Mount Elbrus Information
The Caucasus Mountains rise between the great plains of Russia and the mountainous territories of Trans-Caucasian. They extend for 1200 km from East to West, between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. The mountain system includes dozens of peaks over 4000 meters high and about 2000 glaciers.
Prielbrusie or the area around Mt. Elbrus is the most frequented area in the Central Caucasus. Many valleys converge in the main valley where the Baksan River flows, and lead to the most famous and beautiful mountains in the Caucasus range, such as Mt. Donguz-Orun (4468 m), Mt. Shkhelda (4320 m), Mt. Chatin (4368 m), the legendary Mt. Ushba (4710 m), and Mt. Elbrus itself (5642 m), the highest peak in Europe.
Mount Elbrus dominates the countryside of the Central Caucasus like a twin-peaked icy giant. The two peaks correspond to two different volcano vents: the western peak (Zapadnaya) is the tallest one, while the eastern peak (Vostochnaya), 5621 meters high, still has a gigantic crater 250 meters in diameter. The entire mountain is covered by an immense sheet of ice that takes up 145 square kilometres and in some zones is 400 meters thick. From the col that divides the two peaks the white slopes of the mountain descend gently, splitting up into tongues of ice and crevasses lying in the many striking valleys that radiate from the mountain. A circular lava massif, it has a diameter of 18 kilometres and more than 70 large and small glaciers flow from its slopes.
Neither summit is technically difficult and even though you could ascend from a variety of directions, few venture from the standard route up the West Peak which utilises the cable cars up to the Garabashi Barrels (3800m). Other routes on the south side would attract access difficulties and extensive crevassed areas which would make them very difficult propositions. The other route on the north side is also very feasible and we do several trips a year on that side, although it requires more self-sufficiency and is more remote.