Can I bring some food from home?
You may bring power bars, Gu, or similar high energy foods. All meals will be provided on this climb.

Are there any innoculation requirements?
No requirements at this time

What is the best air route to my destination?
Most routes are via Europe and thus there are many travel options. Most climbers arrive on Lufthansa or Air France flights. Climbers are required to arrive between 1:00pm – 3:00pm or incur an additional airport pick up fee.

When should I book my flight? Do I need to use your Travel Agent?
Fares are generally less expensive when booked early. You may use our Travel Agent (Charles Mulvehill 1-800-727-2157) or book flights yourself. Please note that flights booked online are often difficult to change. Please send us a copy of your flight schedule as early as possible as this allows us to book pick ups and hotels (which are often overbooked in Russia).

What time should I arrive and leave and where do I meet the guides?
Your guide or an Alpine Ascents representative will meet you at the airport. Look for a large Alpine Ascents sign.

What if I arrive early or depart late? Can you arrange extra night lodging? Is there a single room option for this expedition?

We are happy to make arrangements such as personalized tours, extra hotels rooms, airport pick ups and arrange for private rooms. Please indicate that you would like a private room on your application and we will contact you with information on single room supplement costs (for hotels only).

Are there any entry or Visa requirements?
Yes, the visa process for Russia hearkens back to a time where bureaucracy reigned as king. Upon receipt of your application or deposit, we will send detailed instruction on obtaining a visa.

Is there any communication while we are on the mountain?
In the cities and in hotels telephones are readily available. Our guide carries a satellite phone and will give daily updates on our website as to how the group is progressing.

Where can I get more information on history, books, and additional activities in the region?
Russian history is vast and there are a few books on Elbrus and the region. Check the reading list on the Elbrus page of the web site.

Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the guide?
You can always call our offices and one of the Elbrus guides will contact you, generally about 1 month before your trip departure. 30 days prior to departure, we mail a list of other team members to you.

How much should I budget for this expedition? How much cash should I plan to bring?
$500 should easily cover any extra expenses and tips. Most climbers prefer to bring about $1000 and have credit cards.

How much should I tip my guide and staff?
10% of the total trip costs is the suggested tip amount for all American and Russian guides together, and you may have some perfunctory tips at hotels and at time of transport. Tipping is not required but a common practice.

How do I register for this expedition?
At: or by calling our offices with a credit card handy.

What paperwork do I need to send in?
Each climber should submit an application and flight information.

When is the money due for this expedition? What kind of payment do you except?
We accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express, personal checks and Alpine Ascents gift certificates. To reserve a space the deposit is $700.00 and balances are due 120 days prior to departure. Unpaid balances can result in forfeiture of trip.

What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY: Note: Alpine Ascents International highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all programs.
Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Alpine Ascents International must adhere to a stringent refund policy. Specific brochure cancellation and refund policies may supercede those enumerated below.
• Each deposit, regardless of amount, includes a $200.00 non-refundable registration fee.
• All Expedition balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified.
• Full refunds, less registration fee, will be provided 90-days or more prior to departure date.
• 50% refunds will be provided 60-89 days prior to departure date.
• No refunds will be provided 59-days prior to departure date.
• Participants whose balances are not received by the 90-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their place on the expedition.
• All refund requests must be made in writing and be received in our office within the 90-day period, as stated above.

What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?
As our Elbrus climb travels to multiple locations, early departure may be difficult. If a climber needs to depart early our guides will assist in obtaining the necessary transportation and reservations to get you home as quickly as possible. We also have local Russian staff at our disposal for assistance.

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