Mount Elbrus Facts
Mount Elbrus is, to those outside of the trekking and mountaineering world, relatively unknown. In fact, if you tell people that you're off to climb Mt Elbrus, they quite often look a bit shocked and say “Wow, Mt Everest!”
So, where is it? How high is it? How do you get there? Here’s a few Elbrus facts for you:
Where is Mt Elbrus?
Mt Elbrus is located in the Caucasus mountain range, which is in southern Russia, right on the border with Georgia.
How do I get to Mt Elbrus?
Most people will come via Moscow to Mineralnye Vody (MRV) by plane or overland overnight by train. It is also possible to arrive into MRV from Dubai on certain days of the week. From MRV it is 4 hours to the south side region or slightly longer to reach the north side base camp by road.
How tall is Mt Elbrus?
Mt Elbrus is 5642m tall, which makes it the highest mountain in Europe and in turn one of the 7 Summits.
The twin peaks of Mt Elbrus, with the higher Western Summit on the left and the lower Eastern summit on the right.
What are the 7 summits?
The 7 summits are the highest peak on each continent on our planet.
Why is Mt Elbrus classed as being in Europe if it’s in Russia?
The boundary between Asia and Europe can be defined in two different ways, either by the Kuma-Manych Depression, or by the Greater Caucasus watershed. If it is the former then Elbrus and the whole Caucasus range would lie inside the Asia continent, however the latter is generally agreed to be correct and therefore Mount Elbrus is the highest on the European continent.
Is Mt Elbrus easier than Kilimanjaro?
In short, they are hard to compare! Have a look at our Blog on comparing Kilimanjaro to the other 7 Summits. Essentially Mt Elbrus is lower than Kilimanjaro, but you are on snow throughout your climb and using crampons, axe and ropes so the terrain is more challenging, and you need more skill and physical capability, plus depending on which route you use, you will need cold weather survival skills.
Which side is tougher Mt Elbrus North route or the South route?
The terrain on both sides is similar however the north route needs more experience, ability, self-awareness, independence, and cold weather skills. The south route offers better infrastructure in terms of support and accommodation. It's important that you consider your ability with what you're getting into! This blog comparing Elbrus's north and south routes will give you a broader understanding! Also have a look at our Elbrus South route and Elbrus North route trip pages for specific details and differences.
What is the weather like on Mt Elbrus?
The main season for climbing is from mid-May through to mid-September. With the weather being most stable during June to August. Cold and wind are continual issues and you must prepare for them on Mount Elbrus, even in the height of the summer. Above the snow line temperatures can be minus 30 C and the wind can be very strong. A lot of problems are caused by storms rising during the day and groups caught out in bad visibility and people not having proper clothing.
Is Mt Elbrus and technical climb?
The ascent is a moderate non-technical snow climb that poses few technical challenges, but the weather and the altitude make this into a winter mountaineering challenge. You do need to use crampons with good mountaineering boots a harness and an axe, though these are for safety and not for hanging off precipitous drops or climbing up ice faces! There are objective dangers on both sides / routes of the mountain, small crevasses mainly, but as long as you stay on the route it is safe.
Is Mt Elbrus dangerous?
All mountains can be and on Elbrus the weather and altitude present the main issues as there are few objective dangers on the main climbing routes. The north side is more dangerous in terms of it being more remote and there is none of the infrastructures that you find on the south side. Statistically Elbrus represents a high number of fatalities when compared to the other Seven Summits, and the reason appears to be an underestimation of the challenge compared to the likes of Everest, Denali or Aconcagua. With such temperamental weather, ill-equipped and complacent groups (often without good guides) get caught out in low visibility, which has led to a lot of the accidents and in turn exposure, exhaustion and falls having come off the route.
Did you know……
that in ancient mythology that Mt Elbrus plays a significant and painful role for Prometheus who was chained to it by Zeus! This was a punishment for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mankind. Every day the eagles would peck out his heart, but each morning he would be restored, only to suffer the same fate! Even today as you spend time acclimatising around the mountain the Golden Eagles are easily spotted soaring above on the thermals.
Like to read some more? Check out our Mt Elbrus overview and routes pages by clicking here!