Russia: Climb Mt Elbrus

Mount Elbrus, the gem of the Caucasus Mountain Range, is the highest peak in Europe, making it one of the coveted ‘seven summits’. It is often the second of the summits attempted by climbers (Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa being the first) and considered one of the easiest. Mt. Elbrus is covered in snow year-long and ice flows from its glaciers descending down all sides of the mountain. This itinerary includes acclimatization hikes in the foothills of the Caucasus mountain range and base camp; making for a range of diverse hiking experiences with the goal of getting your body safely prepared for your final summit attempt.



Trip Highlights

  • Climb the highest non-technical peak in Europe (and Russia) at 18,510 ft
  • Be part of a club that has climbed one of the seven summits
  • Explore the iconic city of Moscow; optional trips to St Petersburg
  • Build "altitude experience" for future treks with Embark; previous climb experience not required

Trip Summary

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Day 1
Arrive Moscow

Welcome to Russia! You’ll be transferred from Moscow’s SVO airport to your hotel upon arrival. Get settled into your hotel and be sure to get plenty of rest. Tomorrow you experience Moscow!

Day 2
Tour Moscow

Today you will conquer your jet-lag as you experience the must-sees for anyone traveling to Russia: Red Square, the Kremlin, and of course the famous Saint Basil’s cathedral and its onion domes. Standing in the middle of Red Square, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the weight of both history and modernity surrounding you: the Kremlin walls, Lenin’s Tomb, and Gum Mall. You will have a guided tour inside the world-renowned Kremlin, seeing the Armory and its fascinating collection of national treasures. After lunch, your guide will tour you through Moscow’s world-famous metro system, which is a like museum in and of itself.

Day 3
Flight to the North Caucasus

After flying into the Caucasus Mineral Waters airport (MRV), settle in for the scenic, 3-hour drive to Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. Your guide will brief you on the history of the Balkar people along the way, among whom you will be spending the next week. Upon completion of the breathtaking drive to the foot of Mount Elbrus you will check into your hotel and enjoy some free time to explore the area and take in the views around you. You will meet with your guide tonight and go over the plan for the next 6 days, and how we will prepare for a successful Elbrus ascent!

Day 4
Cheget Acclimatization Hike

Your acclimatization to the Caucasus Mountain heights starts today! Most of today is focused on preparing for your Elbrus ascent. Cheget is a neighboring mountain to Elbrus with a beautiful view. You will spend several hours hiking up the steep incline of Cheget to reach a a rough elevation of 10,000ft (3,000 m), getting your body used to the elevation and conditions. You will be climbing surprisingly close to the Georgian part of the Caucasus range, off to your left side. After a tasty lunch on the mountain, all gear will be double-checked (and rented as necessary), for your upcoming ascent. Be sure to try some of the tasty local cuisine at dinner tonight!

Day 5
Irikchat Acclimatization Hike

Today we hike up a nearby mountain valley for group training in preparation for the icy conditions of Elbrus. The Mountain Valley Irikchat is renowned in the Elbrus region as one of the most picturesque, as the Irik river flows down from a glacier. You’ll be glad you had the chance to experience one of the quieter, parallel valleys and the natural beauty of the Caucasus Mountain range. Rest up tonight, as tomorrow you are moving up to base camp!

Day 6
Cable Car to Base Camp

Today you meet Mount Elbrus up close and personal. You will take the famous cable car system up three levels to the climbers’ base camp at 12,500 ft. This will be your home the next 4 days for your Elbrus ascent. As rivet- ing as you will find Elbrus itself, perhaps the surrounding Caucasus range, stretching into Georgia and beyond is even more so. Once you have are settled into your lodging, you will go on another brief acclimatization hike combined with some self-arrest training. Your body will continue to adjust today, as the elevation has doubled, not to mention the significantly colder weather (there is snow here at base camp year-round). Your mountain guide will walk you through practical precautions for summiting Elbrus safely and successfully.

Day 7
Pastukhov Rocks Climb

During your second day on the mountain you will get a feel for the initial part of the ascent as you do an acclimatization climb up to the Pastukhov Rocks, around 15,400 ft. This is a long, gently sloping incline, which will be a good test for how you are acclimating to the higher elevations of base camp. Spend some time getting used to the gear you will be using with some ice axe training. If you have a chance today, make sure to check out Elbrus’s infamous “World’s Worst Outhouse;" now you can mark that off your bucket list!

Day 8
Rest Day

Wake up with excitement today, as it is your final day before your Elbrus ascent. Today is a rest day before the big summit attempt to allow your body one more day to adjust to the altitude. If there are more than 3 people in your group, you will meet your second summit guide today, who will team with you and your guide on your ascent tomorrow. Turn in to bed early after dinner, as an early wake-up call awaits!

Day 9
Summit Day

It’s Summit Day! You have got an 8 to 12 hour ascent ahead of you. You will start your climb in the dark between 2:00 and 3:00 am and take a snowcat to the Pastukhov Rocks, where your hike begins. Team is a beautiful thing as you work together with your group up the mountain. The early morning hours of your climb are quite surreal with a long line of climbers ascending Elbrus, lit up by a string of head lamps. Your climb will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination, with altitude affects, extreme cold temperatures, and unpredictable weather all real possibilities. You will wind your way up the mountain, through the area known as the Traverse, which brings you up to the Saddle- an area separating Elbrus' summits. The majority of your climb will be non-technical until the last 200 meters where you will clip into a fixed line the leads you to your final destination. It will all be worth it when you reach the top and take in the view from the roof of Europe at 18,510 ft. Once you have a quick celebration of your success, prepare for your 4 to 6 hour descent back to base camp. Dinner never tasted so good!

Day 10
Reserve/Rest Day

Rest day! You have earned it. Gather your things and jump on the cable car to head back down to Cheget this morning. Today you might peruse the charming local souvenir markets, full of tempting local goods, including Caucasus Papakha hats, beautiful hand-knit slippers, shawls, and tasty local jams. Or, if you are up for it, go on a local horseback excursion, see a beautiful waterfall, or try out a 4-wheeler on the local trails. In case there was inclement weather on Day 8 (yesterday’s planned ascent), today will be your summit day up Elbrus.

Day 11
Departure to Moscow

Pack your bags and say goodbye for now to the North Caucasus, a place we hope you will return for another adventure. You will return to the local Mineral Waters Airport (MRV), and head back to Moscow this morning or afternoon. Once transferred to your hotel, you’ve got one final evening to explore Russia’s majestic capital; make the most of it!

Day 12
Departure home or your onward extension

Fly home today

Dates & Pricing


Double Occupancy
  • Jun 18
    Jun 29
    $3695 (Discontinued until further notice) USD
  • Aug 20
    Aug 31
    $3695 (Discontinued until further notice) USD

Above Costs Include:

  • All international & domestic airport transfers as per the program by private vehicle- excluding the Moscow departure transfer at the end of the trip
  • 3 nights Accomodation in Moscow & breakfasts while at the hotel
  • Professional mountain guides and additional guides for summit attempt (1:3 ratio)
  • All excursion and entrance fees
  • Gondola fees
  • All expedition equipment (ropes, communications, first-aid kits, etc)
  • All meals and accommodations while on climb
  • Accommodation, meals, insurance, equipment, transportation and allowances of guide

Cost Does Not Include:

  • Lunch & dinner in Moscow prior and post-climb
  • Airport transfer in Moscow at the end of the trip
  • Russian tourist visa
  • International airfare
  • Additional summit attempt
  • Travel insurance & overseas medical insurance coverage
  • Expenses of personal nature (tips for guide, porter and driver, laundry, bar bill, telephone calls etc.)
  • Liability for expenses against sickness, flight cancellation, road blockage, accidents and other occurrence beyond our control
  • Rental of personal climbing gear (see required gear list)
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