I summited Elbrus on an 8-day tour with Pilgrim Tours, a company that I would highly recommend to all who are looking for an operator on this peak. The hotel in Terskol was excellent, the food was pretty good, and the portions were more than enough.
Before going to Elbrus I attempted Mont Blanc with my friend to acclimatize but did not manage to get past the Grand Couloir due to rockfall. Afterward we went to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, arriving in Mineralnye Vody on Friday (August 14) at noon.
After a 4 hour drive from the airport, via Pyatigorsk and Baksan we made it to Terskol. If driving solo there are a lot of police pulling over people and checking papers at checkpoints. The driver seemed to know all the cops though so it was no issue.
Saturday: Took the chairlift from Terskol up to about 3000 m on Cheget, and hiked an hour to 3500 m. A very easy day.
Sunday: Move bags to Barrels huts, hiked to Pashtuhov Rocks but had to turn back because a storm was coming in. Later we heard that some Polish climbers were lost in the storm. Stayed in the huts, which was not very comfortable. If I were to climb Elbrus again I could bring a thermarest to use in the huts.
Monday: Because we did not get to 4700 m (the top of Pashtuhov Rocks) the previous day, we hiked up to the lower part of the rocks at 4500 and turned back. Got some rest before summit day.
Tuesday: Got up at midnight, breakfast at 12:50, and took the snowcat to 4700 m at 2 am (it cost 600 euros for the group of 15 people). Our group voted to take the snowcat because the afternoon was supposed to be stormy. The snowcat had no cab, so we sat outside and it was cold except for the hot diesel fumes that blew all over us.
At 2:30 we got to 4700 m and began the ascent. It wasn't as cold as I'd expected, maybe -10 C and -20 C windchill. My water bottles in my pack (stored upside down in my spare layer) did not freeze at all. The guides said it was very cold so it might be colder than usual here, I'm not sure. The wind picked up at 4 am, up to perhaps 50 kph and gusts a bit higher, but settled down to 40 or so for the rest of the day, with higher gusts on the summit. I confirmed these numbers with the weather report after the ascent.
The route was very busy, and we were constantly passing people going both up and down. By 7 am we reached the saddle (5300 m), with a surprising amount of elevation loss.
The next section to the fixed ropes was very steep and slow going. By this point I was feeling the altitude but was close enough that I was determined to summit. We reached the fixed lines that can be seen from the saddle, and after 300 m were on the summit plateau. There were so many people on the fixed lines with only a carabiner that a fall would have pulled 10 or so people onto a single anchor. It didn't seem very safe. A jumar or tibloc would probably be a better tool, but it wasn't even that difficult to warrant any equipment.
20 minutes later we were on the summit, got the summit pics, and descended after 15 minutes. As I began feeling better about being at a lower altitude I felt a dehydration headache coming on.
We descended to the Pashtuhov Rocks, and a couple members of the group voted to take a snowcat down so we took it. It cost 2000 rub per person. A solo climber could also take a snowmobile down the mountain for 2000-4000 rub. A bunch of them were waiting for climbers at the rocks.
At the huts we had the choice to stay the night there or descend to Terskol. We chose to descend but the upper chairlift was broken from the lightning storm a couple nights ago. But the guide got a lorry to take us down to the middle station for 300 rub each.
All in all, a good ascent. With the snowcat it was not too tough, and I was surprised how easily we did it considering our acclimatization.
Cloudy and cold on ascent, on descent we were caught by thunderstorm and snowfall - so a bit scary :)
But everyone successfully reach the camp.
Great mountain, summit with very good friend!
yes, It was really bad weather windy, snowy and off course cold....:)
Left Diesel at 7:10am and made summit at 12:30. Back down to Diesel at 1:50pm. Clear skies but cold and very high winds. The climb was the last peak (besides Beshtau) in my summer trip from Swiss to Russia via Turkey.
If it were not a 7 summit, not many would climb it. Pretty straightforward climb with only the altitude being a factor. Barrels were not as bad as I thought hey would be.. Scott
The guides did not insist on having an ice ax, but in the storm on icy slopes it would have been useful...
I got sick after cold wind to my sweat t-shirt and from drinking too much vodka. With changing fever and chills I turned back around 5200.
With -35° Celsius and Windgusts untill 90kmh
I stay in the top 11 a.m. Not good weather - windy and snow.
This was my first trip to a "big mountain". We were climbing in two days - one from Barrels to Diesel Hut and second day was our summit day, started 3:16am and reached the summit after 11 hours. The weather was perfect and I felt very exhausted during the ascent.
Summited the West peak on my third day, then a few days later the East peak.
This was a Colorado Mountain Club trip. We took the snow cat up from the Barrels to the base of the Pastukhov Rocks. The weather was lousy: blizzard conditions. After a few minutes of hiking, I started feeling light-headed and dizzy, like I was gonna pass out. I took some tea and oxygen and rested for a few minutes 'til I felt a little better, then I was able to continue. The weather continued to suck, so we decided to turn back at 16,200 feet. I was feeling funky again, so when we got back to the Barrels, I decided - damn it! - to sit out the next day's summit attempt. Everyone else summitted the next day. Oh well, that's the nature of mountaineering. The mountain will always be there, and perhaps there will be another time.
I had a blast climbing Mt Elbrus from its remote North side. Our team of 3 decided to climb the peak on our own, although we hired a driver to take us to and from the base camp. We planned for 11 days on the peak, got lucky with weather, and reached the summit on day 7. Aron was able to ski down from a carry to camp 3, and then skied from the summit to the saddle, climbed back up to 18,000 ' and then skied to camp 2. Tom and I shot photos and video throughout the expedition. It was a great trip indeed!
Went with pilgrim tour, they are awesome.
I climbed Elbrus with a great international group of Pilgrim Tours. North route is the only proper way to climb Elbrus. No skilifts or snowcats. Amazing adventure but a littlebit boring climb. Summitday was long from Camp 1 (3750m) to the summit!
very cold, unpredictable weather, but yet summited!
one of the best trips so far.
Found the north side a nice snow climb with a great team of Russians!
Our independent Belgian expedition reached the summit on Monday 18/07/2011. After-wards we did the traverse North-East and descended through the east side! Very nice!