Mount Elbrus

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

I can't remember the last time I had this much fun! Amazing expedition with a brilliant group of people. The quality of this expedition was second to none. Coming from Australia I could have chosen a company closer to home, but I'm glad I didn't. AAI were exceptional from beginning to end. I can't speak highly enough of all the AAI staff. Questions are answered immediately and you're always fully confident that everything is organized and in hand. Course materials are informative and thorough. The strength of this program is in the detailed organization as well as the lengthy experience AAI have in running them. It is apparent when you are on the trip as everything runs smoothly, or if it doesn't (as Russia isn't the easiest country to navigate), there's someone available to sort it out. AAI have created an amazing itinerary. There's time to enjoy the destination country along with the climbing. Your experience in running these programs is evident and you're obviously fine-tuning continuously to ensure clients have the best expedition possible.

Elbrus Overview - Highest Point in Europe
With more than 20 years of experience on Elbrus and nearly 100% summit success, Alpine Ascents' expertise in logistics and guides makes for an unsurpassed program. This has been an Alpine Ascents classic trip since the early 90's. While travel to Russia can be cumbersome with many logistical hurdles, we take great care to pre-plan the small details, giving you and our expert guides (Vern Tejas is scheduled to lead our 2017 climbs) an excellent chance to reach the summit of Europe's highest peaks. Providing extra summit days, multiple reservations at the high camp hut, an excellent staff of Russian guides and a keen sense of how to care for our climbers helps us bridge the gap from daunting task to well-executed journey.

Unlike other outfitters, who may rush you in and out of Russia, we take the time to properly acclimatize and to visit the grand cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Dynamic in both region and terrain, Mt. Elbrus stands as a watchtower between the great masses of Europe and Asia. Elbrus is a large, double-coned volcano whose twin summits vary by about 65 feet.

Our Elbrus program is open to any climber who has successfully completed our Mt. Rainier climb, or a similar program (prior climb on glaciers). This journey begins with acclimatization along well-traveled trails, which wind endlessly through the foothills of the Caucasus. En route, we interact with the local people as we wander through the villages and markets that pepper the mountain's lower region. Once we have established high camp, we prepare for an early morning departure to the West Summit (the higher of the twin peaks). The route ascends 1000m of moderate snow climbing to the saddle. From there, we turn west and head up 300m of steeper terrain, finally reaching the summit plateau. See day-to-day itinerary

Take a look at our cybercast to view past years and some of the delights of this trip:

Elbrus is the near-perfect ascent for aspiring climbers who wish to test their skills at increasing altitude. Although only basic mountaineering skills are required, high altitude and unpredictable weather make this a challenging and enticing ascent.

Region and City Tour
Elbrus's surroundings provide a look into the cultures of the Turkish, Georgian, Azerbaydzhani and Russian people. Our expedition begins in St. Petersburg, a traditional vanguard of European culture. It is one of the few cities in the world that has retained its charm amidst change. Downtown sprawls with exquisite architecture that canopies streets of shops, small restaurants and an active nightlife scene. Following our climb, we return via Moscow, the focal point of commerce and politics in Russia. Markets and state shops dominate Moscow's street life. Depending on schedules, we may take time to visit the Kremlin, stroll at Red Square and along the Moscow River, and tour the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

Recent Recaps
2016: In 2016, lead by Vern and Carole Tejas we saw 96% success between the two teams.

2015: Nearly 90% success with Vern and Carole Tejas leading our teams.

2014: Both of our teams summited with a success rate of 100%, led by Willie Benegas. Read More.

2013: Both our teams summited, with a success rate of over 90%, in a year in which a number of teams not reaching the summit. We attribute this to our expert guide and our extended itinerary, which allowed us a second summit attempt when weather turned bad on the first summit attempt. Our flexibility and ability to reserve multiple days at high camp, rebook the Sno-Cats, etc., were vital in giving Team 2 a chance to summit.

2012: Proved to be a spectacular year, with our three full teams reaching the summit under the leadership of Vern Tejas, assisted by Carole Tejas. We returned to the South Side and the mountain proved to be in great condition for all climbs. We had three outstanding groups and as always, we are happy to put you in touch with previous year's team members for their stories.


Climbing Skill Level
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. We expect climbers to have basic skills 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). The requirements are also based on our desire to have similarly skilled team members.

Physical Conditioning
Elbrus at 18,510’ is an extreme, high altitude climb. You should be comfortable climbing four to eight hours per day. Summit day is the most demanding portion of the climb, typically involving 8 hours for the ascent and six to seven hours for the descent. Our expeditions require strength & endurance. Being in sound physical condition is the single most important aspect for climbers to maximize their climbing potential. The better your physical condition, the more likely you are to perform well and have an enjoyable experience. The most frequent comment we have received over the years is that climbers have underestimated the fitness level needed to fully enjoy their trip. Additionally, inadequate fitness will affect the atmosphere, pace, and overall enjoyment of the climb for all participants. We highly recommend checking with your physician before undertaking any strenuous activity. Comprehensive training information can be found here.

Environmental Responsibility
Alpine Ascents is deeply committed to maintaining ecosystems at home and around the world. With each expedition, trek and course, we not only attempt to leave the environment as we found it, but strive to assist the local population in protecting the land and people indigenous to that region. Alpine Ascents reaches for the highest ethical business practices at home and abroad. Each staff member is dedicated to environmentally sound alpine ascents.

Environmental stewardship remains one of our core values, and we take Leave No Trace ethics and practices seriously. The mountains are our home and we are unwilling to sacrifice their preservation for human objectives. On every one of our courses and climbs, we teach and follow the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices.

Elbrus, with it's high double-headed crown, is one of Europe's most popular peaks. Hosting aspiring climbers from all around the world has had profound impacts on the mountain and the nearby villages. We dedicate great efforts to reduce and mitigate the negative effects of our passing through this beautiful range. Along with all of our usual procedures, (trash removal and not relying on bottled water) we go out of our way to visit the now-defunct Priut Hut. This old relic of the USSR days is a great place for our mini seminar on environmental awareness. A discussion on prevailing attitudes of the bygone era dramatically reveals it's legacy and lessons for mountaineers. The site opens our eyes to the way our actions may affect climbers for generations to come. It's an an enlightening moment in the growth of responsible mountaineers.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship can be seen on our programs around the world. Over the years, with the assistance of our Sherpa teams, we have stepped up efforts to clean Mt. Everest. Our Wag Bag® program made a pioneering step in human waste management for the National Park System and Forest Service in the North Cascades. On Aconcagua, we pioneered a waste removal system on our climbs, utilizing the WAG Bag® system. And we continue our maintenance and minimal impact plans wherever we guide. We believe that given the proper information, most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment.

Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally conscious mountaineers.

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