This was the last of my 7 Summits quest... and it was an auspicious expedition. IMG handled the logistics very nicely, and guiding by Mike, Sasha, and Igor was great--attention to detail, always totally safe even when conditions were hairy, and everyone had a great time. On this outing, the food in Terskol was not great--although I think that was not IMG's fault. The food there is just not tasty and many of us developed mild diarrhea. So that sucked. But the trip overall was so fun and beautiful that it did not matter. For details, please see my blog: http://pottinger.net/osm/expedition/elbrus-2017/
Thank you Andrew & Beyond Red Square team for helping make our Elbrus experience exceptional. We researched several of the other tour companies who were offering a similar package and went with Andrew and his team based on a significantly better value & personal service. We saw many of these other tour companies on the mountain and saw no difference between the service they provided and our personal experience with Beyond Red Square. Andrew and his team were extremely attentive and responsive (always within 24 hours) throughout the planning phase. He and our guide Serge, met us at the airport and attended to all our needs from arrival to departure. Sergey proved to be mountaineer savvy, had years of Elbrus experience, and was on a first name basis with many of the other Elbrus guides, rental shops, snow cat operators, & support staff. This familiarity led to our special treatment throughout our trip. By our celebration dinner Sergey was more than a guide, we consider him a lifelong friend. Our accomodations at the AzauStar was very relaxing and had a great location, right at the base of the maintain. The staff was expecting us when we arrived. During our stay the entire staff were very attentive to our needs. Leaprus hut was a pleasant surprise and we highly recommend (heated, personable staff, exceptional food, hot & cold running water). All other huts came with much less positive reviews. Andrew, Sergey and Beyond Red Square, thank you again for making our trip exceptional.
We gave Andrew at Beyond Red Square a tough task in helping us get to the top of Mt. Elbrus, fly to St. Petersburg, and then take a train to Moscow. He did so without any complaints or delays via hundreds of emails. All of our guides, cars, interpreters, etc. were all on time. To be honest, Andrew had to coordinate much more than that. To get to the top of Mt. Elbrus, we actually took two flights, an airport shuttle, a car, three gondolas, a snowmobile, a snowcat, and finally a snowboard which I rode from 5000m down to 3000. Only the snowboard was coordinated by me. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Meru, and the Inca Trail with other guide services, but I would rate Red Square as the best organized of them all. Russia was fantastic and I would consider it as a place to live if the need ever came up, now that I've spent some time there. All the "Russia BAD" crap that we hear on TV and from other idiots here in the USA is complete nonsense. The roads were smooth, the people were great, and there is much to see in Russia. Chris and I found ourselves saying "that's a great idea, I wish we had that in the USA" more times than I can remember. Overall, a very memorable trip and I'm already trying to get my family to St. Petersburg in the next year or so. PS. Andrew met us at the Min Vod airport to shake our hands and leave us with a goodie bag full of homemade cookies and other treats. His handwritten thank you note inside was something you won't get anywhere else.
Great value trip, nice guides This isn't luxury so have marked the food and logistics down a bit but these guys know what they are doing and run a cost effective safe expedition.