Elbrus (5642m), the Europe tallest mountain.
Hiking nearby and the ascent.

Elbrus general view

The Main Caucasian Ridge stretches for 1200 km from the West to the East, from the Black Sea to the Caspian. Its width reaches 180km, and it forms not only a geographical, but also ethnic and political barriers, separating Russia from the Caucasian region and its mosaic of nationalities. Greater Caucasus is traditionally divided into three regions: West Caucasus, Central and East Caucasus. The borders of these territories go along meridians that cross the Main Ridge over Mt.Elbrus (5642 m) in the West and Kazbek (5033 m) in the East. It is between these two giants that the most beautiful and interesting peaks stand, with more than forty of them surpassing the level of 4000m above the sea. It is here where seven caucasian fivethousanders arise their heads to the sky.

Members of ONCE (Organización National de los Ciegos Españoles - Spanish National Organization of Blinds) Expedition, one rope team after another, leave the Shelter of the 11 (still standing at middle of July 1998 when the photo had been taken)

for training and high altitude adaptation on the Pastukhov Rocks.

Among variety of regions composing the Central Caucasus it is the Elbrus Region that is a genuine gem. In spite of that high altitudes, rarified air, changeable weather have scared people away from this region for ages, now it is the most frequently visited sport and recreation center on the Caucasus. Many lateral valleys go aside of the main one where river Baksan flows. They lead to famous peaks of the Caucasus, such as Donguz-Orun (4492m), head-turning walls of Shkhelda (4300m), Tchatyn (4368m) with its vertical 500m North Face, the legendary Ushba (4710m) and, of course, Mt.Elbrus (5642m), the highest summit of Europe which surpasses the pride of the Alps, Mt.Blanc, by more than 800m.


It was scarcity of oxygen, cold and strong wind that met them up there, on the altitude of 4650m.


The day of summit attempt begins very early. Step by step, by 6 o'clock morning, this obstinate japanese climber had passed by the Pastukhov Rocks. Famous Ushba (on the background) with its 4700m is already below.

The two-headed ice giant crowns the panorama of the Central Caucasus. It is by at least 1000m higher than all its neighbors. Volcano craters, filled now with ice and snow, form summit plateaux of 300-400m in diameter on both the tops. The Eastern Peak is a little lower than its western brother: 5621m and 5642m respectively. All the massif is covered by a gigantic ice cap.


Last meters on the way to the West Summit (5642m).


Titanium pyramide installed on the East Summit (5621m) is already seen.


Victory!


Exhausted but triumphing...

Formerly we wrote in our descriptions: "On the south slope of Elbrus, on a rocky cliff stands Priut of the 11 (Shelter of the Eleven), perhaps the most elevated mountain hotel in the world. Constructed as early as before the WW-II on altitude of 4020m, this three floor streamline shaped building on the concrete substructure can accomodate some one and half hundreds climbers and skiers simultaneously. Sometimes its dining room looks like an overcrowded international mountaineering club." Now it is bitter view of its ruins that meets us on this place... In August 16, 1998 it had been destroyed by swift and remorseless fire.

However, summer 1999 one could observe an activity around this place. Construction work had been begun in the second building of the Priut which were standing destroyed since the WW-II epoch, and in summer 2000 it could already offer a shelter for several dozens mountaineers. Additionally some new huts appeared at a hundred meters above.

A cable lift, probably, also unique in the world, elevates sportsmen and tourists from Asau Meadow (2320m) to "Garabashi glacier" station (3720m). Its two lower pitches are equipped with cabins and the upper one is the chair lift. "Snow cats" are also available here.

"Barrels" is name of another hotel situated just at the "Garabashi" station. Here a dozen of big metallic cylinders lying horizontally provides a comfortable and warm enough refuge with electric light for some 50 persons. All these hotels as well as tents installed in vicinities of the former Priut serve as Base Camp for training on the Pastukhov Rocks (4800m) or for summit attempts.

The CET Neva activity could not be so successful if we did not have a support of many our friends among the local inhabitants, Balkarians - workers of the lift, Elbrus rescuers, hotel employees, drivers etc. Here, in the Elbrus region one can meet very interesting persons, such as Khizir Oytov who ascended the Elbrus tops more than 120 times by the summer 2000, or Iskhak Tilov, manager of the "Barrels" refuge, who in his youth (1978-80) was champion of the ex-USSR and European champion among juniors in downhill, the most prestigious dicipline of the mountain ski. Also we appreciate very much our collaboration with Igor Komarov, chief of the local counter-avalanche service, skier and climber, as well as help coming from Elisabeth Pahl, professional philologist from Germany. Speaking many European languages, in Balkaria she studies the Balkarian idiom and together with her husband, Alexander Baidaev, one of the Elbrus rescuers, has organized a school of ski and snowboard.

Baksan valley and the Elbrus vicinities are easily reachable from Mineralnye Vody (Mineral Waters) airport, which is connected to valleys of the Northern Caucasus through a network of roads.


Shelter of the Eleven is on fire...

Hotel "Barrels"

Counter-avalanche cannon

Ascent of Elbrus – 9-day tour

Day 1
Arrival to Mineralnye Vody airport. 4-hour bus transfer to Terskol village in the Baksan valley (2140 m above the sea). Accomodation in a hotel for two nights.
Day 2
Acclimatization ascent of the Cheget massif up to an altitude above 3000 m with a chair lift at the lower part. Excursion party to the local bazaar (souvenirs and handmade woollen things). Night in the hotel.
Day 3
Checking out of the hotel. 4-km transfer up to "Azau" (2320m) – the lowest station of the Elbrus cable-way. Lifting by the cable-way up to the highest point – "Gara-Bashi" station (3720 m), which includes 2 lower cabin spans, and the upper part – chair-lift. The latter one does not operate sometimes depending on the weather conditions. Accomodation in the "Bochki" ("Barrels", 3720 m) high mountain hotel or in some other huts hereabouts. 1.5-hour acclimatization walk up to "Priut odinnadtsati" ("Shelter of the 11", 4020 m), return down to "Barrels".
Day 4
Acclimatization ascent up to Pastukhov's Rocks (4650 m) or higher. Return down to "Barrels" (3-4 hours up and 1-1.5 hour down).
Day 5
Summit day. Ascent of Elbrus West (5642 m) or Elbrus East (5621m). Leaving for the ascent at 2-3 A.M., 10-12 hours totally. Night in "Barrels".
Days 6, 7
Reserve days. If the group summited successfully on the 5th day they can be used in the valley, for hiking and seeing around.
Day 8
Return to Terskol. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 9
Transfer to the airport, flight home.

9-day tour price'2006 per person for guided groups

number of participants
4
5-6
7-8
price, €
695
625
575

Ascent of Elbrus – 12-day tour

Day 1
Arrival to Mineralnye Vody airport. 4-hour bus transfer to Terskol village in the Baksan valley (2140 m above the sea). Accomodation in a hotel for two nights.
Day 2
Acclimatization ascent of the Cheget massif up to an altitude above 3000 m with a chair lift at the lower part. Excursion party to the local bazaar (souvenirs and handmade woollen things). Night in the hotel.
Day 3
Checking out of the hotel. Bus transfer up to "Shkhelda" climbers' camp in the Adylsu-river valley then 3-hour up-stream walking to campsite on the "Green hotel" meadow (2600 m). Pitching the Base Camp. Night in tents.
Day 4
Ascent of Peak Goumatchi (3805 m, Main Caucasian Range) or Peak VIA-tau (3820 m) – both are of 1B (Russian scale) or F (French scale) difficulty grade. Return to BC. Totally 6 to 9 hours. Night in BC.
Day 5
Ascent of Peak Jantugan (3991 m, Main Caucasian Range), 2A or PD difficulty grade. Return to BC. Totally 10-12 hours. Night in BC.
Day 6
1.5-hour return afoot down to the "Shkhelda" camp and bus transfer to the Terskol hotel. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 7
Checking out of the hotel. 4-km transfer up to "Azau" (2320m) – the lowest station of the Elbrus cable-way. Lifting by the cable-way up to the highest point – "Gara-Bashi" station (3720 m), which includes 2 lower cabin spans, and the upper part – chair-lift. The latter one does not operate sometimes depending on the weather conditions. Accomodation in the "Bochki" ("Barrels", 3720 m) high mountain hotel or in some other huts hereabouts. 1.5-hour acclimatization walk up to "Priut odinnadtsati" ("Shelter of the 11", 4020 m), return down to "Barrels".
Day 8
Acclimatization ascent up to Pastukhov's Rocks (4650 m) or higher. Return down to "Barrels" (3-4 hours up and 1-1.5 hour down).
Day 9
Summit day. Ascent of Elbrus West (5642 m) or Elbrus East (5621m). Leaving for the ascent at 2-3 A.M., 10-12 hours totally. Night in "Barrels".
Day 10
Reserve day. If the group summited successfully on the 9th day it can be used down, in the valley, for hiking and seeing around.
Day 11
Return to Terskol. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 12
Transfer to the airport, flight home.

12-day tour price'2006 per person for guided groups

number of participants
4
5-6
7-8
price, €
755
675
625

The price includes:
invitation;
necessary permits, registration and other administrative fees in Kabardino-Balkaria;
lodging in hotels and huts according to the program;
all transfers in the Elbus region according to the program;
Cheget and Elbrus cable lifts;
full board during stay in the Elbrus region;
cook in "Barrels" or in mountain huts;
tents;
CET Neva guide-organizer.

The price does not include:
cost of visa;
internal regular flights to Min. Vody airport and back;
luggage air transportation;
insurance;
porters;
"snowcat";
personal expenses;
unexpected premature evacuation (any extra pay due to client's change of the appointed departure time).

Necessary personal equipment:
sleeping bag;
carrymat (12-day tour only);
headlamp;
double plastic boots;
high altitude mountain clothing;
crampons;
ice axe;
harness;
carabiners (1 per person for the 9-day tour, 3 per person for the 12-day tour);
helmet (12-day tour only);
jumar (ascender) and descender (12-day tour only).
Additionally, members of non-guided groups are strongly recommended to have a rope, 5-6 ice screws, 5-6 pitons (nuts, friends) for the group depending on season and slope conditions.

 
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