This is a 10-day ski expedition and ventures right into the heart of the mighty Caucasus Range. Nestled between the Caspian and the Black Sea, it's a seriously wild place! In April and May snow conditions are usually excellent and the surroundings are majestic and virtually undeveloped. We start with some superb day touring in the Adyr-Su and Baksan valley before attempting the Elbrus ascent.
Although Elbrus is not a technical peak (less technical than Mont Blanc), it is very strenuous and you should be able to ski-tour all day, and be cable of 1300m height gains. However this is a physically demanding tour requiring good fitness and acclimatisation. Typically those that ski Mount Elbrus will already have completed a classic high altitude ski tour such as the Haute Route or Mont Blanc.
Elbrus is an extinct volcano so is conical in shape and has two distinct summits. The western summit is higher and is climbed from a mountain hut (known as the ‘Barrels’) at 3800m. With the right weather conditions, it is a relatively straightforward climb with crampons and ice-axe sometimes necessary on the icy upper slopes, however with good snow it is possible to ski-tour all the way to the summit with a superb (and long) powder run down.
On this expedition you will be lead by a Mountain Tracks IFMGA guide and a local guide working in tandem. For accommodation we use good quality hotels in the valley, and serviced mountain refuges on the mountain, for the most part the accommodation is full board.
We will make every endeavour to carry out the itinerary as shown but alterations may have to be made owing to weather and snow conditions.
A snow cat can be taken from the barrels to Postokov rocks on summit day. This takes you about 900m up the mountain and is STRONGLY advised for all teams unless you are very well acclimatised and have excellent fitness. The cost is about €450 split between the team.
The price includes all accommodation (except in Moscow if required), all meals (except in Moscow), all guide fees and expenses, all uplift costs and local travel and transfers
The price does not include flights to Moscow/Min. Vody, accommodation in Moscow (if required), equipment hire, personal insurance, bar bills, optional excursions, visa fees.
The price is based on a minimum group size of 5 or more.
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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on our Elbrus Ski Tour.
Accommodation is a mix of mountain lodges, hotels and the infamous 'barrels'! Most days you'll just ski with a daypack but you do change accommodation 3-4 times and so you're main bag shouldn't be too bulky.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.
For the Elbrus ski tour you must have an all-mountain/freeride touring ski.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufacturers:
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
For the Elbrus ascent you will need a kit bag or large rucksack to carry your equipment for 3-4 days in the barrels. We usually get a snowcat to transport the bags, food and beer up to the barrels so weight is not too much of an issue. The only consideration is in case of very bad weather you might need to ski down with your bag (a 10 minute blue run), so make sure it has rucksack type straps.
A medium to heavyweight duvet jacket is essential and insulated Primaloft trousers are also useful (not essential) on cold days.
Hiking / trekking boots for travelling to huts and walking between the barrels etc
Ski poles with large touring baskets
Thin Thermarest / Insulated mat - to bolster the mattresses in the barrels!
Two water bottles 1L preferably one with an insulated cover. Avoid platypus / camelbak style systems as they freeze.
High factor sun and lip cream SPF 30+.
Money - Euros can be exchanged everywhere and there are ATM machines in all the towns we visit.
At 5,642m Mt Elbrus is the highest point in Europe (and one of the 7 summits - the highest points on each of the continents).
Elbrus is in the heart of the mighty Caucasus Range which runs for over 1,200km from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east.
The mountain itself is about 1,000m higher than any of the neighbouring mountains and thus dominates the landscape like no other.
The best route into the area is to fly to Moscow (or St Petersburg) and take an internal flight to Mineralnye Vody airport (aka MinVody), which is connected by a network of roads with valleys on the northern slopes of the Caucasus. The journey time by road from MinVody to our first base is about 4 hours.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
The UK government recommend against all but essential travel to the North Caucasus area of the Russian Federation. This is due to its proximity to areas (Dagestan, Chechnya) that have seen terrorist activity in recent years. After not running trips in 2010 and 2011 we returned with groups in 2012, 2015 and 2016 as the security situation in the region has improved with more international travellers visiting the area.
A visa is required for entry into Russia. This should be obtained in the UK prior to departure. PLEASE NOTE: obtaining a Russian visa is a long, tedious process and needs to be done well in advance - we suggest at least 6 weeks and attention to detail when completing the on line form is essential to avoid any unnecessary delays. Invitations and vouchers will be supplied by Mountain Tracks. If your budget allows, using a specialist visa company such as Visa Swift or Action Visas can make the process much more tolerable.
There are no direct flights from Europe to Min. Vody. From the UK and Europe, the best route is via Moscow where a connecting flight can be taken to Min. Vody. You'll be met at Min. Vody airport and transferred in private vehicles to the Ullu Tau Lodge. At the end of trip you'll be transferred back to Min. Vody for the return flight to Moscow and your connecting flights home.
The guideline price for return flights from London (or Geneva) to Min. Vody is £580-600.
The group will be accompanied from the UK by one of Mountain Tracks' IFMGA mountain guides who will assist the local Russian guides and be responsible for ensuring the trip runs smoothly.
Our partners in Russia are Nikolai Shustrov and his team from Top Sport Travel in St Petersburg who will lead the tour when in the Caucasus. They are amongst the best guides on Elbrus and as well as being expert skiers and accomplished mountaineers they speak English and are very friendly!
The price is based on a minimum group size of 5 or more. The price for a group of 4 (minimum number) is £2,395 per person.
4 nights are spent in the Ullu Tau lodge on HB basis in twin rooms. 2 nights in a hotel in Cheget (HB/Twin rooms) and 2 nights are spent in the 'barrels' on Elbrus. These are basic mountain huts (4-5 people in a 5-bed hut). Food, whilst basic, is generally nourishing with meat (lamb) and borscht being the staple diet.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.