Day 1 – Depart UK
Day 2 - Arrive Mineralnye Vody mid-morning. Soak up some local colour before regrouping in the evening a full 360 brief and an introduction to our local Russian mountain guides. Overnight in hotel.
Day 3 - Mineralnye Vody - Emanuil Valley (2,250m)
We’ll board 4WDs for an early morning start to the base camp of Mount Elbrus. The feeling of remoteness is tangible and we’re greeted with fantastic scenery of huge canyons and local villages. The last 45 minutes of this 4 hour drive is on a hairy road along the edge of a spectacular canyon, as we descend into an alpine meadow and an exciting river crossing before reaching base camp in Emmanuel’s Pasture (2,700m). Soaring above are the twin summits of Mount Elbrus. We’ll take an afternoon walk to the local hot springs and a huge waterfall.
Day 4 - We begin Day 4 climbing to Camp 1 at 3,800m. It’ll take around four to five hours and return to Emmanuel’s (BC) to sleep. Today’s climb allows us to get into trekking shape and to test our boots and equipment and, more importantly, we start acclimatising by “climbing high and sleeping low”. The terrain is a geologist’s delight as we climb through hardened lava contorted into stone mushrooms, volcanic bombs and exotic lava sculptures.
Day 5 - Today we retrace our footsteps through a pristine alpine environment to the high camp sitting on the edge of a huge glacier. We strike camp or find space on the bunks of a small hut that is to be used exclusively by our team. The afternoon is spent soaking up the glorious feeling of wilderness at our lofty perch.
Day 6 – Ascent to Lenz’s rocks (4,600m)
A long, day today, but an exhilarating one, as we rope up to commence an exciting climb up on the glacier’s back to a rocky pyramid known as Lenz Rocks. The views open up as we climb higher and reveal many of the lofty summits of the Caucasus range. Your guides will teach you relevant roping up and glacier travel techniques. We have the chance to scramble up Lenz Rocks to reach a cross there and to soak up the amazing views over a picnic lunch.
Day 7 – We rest today in preparation for the summit attempt, though it won’t all be about resting however as the guides once again get busy conducting “Ecole de Glace”. For a few hours today you’ll enhance your Alpine skills and learn how to self-arrest, crampon and ice-axe techniques as well as have a session on how to set up crevasse rescue systems. The afternoon is dedicated to chilling out, hydrating, eating and sleeping. All of these are important as soon the summit attempt begins.
Day 8 - Summit Day (5,642m)
Our climb to reach Europe’s highest point will begin around midnight. We retrace our steps to Lenz Rocks in the light of our head-torches and the stars and moon. Then, as the sun creeps over the horizon, we exit the glacier to gain a rock band through which a safe path zig-zags to just under 5,000m. By now we can see far over the plains of Russia and the enormity of the Caucasus Mountains. Soon we reach the saddle dividing the twin peaks of Elbrus and cross it to reach the final steep slopes of the west summit. After a break we continue up virgin snow to gain the final ridge to the top. Today is a tough day by anyone’s standards (12 – 14 hrs) but as we reach the summit, we are rewarded not only by tremendous views but by the ultimate satisfaction that we have accomplished this amazing achievement by climbing the mountain from the basecamp to the summit under our own steam. There is no finer feeling than this. To reward ourselves for our hard work we descend only 850m and are met by a PistenBully that will take us down to the ski lifts which drop to the valley floor on the South-side. From here we board a final transfer to the village of Cheget and our hotel. This night of summit celebration is always memorable!
Day 9 - Contingency Day
Reserve day in case of bad weather at summit camp or if people are in need of further acclimatisation. If the traverse is successful, we stay in hotel accommodation (not included in the price).
Day 10 - Mineralnye Vody
Rest day and a celebration lunch in an iconic Caucasus restaurant where you’ll be presented with your summiteer certificate. Shopping and enjoying the hospitality of this Alpine village and its good range of restaurants and local markets.
Day 11 – International flights home