Logistics

Paperwork

Please take the time to read the entire Logistics section in full. If you have questions, feel free to call the Alpine Ascents office or email us. 

Make sure you submit the following paperwork to Alpine Ascents as soon as possible after registering for your climb.

⎕  Passport copy
⎕  Flight itinerary

This information assists us in procuring permits and making final hotel and transportation arrangements.

Trip Insurance

As there are many unforeseen circumstances that may occur during or leading up to the trip, we strongly recommend trip insurance for your expedition.

A variety of trip insurance options are available through different providers. We recommend Comprehensive Trip Insurance for your protection.

There are two basic policies: ‘standard trip insurance’ which can cover injuries or illness, or a ‘cancel for any reason’ addon which covers a wider variety of situations. Note – this addon is considerably more expensive, and if paid out only covers 75% of the trip fee. Please note this is just a summation of the policies available.

Please see complete specific policy information for our recommended policies..

Getting There

Note that trip dates include travel time from your home country. A day-to-day itinerary can be found with your confirmation letter.

Flight reservations for your expedition should be made as soon as possible. Please forward a copy of your flight itinerary before final purchase so we can review departure and arrival dates.

Alpine Ascents can make pick-up, hotel, and transport arrangements to meet individual itineraries.

Flying to Moscow, Russia

Arrival: Arrive in Moscow on Day 2 of your trip itinerary. Please arrive by 3 p.m. Orientation meeting and welcome dinner is at 5:00 p.m. Because independent travel in Russia is difficult, please contact us if you are considering arriving a day early.

Departure: Depart from St. Petersburg on the last day of your itinerary. Please consult your specific itinerary for departure date. Generally these flights depart in the morning and arrive back in the US on the same calendar day.

Early Arrival/Late Departure: We are happy to accommodate other flights. For those arriving early or departing after the scheduled itinerary, we can make hotel and transport arrangements at an additional cost. Please contact our office in advance of your departure if you would like us to make additional reservations.

Missed Flights: If you miss your flight or if your flight is significantly delayed, please contact Gordon Janow by calling our Seattle office (206) 378-1927 and follow the prompt for 24-hour contact.

Upon Arrival

Upon entry into Russia, you will get an immigration form. Remember to retain this immigration form for customs inspectors on your return flight home.

Given the nature of the Moscow Airport we suggest using a taxi or Uber to reach your hotel. This will allow you to easily exit the building as opposed to trying to meet up with a pre-arranged driver. If you are uncomfortable taking a taxi or Uber, we can arrange a pick-up for you.

Contact information for your guide and/or a local contact will be emailed with your team roster about a month prior to your trip. Please make sure you have this contact information saved or written down while traveling.

Visa & Entry Requirements

All US citizens are required to have a visa before arriving in Russia. Visas must be taken care of well in advance of the climb and may be obtained from our recommended visa service or procured directly from a Russian Embassy or consulate. Before obtaining a visa, a letter of invitation from Russia must accompany your application. We will provide all information to assist you in getting a visa.

We will mail all applications and the Letter of Invitation to you prior to your trip. You do not need to do anything until you receive this package (about 60 days before departure).

Important Note: You must have a valid passport that does not expire for at least 6 months from date of entry.

Hotels

Given the nature of the Moscow Airport, we suggest using a taxi or Uber to reach your hotel. This will allow you to easily exit the building as opposed to trying to meet up with a pre-arranged driver. If you are uncomfortable taking a taxi or Uber, we can arrange a pick-up for you.

If you prearrange a pick-up with us, your guide or an Alpine Ascents representative will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel in Moscow. Please ensure we have a copy of your arrival schedule, and have your guide’s contact information saved (will be sent a month prior to trip).

For climbers who prefer single room accommodations, these arrangements can be made for an additional fee. Be aware that private rooms are available at hotels and resorts during our trip, but not in the mountain huts.

For climbers choosing double room accommodations every effort will be made to pair you with another climber. A Single Room Supplement Fee will apply if a match cannot be made or there is a last minute cancellation. This will help keep our overall program pricing down since unlike other companies we do not charge more for smaller groups.

In Moscow

Arbat Hotel
Plotnikov Pereulock 12, Moscow
Phone: +7 (499) 450-61-75
Website: arbathotel.ru/en

In St. Petersburg

Petro Palace Hotel
Malaya Morskaya Ulitsa 14, Saint-Petersburg
Phone: +7 (812) 571-30-06
Wesbite: petropalacehotel.com

In Mineral Vody/Terskol

Hotel Alamat
A158, Kabardino-Balkarian Republic
Website: hotelalamat.ru

Gear List

Please refer to your Gear List:

You are required to bring every item on this list as described, so be as precise as possible when packing. We are happy to work closely with you on finding the proper gear.

If you plan to rent gear, your rental form must be submitted at least a month prior to expedition start date. Please call our office or e-mail [email protected] with any questions.

Gear Lexicon

If you’re confused by items and/or language on the Gear List, we encourage you to refer to our Gear Guide for explanations on layering systems, differences between boots, etc.

Other Resources

Below are articles written by veteran Alpine Ascents guides that you may find helpful in preparing and packing for your expedition.

Medications & Prescriptions for Mountain Climbing

Women’s-Specific Tips

Not on the Gear List, but in our Backpacks

Packing Tips

People generally take too much “stuff” rather than too little. Study each item before you pack it. Eliminate redundant items, extra changes of clothing, and excessive“nice to have” luxuries. You will benefit from traveling light because of the costs of excess baggage and because of the frequent loading and unloading of bags. Remember to review your airline’s weight limits and pack accordingly. Traveling light may be your key to summit success. Take everything on the required equipment list and little else.

Expenses

We recommend using a combination of US dollars and credit cards for purchases and extra expenses in Russia. The airports have exchange booths for changing dollars to rubles, as do the major hotels. Be aware that you lose money each time you change, so it is wise to plan efficiently. ATM’s are generally the better way to obtain rubles, as ATM’s in the city are readily available and usually easier to get to than an exchange kiosk.

ATM’s and exchange bureaus are limited in Terskol, so it is best to exchange dollars for rubles in Moscow before travel to Terskol. Also be aware that like other European cities, Russian cities can be very expensive. Generally $1,000 for travel money is plenty, you will likely use less than half.

Early Departure/Evacuation

If you need to leave the expedition early, you are responsible for all incurred expenses (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc). A comprehensive trip insurance plan is strongly recommended, which can cover these costs in the event that they occur.

Tipping

Our guides make every effort to ensure your climb is safe, successful, and as enjoyable as possible. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. It’s difficult to recommend a specific amount as we believe tips should be based on level and quality of services, as well as an amount that meets your budget. Please consider the information below to be a general recommendation.

Tipping for local Russian guides averages $200 per person. For Alpine Ascents guides, 8-12% of the total trip cost for the guide team is a standard guideline. Any contribution to the guides’ tip pool can be given directly to your lead guide and will be appreciated by the entire team.

On the Mountain

Physiology Of Mountaineering

Dehydration, hypothermia, frostbite, and altitude illness are all important health conditions to be aware of while climbing. Please read our overview of these physical factors:

Food & Water

Food variety can be limited in Russia with even greater limitations for those on a vegetarian diet. Our summit bid is
launched from a hut where food is ample but limited in variety. We are aware of the potential monotony of expedition food and Alpine Ascents makes every effort to make meals a positive part of the climb. We take great care in our meal preparation, understanding the importance staying healthy, fueling effectively, and overall enjoyment.

Tap water is not safe to drink anywhere in Russia, even in the best hotels. All drinking water and water for brushing teeth should be either bottled or treated with a water purification system. Bottled mineral water is widely available throughout the parts of Russia we visit. All water provided on the mountain will be treated by boiling and/or with purification tablets.

Health Tips

You may want to consult your physician for advice on treatments for gastrointestinal upsets that you may encounter on your trip. In the past, climbers have relied on antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin. Your doctor may recommend medications such as Lomotil or Imodium to stop diarrhea, and Compazine to prevent nausea. Keep in mind that you will be spending at least 24 hours traveling each way.

Leave No Trace

Alpine Ascents International practices Leave No Trace principles on all expeditions. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Before your climb, please become familiar with Leave No Trace:

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

As guides, we spend time teaching the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard to get high into the mountains, reaching a pristine campsite, witnessing incredible views, and having the feeling that no one has been there before.

Conversely, there is nothing more disheartening than working hard to climb a mountain, reaching a site and encountering trash, food waste, and toilet paper. Please read the seven LNT principles, and call the office if you have any questions about what you can do to plan ahead.

Excellent. Communication and interface with the AAI office and staff was easy and prompt. Information and direction was always available through the months leading up to the departure date.

Mount Elbrus double-coned summit. Left summit is the highest at 18,510 feet
Russian Orthodox Cathedrals in the Kremlin, Moscow.
Cultural Museum on Red Square, Moscow.
Climbers on an acclimatization hike, with Elbrus in the background.
Looking outside out hotel window at the Caucasus Range. Lucky 7
View from the new Elbrus Huts.
Relaxing at the top of an acclimatization hike, Elbrus in the background.
Snow Cat used to transport gear to our highest hut.
Sunrise on Elbrus summit day.
The last 400 feet to the summit.
High on summit day with the shadow of Elbrus under the full moon.
Ushba, one of the most famous mountains of the Caucasus.
Celebration party after summiting Elbrus.
Climbers high on summit day.
View of one of the new Elbrus Huts
View of one of the new Elbrus Huts
View of the new Elbrus Huts
Eugene and Nicolai, two of our Russian guides.
Sunflower fields outside Mineral Vody, southern Russia.
St. Isaacs Cathedral, St. Petersburg.
Peter and Pauls Fortress, St. Petersburg
The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the greatest mueseum of Russia.
View of one of the new Elbrus Huts

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