How achievable is Elbrus unguided?

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Re: How achievable is Elbrus unguided?

Postby polishruben » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:34 pm

hi Eds,

In 2008 , me and my friends organized Elbrus expedition, unguided and unsupported. It is perfectly doable, but prepare for the some adventures along the way.
On Elbrus, guides are absolutely not needed. If you want to spend your money, I would spend it on getting the permits and securing your stay at the barrels and above with a Russian based company. Besides that, it is pretty straight forward trip. US - Moscow - Mineralne Vody and then bus or taxi to the mountain.

Again, there is a red tape along the way ( usually paper work and bribing the cops along the way ). On the mountain the route is perfectly visible and marked with red flags. You cannot miss it, unless you get into a whiteout.. The lift takes you half way up there. It was a fun adventure :)!
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Re: How achievable is Elbrus unguided?

Postby benners » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:37 am

For reliable, up-to-date information on permits and other red tape issues, as well as info on climbing the peak, you should consider shooting a PM to my buddy Jon (ossie322 here on He lives in Nalchick (about an hour away from Elbrus) and has climbed the peak multiple times in the last two years. I'd imagine he'd be able to give you some good information seeing as he lives in the area full-time.

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Re: How achievable is Elbrus unguided?

Postby scheelt » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:41 pm

I climbed Elbrus from the North side in Jul 07. It is perfectly doable unguided. In fact, if I ever go back I will defiitely do it unguided. I went with pilgrim tours and can definitely recommend the lite package if you want to go unguided. Two warnings:

1. Be aware of glacier travel and crevasse rescue. While descending in a storm our guide, leading from the front, suddenly disappeared. One second she was in front of me, the next all there was was a hole where she had been standing. She fell through a previously unseen crevasse. Fortunately some of us had some experience and we were able to pull her out with out any issues. While pulling her out, though, another member of our party broke through the snow, but was able to catch himself on the edge and did not go in, though his pack went to the bottom. The rest of us crossed furhter down where the snow bridge was still solid but took additional precautions while crossing.

2. Pay attention to the weather. On summit day, we left at midnight and visibility was clear and a million. It remained that way until just before we reached the saddle when a storm moved in from the south (we could not see it coming). We were enveloped in a thick fog and blowing snow in less than 5 minutes. On our way back down the storm got worse when it began to lightning. There was so much static in the air that my sunglasses with plastic frames (perched on my hat because I had been wearing them before the storm hit) were humming. The humming would increase in pitch until the lightning came. And there is no place to take cover on the open glacier. Got to the point when I could recognize several seconds before the lightning would hit so we could duck. We were lucky!
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Re: How achievable is Elbrus unguided?

Postby jbchalk » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:49 am

Never underestimate the cold and weather on Elbrus:

Very sad news on such a young gal.

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