DAY 1:: ARRIVAL TO NORTH CAUCASUS
After flying into the Caucasus Mineral Waters airport (MRV), settle in for the scenic, 1.5 hour. drive to Kislovodsk, the last town nestled in the northern foothills of Mount Elbrus, which is famous for its health-bolstering mineral waters. Your guide will brief you on the history of the historic towns through which you are driving. You will have a quick stop at a gear rental shop on the way, to get whatever vital mountaineering equipment you were not able to bring with you. Once you have arrived in Kislovodsk , check into your hotel and enjoy some free time to explore the famous park and try the local mineral spring waters. Locals say it is the best preparation for Elbrus possible. You will meet with your guide tonight and go over the plan for the next 10 days, and a successful Elbrus ascent!
DAY 2:: TRANSFER TO BASE CAMP
Your acclimatization to the Caucasus Mountain heights starts today! A 2.5 hour. drive will take you up over rugged mountain roads through lush valleys and into the northern foothills of Elbrus. Your destination is Elbrus base camp, or Djili-Suu. At 8,200 ft (2,500 m) elevation few places feel so remote. After settling in to camp you will head off on a short acclimatization hike to stretch your legs.
DAY 3:: ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE
Today you will go on an acclimatization hike up to 10,200 feet (3100 m) to see fascinating rock formations called the stone mushrooms, which are reported to be a place of ancient pagan worship. Return to base camp for another night beneath the amazing starry skies of the North Caucasus Mountains. You will spend the 3 nights at base camp in tents; you wanted the more remote option of climbing Mt. Elbrus… you got it on the North Route!
DAY 4:: GEAR SHUTTLE TO HIGH CAMP
You will do some serious altitude adjustment today, as you will carry a portion of your gear up to high camp at 12,300 ft (3,750 m). This is a functional acclimatization hike! You will leave some of these supplies at high camp and then return to base camp for the evening. Enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountain range on this relaxed hike.
DAY 5:: ASCEND TO HIGH CAMP
Today you will make the full move to high camp with the remainder of your gear. This trek covers some of the most beautiful mountain terrain you will experience here, as you hike past narrow gorges cutting through the mountain steppe, and finally work your way up a glacial moraine along the Mikhelchiran Glacier to reach high camp. You will start noticing the higher altitude as the landscape turns alien and alpine!
DAY 6:: ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE
This morning you will head off on another acclimatization hike, this time suiting up for glacier travel and learning valuable safety skills such as self-arrest and rope team arrest that you will need for summit day. Your destination is the Lentz Rocks at 15,200 ft (4,600 m). Today you will get a full taste of what mountaineering is like. These 4 nights at high camp will be in the infamous “barrel huts” of Elbrus, or mountain shelters.
DAY 7:: REST DAY
Rest day! You’ve earned it. Make sure to make the most of this day of relaxation and rest so you are strong and ready to go tomorrow on your long-awaited summit day.
DAY 8:: SUMMIT DAY
You will have an early start this morning from high camp, btw 1:00-3:00 am. You will ascend the Mikhelchiran Glacier to reach the saddle between Elbrus’s twin summits at 17,700 ft. Ascending Elbrus’s North Side while the sun rises is one of the definite highlights of this climb. From there it’s a (relatively) short push up the final summit cone to reach the western (highest) summit. After enjoying the summit for a few minutes and the incredible views of the Caucasus range, it’s time to begin your descent back to high camp. Remember, the ascent is only half of the climb!
DAY 9:: RESERVE DAY/ DESCENT TO BASECAMP
In the event of bad weather on Day 8, today is your back-up summit day. If you have already summited, then you will pack up high camp and hike down to base camp for the night.
DAY 10:: RETURN TO KISLOVODSK
Today you will return to the town of Kislovodsk. Explore the town and soak in your last full day in the amazing culture of the North Caucasus mountains. Enjoy your first hot shower and night in a bed in over a week, and make sure to try the tasty local shashlik, or lamb kabobs!
DAY 11:: DEPARTURE
This morning you will make the 1.5 hour drive back to the Mineral Waters airport in time to catch your outgoing flight to Moscow. Congratulations on summiting Mt. Elbrus!