Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, the Russian Federation, near the border with Georgia. Mt. Elbrus’s peak is the highest in the Caucasus, in Russia. Elbrus has two summits both of which are dominant volcanic domes. Mt. Elbrus (west summit) stands at 5,642m (18,510ft) the east summit is slightly lower at 5,621 metres (18,442ft). I was on eastern top of Elbrus:) Great place at any time of the year for tourism, climbing and landscape photography!
Ushba is one of the most notable peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. It is located in the Svaneti region of Georgia, just south of the border with the Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia. Although it does not rank in the 10 highest peaks of the range, Ushba is known as the “Matterhornof the Caucasus” for its picturesque, spire-shaped double summit. Due to its steep profile and unstable weather, Ushba is considered by many climbers as the most difficult ascent in the Caucasus.
Ushba’s south summit is slightly higher than its north summit, which has an elevation of 4,690m (15,387ft).
Ushba’s north summit is more accessible than the south summit: the standard route, the Northeast Ridge, ascends from the Russian side of the range to a high plateau and thence to the summit. Hence a summit ascent on this route technically involves crossing the border. The route is graded French AD+ or Russian 4a.
It was my first trip to the Caucasus and to such high mountains also. For me has always been native the mountains of the Crimea, which so impressive for its beauty, but difficult to compare with the Caucasus – they are much bigger and greater.
I’m with the group was planned climbing Elbrus by common ascent route. That means that we can’t use the cable cars and or adjuvants, such as porters or horses. Therefore, we carry all of the load on itself, and its been quite a lot due to the fact that the expedition assumed complete self-contained life, that means, we had a base camp and tents, we cooked in a traveling kitchen. It was quite other-worldly lifestyle from all of the people.
As a starting point and a base camp we chose wood near the Terskol village at the foot of Mount Elbrus in Kabardino-Balkaria. Suitable place was near the stream, river and mineral spring water which is very useful for health. There are many aromatic and fresh berries grew not far away from our base camp, which undoubtedly adds flavour to our gruel and afternoon tea . We had a huge, roomy tent for 4 persons . The entrance was covered with tent of the same size, with the equipment and mobile kitchen in it. Even in the mountains it is essential to organize comfort rest place.
In the first days we equipping the camp and training by simple walk for acclimatization. All the climbers knows that not only a good physical preparation, but acclimatization is one of the conditions for a successful climbing to the peak of the mountain. All these days we did not climb above 3000 meters because it’s enough for the first time, as explained our instructor.
To make the work easier we left our equipment and food in the ice base. This will not only facilitate our final ascent to the peak, but will also provide additional acclimatization, because ice base is at an altitude of 3655 meters. There’s already quite cold enough and you can literally jump from the summer at foot, to the winter at peak. Leaving all that was brought in a secret place , we went down to the base camp . I mean to say that at that place I take a pretty nice shots. A felt of the height of these mountains and rocks is amazing, and the light at dawn and dusk behaves quite differently than in the lowlands. And it’s good to know that you get up in a morning to make shoot and eventually get beautiful shots.
We went down to our base camp in Terskol for 2 days rest. During this time, we went to the village, to buy some souvenirs, which mostly made from sheep’s wool, ceramics and simple magnets. I get familiar with local cuisine, particularly liked the lamb kebabs and red wine, whose name i can’t remembered . In general, it is a tourist place, but in the winter Mount Elbrus serves like ski resort, which has lifts and many hotels. Locals are very friendly and always glad to answer for your question. Besides climbing and winter extreme sports it is a nice and calm place to stay.
After 2 days, we went to the familiar Ice base, arranged the night and the next day, plunging all the equipment we moved on. Our path led through the glacier “Terskol” in full fog. Glacier itself has a lot of dangerous cracks , so here it is necessary to remember about safety equipment during traveling.
Crossing in the mist always seem infinitely long but nevertheless after about 4-5 hours, we heard the sounds of snow groomers and snowmobiles, that means that “Priyut 11” is near.
Among the rocks was not much space for a tent, it was occupied with other climbers. But we had a snow shovel, with which we have made for themselves a great place for a tent, smooth and protected from the wind. According to the weather forecast the next day promised to be clear and we decided that night to go to the peak, so after installing the camp we went to bed. At 1:00 am we were awakened by the alarm, and we decided to dress up slowly and drink tea with chocolate, which has a lot of energy. And certainly not without Ukrainian national product, such as ” fat”. We faced a serious work, so we had to eat it. At 2:00 we went out of the tent in the dark, it was around hundreds of stars and thread climbers with flashlights on the slopes of Mount Elbrus.
It is difficult to describe all the experience of climbing any mountain, it is necessary to feel by yourself. Despite the hurricane, which began at the moment when we came out, as it was the first serious mountain, we finally reached the peak of Mount Elbrus.
By all means try it by yourself!
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