Elbrus: Climb the Highest Peak in Europe with International Mountain Guides
Elbrus is the Triple Threat of mountaineering: as the highest peak in Europe, it is one of the Seven Summits; it offers a non-technical toe-dip into high altitude climbing; and it is the chance you've been waiting for to see urban and rural Russia as well as the great Caucasus Range. IMG is in its fourth decade of guiding on Elbrus longer than any other guide service and we work hard to maintain one the highest standards in the industry.
At 18,510', Mt. Elbrus is your opportunity to experience altitude. If you have climbed Mt. Rainier and have your sights on bigger peaks, Elbrus gives you a long, high summit day without other demands. This is the peak to learn about acclimating, how your body does at altitude, and work out what you need for a successful, long day up high while claiming one of the Seven Summits.
Anyone curious about the world has thought about seeing Russia, and this is your chance to pair a big climb with some serious history and culture. In Moscow, you'll stand nose to nose with the iconic onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, stroll along the banks of the Moskva River, visit Red Square, the Kremlin (the biggest fortress in the world), and maybe the Park of Fallen Heroes where statues from the Soviet era are now displayed as art with Lenin and Stalin hailing one another across grassy fields instead of on city streets.
Our trip begins in St. Petersburg where we will tour the "Venice of Russia" taking a boat trip down the legendary canals. Not known for restraint, Russian art and architecture is a full immersion experience, and we'll take in the highlights including the Hermitage (imperial Winter Palace) on the Neva River and Fortress of Peter and Paul. The Hermitage is also home to over 50 cats (with their own photo ids, press secretary and caretakers) who live and work there to protect the art from rodents. While absorbing the culture, we can attempt to practice reigning in our friendliness, as Russians don't believe in smiling at strangers and reserve their immense warmth and hospitality until at least brief introductions have been made.
From St. Petersburg, we'll fly to the Baksan Valley below the glaciers of Elbrus where we'll acclimate by hiking in the meadow foothills and enjoy views of Elbrus rising above its neighbors in the Caucasus Range. We'll continue to acclimate on Elbrus itself where the views and legends grow... Ask your guides about the old Priut Huts; they should have good stories. Summit day is long and scenic. While working your way up the massive glaciers, look over your shoulder to see more and more layers of Caucasus peaks reveal themselves, with big, bad Ushba dominating the craggy skyline. It's a world-class view, and you might take a moment to congratulate yourself on the good choices that brought you to this point.
We'll celebrate the climb with a day of exploring the Baksan Valley where vegetarians will be profoundly challenged by the smell of charred shashliks (shishkabobs) on the streets. This is a good place to chat with locals, shop for gifts, and enjoy views of the mountain you just climbed before gathering for the team dinner. The following day we'll fly to Moscow for another round of epic sights.
Between Elbrus, the Baksan Valley and touring two of the world's great cities, IMG's Elbrus Expedition will rank among your trips of a lifetime.
Please look over the rest of our expedition info and contact us with any questions.
About IMG's Elbrus Program
We'll spend two nights and one day visiting St. Petersburg. We then fly to Mineralnye Vody and travel by bus to the Caucasus Mountains. Our base of operations is a hotel in the small town of Cheget. We will take several days acclimatizing and training in the Caucasus. Good terrain is available nearby and we'll make use of it while continuing to prepare for our climb.
We'll spend two nights in our huts at 12,500 feet prior to our summit attempt. The huts are basic but insulated and comfortable. You'll have shared sleeping quarters, a communal common room, and a separate dining hut with a dedicated team cook preparing breakfast, lunches and dinners for our team.
Summit day on Elbrus is STRENUOUS but not very technical. At close to 6,000 feet of total ascent, it is a very big day of elevation gain but remains attainable for anyone who has focused on training and preparing. Ice axe arrest, basic cramponing and rope travel are required skills on which you'll receive a refresher course during your stay in Cheget before the climb.
A couple contingency days built into our schedule allow for flexibility on the mountain if we need to wait for the best weather window. If we don't use those days, we'll have a bit of time available to explore the beautiful Baksan Valley region before we depart for Moscow as a team. In Moscow we relax, have a celebratory final dinner, and tour the city for an evening and morning with our tour guide before going our separate ways back home.
Our local guides are great climbers and great companions. They know their country well and support us through all phases of the trip. Long-term friends and connections like these makes our trip special. We can rest assured that the details have been taken care of and we have the resources in place for any contingencies that may arise.
Join us for an unforgettable experience on Mt. Elbrus!