Climb Mount Elbrus

Mount Elbrus is one of the Seven Summits and the highest mountain on the European continental plate and one of the most famous climbs in Russia. When you climb Mt Elbrus you can do so by two different routes and we offer climbs on both as well as a traverse of the mountain from North to South.

All of the expeditions include several days of acclimatization hikes in the region, mountain training plus a suitable climbing period to get to the summit. The trip totals eleven days for the South route and twelve days for the North and both routes require you to fly into and out of Mineralynye Vody in southern Russia.

For more information about our trips and logistics, see the text below our trip offerings.

About Aventure Alternative Expeditions on Mt Elbrus

Since we are an international mountain company you will find proper itineraries, with good acclimatization and excellent full-time guides and staff - we run our own company in Russia and don't outsource our clients. Only too often you find short itineraries and overworked and underpaid staff on Mt Elbrus. This is one of the reasons why we don't run hundreds of trips on the peak. We also have an office in Moscow and our manager there, Andrey, can organize any tours, hotels, show tickets etc for you. He can also do the same for St Petersburg.

About Mt Elbrus

When most people think of the highest mountain in Europe, their thoughts likely turn to Mt Blanc in France. However, Mt Elbrus in Russia takes the prize at 5,642. Situated in the rugged Great Caucasus mountains, this mountain is actually a dormant volcano. As one of the Seven Summits, this mountain offers spectacular views as Europe’s highest point.

The mountain has two summits, a west and east summit, with a gentle saddle in between them. The true, tallest summit is off to the west is the taller, true high point in Europe. 

elbrus preparation.jpg

 The snowcapped summit of Mt Elbrus.

There are two routes up the mountain, the North and South. The South is far more popular than the North Route, boasting a wide array of infrastructure, including a chairlift to haul equipment. The north, on the other hand, provides more of a traditional mountaineering feel, with self-supported tented camps. We offer trips up Mt Elbrus from May through September. July typically has the most stable weather.

Acclimatization on Mt Elbrus

At Adventure Alternative, we take acclimatization seriously. For our Elbrus itineraries, we take a few extra days upon arrival in the Elbrus region to go on acclimatization hikes. Enjoy the comforts of a hotel, complete with relaxing Russian saunas to relax muscles after a day of alpine walking at around 11,000 feet along the South Route, or the simple tent life along the more remote North Route. Once acclimatized, we will begin our summit attempt.

Climbing the South Route of Mount Elbrus

The highly-popular South Route of Mount Elbrus provides an excellent training ground for those looking to gain experience with snow climbing. There is a vast infrastructure on this route. A ski lift carries all of the heavier gear and you will travel with a daypack. The ascent itself requires basic mountaineering skills, which we are more than happy to teach you on your trip.

elbrus south accommodation - Barrels..jpg

A look at the infrastructure along Mt Elbrus's South Route. Notice the windswept summit in the background.

However, don’t let the crowds and infrastructure fool you. This is still a demanding climb. Unpredictable weather and altitude make for a challenging excursion. Summit day is a long and demanding endeavor. The climb often starts around 3am and can last anywhere between nine to 12 hours.

Climbing the North Route up Mount Elbrus

For those who have a bit more mountaineering experience and are seeking a more traditional climbing experience, the North Route on Mount Elbrus is the way to go. Without the infrastructure of the South Route, the north side of the mountain is a more challenging climb. Camps are predominately tented and climbers are responsible for carrying all of their own gear. Snow climbing experience is recommended on this route, however, like the South Route, we are certainly excited to teach you the required skills.

Mount Elbrus North Route

Tented camps along the North Route

The North Route on Mount Elbrus is a long, steady climb. Although it is relatively straightforward, like the south, Mt Elbrus is still a dangerous mountain. Low temperatures, variable weather, and the altitude add some spice to this climb.

Traversing the North and South Summits of Mt Elbrus

If you simply can’t decide which route is right for you, or you want to experience the feel of both routes, consider the Mount Elbrus Traverse. This is our most challenging route that requires the highest level of physical fitness of any of our Elbrus climbs. You will need to carry more equipment for your climb.

Mount Elbrus shadow

The stunning summit shadow of Mt Elbrus greets a new day.

The route begins climbing the North Route and descends via the South Route. On the final summit push, we will stash our heavy packs for our summit bid, then return to them for our descent.

Food on the Climb

In hotels and cafes off of the mountain, you can order staple foods such as Solyanka or Vorscht, various delicious homemade breads, pancakes with various fillings, Shashlyk or skewered lamb roasted on charcoal and Sturgeon. Meals are often paired with local wines, vodka, beer or sodas.


A traditional Russian dinner.

Food on the mountain is prepared by our camp cook. We carry our own food with us on the North route and use a large gas stove for cooking delicious group meals. If you have any dietary restrictions, we are happy to cater to your needs.

Kit Required to Climb up Mount Elbrus

Come prepared to deal with the variable, cold weather. Layer properly in order to regulate your temperature on the mountain. A down puffy layer, along with base layers and a Gore-Tex quality shell are required items. Other articles related to camping, such as water bottles, gaiters, water purification methods, sleeping bag, trekking poles and dry bags are also required.

elbrus south accommodation.jpg

Accommodation on the South Route. The team is drying their layers in one of the huts.

Footwear is arguably the single most important piece of gear on the mountain. Having properly broken-in trekking and mountaineering boots are essential. It’s also a good idea to bring sandals for lodges and lower elevation camps.

Mountaineering-specific gear is also required for this climb. Plastic mountaineering boots, ice axe, crampons, sling, carabiners, and an axe leash are some of the items required. Understand how to properly fit crampons, and make sure your crampons will fit your boots prior to arrival. One option for mountaineering gear is to rent it, either in your home country or locally in Russia. Rented gear should fit and perform correctly.


Mount Elbrus South Route (1)

A team of climbers is off at dawn for their summit bid via the South Route. 

If you would like to chat about route choice, the best times to climb Mt Elbrus, kit required for the climb or if you have any other questions please feel free to call us or drop us an email. 


Mount Elbrus altitude profiles


Mount Elbrus south altitude profile


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Mount Elbrus north altitude profile


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Elbrus books and maps

Altitude and it's Effects

Travel at High Altitude, Medex, ISBN 0-901100-76-5 (free to download from Medex)
Altitude Illness: Prevention & Treatment, The Mountaineers Books, Bezruchka, ISBN 0-89886-685-5 (pocket sized guide)
Medicine for Mountaineering, The Mountaineers Books, Wilkerson et al, ISBN-10: 1594850763, ISBN-13: 978-1594850769

British Mountaineering Council website
International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) website

Elbrus Region Guides

The Mount Elbruz Region, West Col Productions, ISBN-10: 0906227526, ISBN-13: 978-0906227527
Trekking in the Caucasus, Cicerone, ISBN-10: 185284129X, ISBN-13: 978-1852841294
Trekking in Russia and Central Asia: A Traveller's Guide, Mountaineers Books, ISBN-10: 0898863554, ISBN-13: 978-0898863550
Russia, Lonely Planet, ISBN-10: 1741047226, ISBN-13: 978-1741047226


Elbrus, 1:50,000, Climbing Map, ISBN 13: 9783952329436
Elbrus, 1:50,000, Russian Army Cartographic Unit,
Elbrus and Environs, 1:100,000, Russian Army Cartographic Unit,
Mount Elbrus, various scales, West Col Productions
Caucasus Central: Elbruz to Kazbek 1:200,000, West Col Productions, ISBN 10: 0906227542, ISBN 13: 9780906227541

Climbing and Mountaineering

Travels in the central Caucasus and Bashan, Freshfield, BiblioBazaar, ISBN-10: 1117959651, ISBN-13: 978-1117959658
My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus, Mummery, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN-10: 0543890430, ISBN-13: 978-0543890436
Climbing in the Caucasus - A Collection of Historical Mountaineering Articles, Read Books, ISBN-10: 1447408470, ISBN-13: 978-1447408475
The Caucasus: An Introduction, de Waal, OUP USA, ISBN-10: 0195399773, ISBN-13: 978-0195399776
As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me, Bauer, Robinson, ISBN-10: 1841197262, ISBN-13: 978-1841197265
Seven Summits, Bass, Gramercy Books, ISBN-10: 0517227509, ISBN-13: 978-0517227503