Mount Elbrus North route

The North route of Mount Elbrus is more remote and more committing than the South route as it has less in the way of infrastructure on the lower reaches of the mountain. However, this reduction in facilties is balanced by the lack of human intrusion onto the landscape. There is little in the way of mechanical support, and the trip is mostly camping, and the summit route is harder than the south side, being longer and involving an interim camp at 4600 metres (if the weather allows) which requires winter camping skills and good teamwork.

With an elevation of 5642 metres, Mount Elbrus is a fine ascent which requires mountaineering skills, although altitude and unpredictable weather make for a challenging and adventurous trip. It is perfect for people who wish to gain ice and snow experience as full training is given, for those wishing to climb the Seven Summits and for people who have aspirations of going on to climb higher peaks in the Himalayas and S. America.

This expedition lasts thirteen days including travel and allows for travel days, several days of acclimatisation hikes in the stunning valleys and a five day climbing period on Europe’s highest peak. Climbs of Mount Elbrus on the northern side are more challenging and deemed a purer mountaineering experience compared to the traditional southern route. This is due to the climb being more remote and a greater need of self sufficiency. 

Mount Elbrus stands between the great masses of Europe and Asia, dynamic in both region and terrain. It presents a strenuous and rewarding climb, but also includes a full experience of Russian culture, history and character. The ascent of Mt Elbrus by the north route is a long climb over a moderate incline (average 35 degrees, with some sections on the summit day increasing to 40 degrees) that requires good acclimatization but present few technical difficulties. However, despite the apparent simplicity of this route, it can be dangerous. The altitude, variable weather, and often low temperatures can transform the ascent into a real mountain adventure!

Groups are normally around ten in number, and on this route we use a ratio of 1 guide to three members, plus some porters to help move gear up to the high camp ( a hut) and then onto the final camp at Lenz Rocks (if the weather allows; if not, then the summit bid starts from the hut, which means a very long summit day of around ten hours).

Mount Elbrus Accommodation

Om arrival we stay at the Intourist hotel in Pyatigorsk which is about half an hour from the airport. On the mountain we sleep in tents at base camp and stay in a hut at the high camp and then camp again on the snow at Lenz Rocks. At base camp there is water nearby, tented toilets, a mess tent and some good facilities. The drive is partly on road and part off road with the last section involving crossing a river. We use two man tents but you will need to bring your own sleeping mats. 

At the high camp there are two huts, one for eating and one for sleeping. They are quite basic but dry enough, and again you will need your sleeping mat. There are some drop toilets and a glacial lake for water nearby. 

The highest camp at Lenz Rocks is snow covered and quite exposed (see video below), although we look for a spot behind a cluster of rocks which provides some protection from the wind. The tents need to be put up by yourselves and everyone is responsible for their own meals. We provide the food items and stoves with some gas but each tent team much prepare their own soup, tea and main meals. This will be important to ensure good energy for summit day. 

Food on the Elbrus trip

In the hotel and cafes you can sample traditional soups and stews like Borscht (meat or vegetable) or Salyanka, home made breads or hichiny (cheese bread), salads, and delicacies such as shashlyk (skewered lamb roasted on a charcoal fire), fried sturgeon, pancakes made with different fillings, fruit and vegetables. It is very wholesome and accompanied of course with vodka, local wines, beer or soft drinks.

On the mountain we provide a cook who prepares all the food for our groups and we carry our food with us and cook on a large gas stove. Tinned meat is best and we prepare stews, salads, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, bread, hot drinks, porridge (kasha), eggs, dried meats like salami and dried fruits with sweets, fresh milk, juice and local produce.

If you have any dietary restrictions do let us know so we can cater for your needs.

Mount Elbrus Adventure Alternative support

The expedition is fully catered for you. We also provide lessons and practical training in the safe use of ice axes and crampons and personal movement skills on snow and ice. Our trip organiser will provide all logistical preparation during the trip, from hotels to meals and booking of all facilities. He will also be your translator and help you with local knowledge of flora and fauna.

Before the trip you will have access to experienced guides in the office who have climbed Elbrus many times and can offer practical advice on everything, such as kit which you might want to use for future trips to the Greater Ranges. We guide all of the Seven Summits so this expertise is invaluable.

We provide full support prior to the trip for your visa application and flight process, and we ensure that you will be met and picked up in Mineralnye Vody for the journey to the mountain. Our staff in Russia have many years of experience working with foreign groups and in 13 years we have never had to cancel a trip. Safety is our number one priority.

We provide financial protection for your money.

Is Mount Elbrus Right for Me?

Climbing Mount Elbrus is a rewarding experience and with that experience comes a few surprises. Russia can be an unpredictable space. Our Guide Sasha an Andrey in Moscow will be our points of contact when it comes to dealing with the authorities. It's a delicate dance, that often leaves you feeling like nothing is happening. However, there is an unspoken process that our guides are very familiar with when it comes to dealing with Russian authorities. It is not uncommon for authorities in tiny towns to ask for papers and this process can seem tedious to those not familiar with the situation. We ask you to let our experts handle the situation and please be patient if and when things need to get sorted out. 

For more information about life on a mountain, check out our mountain preparation page.

Dates & Bookings

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Mount Elbrus North route itinerary

DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
1 320m 2.5 hrs Arrive into Mineralnye Vody, arriving in the morning or lunchtime. On arrival at MRV you will meet the Adventure Alternative team and transfer to a hotel in the local town of Pyatigorsk. We use the Intourist Hotel. Pick up any rented gear, and sightseeing in the city.
2 2250m 6 hrs Early departure for a four hour drive to base camp at the foot of Elbrus. The first part is by asphalt road then the second by dirt track in all-terrain vehicles. Camping. In afternoon possibility of acclimatisation walk to Mushroom Rocks (3500m).
3, 4, 5, 2500m - 3800m 4 hrs Acclimatisation walks in the area of basecamp exploring the volcanic landscape of lava sculptures, and making carries up to the high camp (hut) at 3800 metres. There should be time here for a rest day to visit the energising springs which are famous in this area and see some amazing waterfalls. Every night camping at base camp, where there is a mess tent for eating.
6, 7 3800m - 4600m 5 hrs Move to the high camp (hut) and make an acclimatisation hike up to Lenz Rocks (4600m) and deposit gear (tents, food, gas, stoves and pots). Sleep at the hut.
8, 9 3800m - 5642m 6 - 12 hours Move to Lenz Rocks for overnight and next morning go to summit and come back to a) Lenz Rocks for another overnight, or b) all the way back to the hut (this depends on timing and weather. The other option, if the weather does not allow a camp at Lenz Rocks, is to use these two days to summit the West Peak all the way from the hut. This is a longer option and undeniably harder in terms of strength required, but it is possible. If you leave from Lenz Rocks, the start time is about 6am, if you leave from the hut the start time is about 1am.
10 3800m - 2500m 3 hours Move everybody and all gear back to base camp for rest and celebration dinner
11   4 hours Drive to Pyatigorsk to hotel. Sightseeing and dinner.
12     Travel day. Drive to Min Vody airport (45 minutes), fly to Moscow and then home, or stay in Moscow for a few days.

Dates: Aim to arrive in Mineralnye Vody on the morning of Day 1 (the advertised date hence you will depart from home the day before the advertised date). Most flights go via Moscow, enabling you to catch an overnight flight to Moscow and then a morning flight from Moscow to MRV. For the return, book a flight from Min Vody around lunchtime or early afternoon in order to make the link with the international flight back home.

Trip Extension: Since most flights go via Moscow it is possible to spend some time in the city before or after the trip. Andrey Panin in Moscow can organise airport pick-ups, hotel bookings, local tours or bookings for any shows you may like to see. Have a look at Moscow Weekend for further details.

Climbing Period: The itinerary below allows a five day climbing period on the mountain above base camp. If the weather is favourable, there may be two summit attempts but the decision will be made by the guides, depending on normal mountaineering decisions and the ability of the group. In reality the summit day on the north side is much harder than on the south side and therefore in all likelihood only one attempt is possible because the first attempt would be exhausting.

Good times for climbing Mt Elbrus are from June through to August, with perhaps the best month for stable weather being July. Each trip is 12 days unless you have opted for the 8 day trip and we can also organise a stopover in Moscow if you wish. We provide all the accommodation, food and logistics for this trip, and there are no kitties or hidden extras. You only need money for some drinks in the hotel and souvenirs.

Please see the Route tab for a lot more information on the terrain and what to expect on this climb. 


Mount Elbrus North Route cost £1,895.00


  • Visa application papers (please note that some nationalities are charged an additional amount for travel papers)
  • Municipal registration
  • Intourist hotel in Pyatigrosk - twin room for two nights
  • Road transfer to basecamp
  • National Park fees
  • All meals on the mountain and our own cook
  • Staff: Sasha Lebedev and other local guides, cook and administrator in Moscow.
  • Accommodation in the top hut
  • Camping equipment


  • Flights - to Mineralnye Vody
  • Russian Visa - £85 - £110 (depends on speed of delivery, nationality & postage return option). Please also note that nowadays if you are applying for your visa in the UK, or as a UK national you are required to appear in person at the visa office (located in London, Edinburgh or Manchester) in order to provide fingerprints, so there is an additional cost of travel to the visa office.
  • Some consulates (usually Middle-Eastern & Eastern) require original visa travel papers. The cost of sending these by courier is not covered.
  • Some nationalities are charged an additional premium for their travel papers which is not included (details below)
  • Travel insurance estimate £75
  • Personal expenses estimate £50/65 for drinks and souvenirs
  • Equipment hire
  • Single room supplement - £80

Cost of Mount Elbrus equipment hire

  • Crampons: £20.00 per trip
    Black Diamond Contact Strap lightweight crampons - C1 articulated and flexible attached with simple straps. These Crampons have 10 points, two front and 8 at the backside.
  • Walking Axe: £20.00 per trip
    60 cm walking axes with basic adze and a straight pick predominantly used to arrest a fall in the event of a slip.

Visa & Visa support papers:

The visa process is relatively easy and generally happens in 3 stages:
1) 6 weeks prior to entry we apply for your visa support papers (invitation letter and voucher) and to do so we need a photo of your passport ID page and your flight details
2) 5 1/2 weeks prior to entry we email your papers and a guideline for applying for your visa
3) You apply for your visa through your local Russian Visa office

Visa Support Papers - possible extra costs:

The cost for producing the visa support papers is included in the trip fee, however for some nationalities the producers charge an extra premium, which is not included in the trip fee. This extra fee usually applies to Asian, African and Arabian passport holders and is currently $100. 

The majority of Russian visa offices around the globe are happy to accept a digital pdf / print out of your visa support papers, however occasionally some will request the original copies. If this is the case then they will need to be sent by courier to you and this cost is not covered in the trip fee.

In 2016 it was made mandatory that tourists coming from the UK, Denmark, Myanmar or Namibia must visit the Visa application centre in person to apply for the Russian Visa as they have started to collect biometric data of foreign nationals (finger prints). If you are applying for your visa in the UK this means that you will need to go to the London, Manchester or Edinburgh Visa office in person. In other countries can usually do everything by post / mail.


A deposit of £100 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 6 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. We make payments as flexible as possible and you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.

Not all about money

Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, professional service and security. We know that many people hate to arrive into a country and be surprised by hidden costs or find that essential trip elements have not been included in the expedition fee , so we offer a comprehensive expedition with no hidden fees or kitties. All food, land travel, accommodation, park fees, staff fees are included. The only thing you need to pay for on the ground is items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and drinks.

Additionally our itinerary is long enough to give excellent acclimatisation and two summit attempts, less days are dangerous for a peak just short of 6000 metres (equivalent to Camp 1 on Mount Everest). Reducing the number of days may make the price cheaper but the chances of summiting reduce to around 25% and it is potentially dangerous. We also aim to camp at 4600 metres, which involves the use of more staff and local porters, because trying to summit from the hut involves a 2000m ascent in one day, which brings the success rate down and is very difficult. This camp at Lenz Rocks essentially splits the summit journey into two, and is a great experience in itself.

We are well aware of other companies which offer Elbrus at a cheaper price, but we cannot condone paying our guides less than what they deserve and in accordance with European rates of pay for International Mountain Leaders. The north side of Elbrus is a challenging expedition and requires good mountain decision-making, determination and experience; we believe these are skills worth paying for, and this is borne out by the quality of our staff and the enjoyment of the trip. Additionally we train our staff in risk assessment procedures common to mountain trips assessed by the British Standards 8848 criteria, and we work hard to invest in this standard.


We advise you to take out your insurance as soon as possible to cover potential events that might cause you to cancel your trip. Because Elbrus is in a region which has an FCO warning against all but essential travel you may find that your normal policy is void.

We advise clients from Europe to buy their insurance for Mt Elbrus from Campbell Irvine Specialists. If you are outside of Europe you may need to research a local provider or contact us for details.

You need to ensure that you have a policy which covers trekking to high altitude, but it does not need to cover technical climbing. You should bring with you a copy of your policy and ensure that other people knows where you keep it. It is also worth bringing a photocopy of your passport and to keep it separate to your own documents just in case you lose your passport. 


Mount Elbrus north route - experience and terrain

The summit route is a long ascent over a moderate incline that requires good acclimatization but has no technical difficulties. However, despite the apparent simplicity of this route, it can be dangerous. The altitude, variable weather, frequent violent storms and low temperature transforms the ascent into a high altitude mountain challenge.

The average time can be twelve hours for the summit day from the top hut and about six hours ascent from the camp at Lenz Rocks. The route heads towards the Saddle between the two peaks and then follows the normal route on a rising traverse with an average gradient of 38 degrees (occasionally exposed) and then across the large summit plateau to the summit. The descent is about about four hours to the Lenz Rocks camp, and a further hour and half to the top hut. Crampons and poles (or walking axes) are necessary for this climb.

There are a few crevasses around the Lenz Rocks which can be quite wide depending on the time of season and local conditions, but they are largely visible. Other objective dangers on the route are the exposure to cold and wind, and the weather is very temperamental and visibility can drop rapidly. It is important to be well equipped and experienced in the use of your equipment, and to be confident in the prevention of cold weather injuries.

Camps used on Mount Elbrus north route

Elevation of main huts and points
Base Camp     2250m  (camping near a river)
High Camp     3800m   (there are several huts)
Lenz Rocks     4600m   (exposed camping)
Saddle           5300m  
West Summit  5642m

Experience needed for Mount Elbrus north route

It is highly beneficial to have experience of moving on snow and ice for this trip to the north route of Mount Elbrus but we do provide on-site training in basic alpine skills such as moving on crampons and self arrest before the summit day. This trip tends to attract a wide range of abilities, from people with Seven Summits aspirations, to experienced hill walkers wanting to try a snow covered mountain. It is not suitable for people with no experience on snow or camping on snow or camping at altitude. 

Predominantly the experience which is useful include personal confidence moving on snow wearing crampons, understanding of layering and personal climate, handling a slip, being familiar with all the equipment and working in a team. For the north side, where there is less infrastructure and a higher reliance on self-management, we prefer that the people who apply have experience in alpine walking and winter camping.

Elbrus is often sold as a walking holiday, but it is a big mountain that requires a mountaineering approach to ensure safety and success and enjoyment. A good preparation would be to do a winter hillwalking course in Scotland or an alpine skills course in the Alps, but this is not mandatory to join the trip. We would ask that people apply common sense to their decision to climb the mountain and not make any comparisons to Kilimanjaro. This is a lower peak but it is colder and it requires more care moving over permanent snow covered slopes which are glaciated and occasionally crevassed, and it is therefore more tiring mentally and physically. Even though the normal route is clear and safe, the mentality towards experience has to be focused on winter skills.

Our trip to Mt Elbrus promotes good mountaineering practises for an enjoyable trip, a memorable holiday and one that may lead in the future to more mountain adventures. Our programme is safety-conscious and our staff purposeful in teaching you about issues like altitude sickness, and what it actually means. Most worries are borne of ignorance; but with knowledge comes calm, and with that calm comes the ability to prepare mentally and to prevent unnecessary stress.

Mount Elbrus north side route tips

Travel and base camp – the transport to base camp is in ex army 4x4 vehicles, very sturdy for the off road section which includes crossing a small river. From the hotel it will take about four or five hours to reach base camp, which is near to a stream and in open ground. There are lots of cows! The campsite is enclosed by a fence but it’s a temporary camp. There are toilets and mess tents for eating, and sleeping tents and the whole site normally has about 40 people there at any one time. It’s very pleasant in sunny weather and Sasha will probably take you to visit the hot springs nearby.
The top hut – this is a metal structure right on the snowline. The route is quite easy but starts from the grassy fields at base camp and ends up on snow and ice. So be prepared with crampons, warm hat, gloves, windproofs and boots. Initially the route is a walk up through some side valleys and then a zigzagged path which climbs steeply to a rocky plateau. From here the path continues on scree and rock for quite some time, and the wind can really pick up. There can be snow and ice, so keep together and don’t forget to eat! The final section to the hut is on snow and can be quite slippery from other people coming and going, be really careful and wear crampons if necessary. A pole will be very useful. The hut itself is pretty basic but dry and warm and there are fantastic views of the mountain from here. There’s a glacial lake nearby for water, and there are toilets which are long drops.
Lenz Rocks campsite – this is a high campsite set amidst some rocks at about 4600 metres. If the weather is good enough then the team can camp here for the night before going for the summit, but if the weather is bad then Sasha will suggest leaving for the summit from the top hut. It makes for a longer day and a tougher day, but camping on the ice at high altitude in a gale is difficult. We will look for a wind speed of less than 25 mph before allowing the camping at Lenz Rocks, otherwise in our experience it becomes too difficult. For people with little experience camping high in bad weather, it can be frightening. Do make sure you bring camping stuff with you though – sleeping mat, bowl, cup.
To camp or not - The decision about whether to camp is a tricky one. A lot of gear has to be carried up to this height which uses up energy, but on the other hand it’s a shorter summit day. Much depends on the weather, the group, the wind speed, snow conditions and so on. The guide will make the call on this finally. There are pros and cons, it’s not just a case of things being easier because you start higher. Some people have a very sleepless night in the tent and don’t cook properly and don’t rehydrate, so the summit day begins on a bad note. Having said that, starting from the hut is psychologically demanding because it’s a long way to the top, nearly 1900 metres. The weather dictates pretty much everything as ever, and any decision is always going to be a compromise, but be open to what happens and do discuss with Sasha.
Group splitting on summit day – this does happen and for all the usual reasons of tiredness and dehydration. In this case Sasha can manage for some people to come down with a guide, but obviously not multiple groups which use up the guides. We operate the trip from a team point of view so we try to give everyone a chance, but if some people need to come down on summit morning then best that a small group come down leaving the potential summit team with enough guides to get to the top and back again safely. Again, the guide makes the call. Sometimes there are very strong climbers in the group who almost can become assistant guides, in other cases the group needs additional assistance. Sasha will make his decisions based primarily on safety.
Summit times and route - If you go for the summit from the top hut the day will be twelve hours long and it will be necessary to leave the hut very early, perhaps 2am. If you leave from Lenz Rocks then the day will be perhaps 9 hours long and you can leave at 5am, but the tents and gear all need taking down with you on the descent.
The route from the top hut to Lenz Rocks is very simple, a direct route up a very large open slope of easy gradient. Around the rocks the gradient increases a little bit, but no more than about 25 degrees. From the Lenz Rocks the route hugs the rocks which extend up the mountain, and the path is often zigzagged. Some people make a beeline directly for the Saddle which you will be able to see, but this route can hide crevasses so it depends on the season. Generally we go straight up towards the east peak and it’s a long way until the gradient levels off to almost being flat and you’re in the Saddle.
The Saddle is huge, it will take forty minutes to go from one side to the other at least. You will see the orange rescue hut in the middle and then head towards the West peak and pick up the main trail from the south side. Immediately you will see signs of more people, bamboo marker posts and great views over the whole Caucasus range.
The route now turns more steeply up the side of the western peak and this section is the most exposed. There are fixed lines to clip into. Expect to take at least an hour to reach the summit plateau. From here the summit is on the other side of the plateau and takes another half hour or forty minutes.
Fixed line - The west summit route to the plateau now has a fixed line in place for added safety. This means that you can clip in very easily, and be held in the event of a slip on that section which is the steepest on the mountain. It's also potentially icy. To clip in you will need your harness and a sling and two screwgate karabiners. Use one karabiner to attach the sling to your harness, and use the other karabiner to attach the sling to the fixed line. When you come to an anchor point on the fixed line make sure you are safe and stable, and then move the karabiner across the anchor and screw it shut again. It’s a simple safety system but you will also need your walking axe and pole for support. If the ground is icy then use your crampons, if it is soft snow then do not wear crampons because they will fill with snow and become mini skis. Be careful because halfway up the route the ground changes and just below the lip to the summit plateau you will find the ground harder, with ice on rock. Make sure your crampons are handy just in case.
Descent – the descent route is the same as the ascent. Please stick together unless the guides allow for the team to split up. Nobody will be left alone, but the guides must work out their logistics. Obviously tiredness is the biggest issue, but also the weather always comes during the afternoon so expect visibility to be less and for the weather to be generally worse. Keep going slowly and remember if you are wearing crampons not to trip yourself up, easily done if you are tired. It’s possible to get down the Rocks in a few hours and then a further hour to the hut again. Don’t forget your headtorches, lots of snacks, camera and spare warm gear and liquid for the summit day and descent. You will definitely need a big feed for coming down.
Decisions – Sasha will make his decisions discussing with the other russian guides and taking into account all the factors. He may not communicate this to you precisely and this is a problem of communication, not because you are being ignored. People like to know what is happening so feel free to always ask, but be patient with the language barrier even though Sasha does speak good English. On summit day there might not be that much chat, and Russian guides are not known for their loquaciousness! But read up beforehand and get a map and do as much research beforehand as you can. There is a complete film of the north side trip on our website plus lots of information pages which will help prepare you for this challenging trip.
One of the negative comments we get from this trip is the language problem between group members and some of the guides who do not speak much English, and also the cultural gap that arises when the Russian guides are not very communicative about what is happening. Sasha Lebedev speaks good English and is very communicative but I would advise you to ask questions rather than wait to be told. The other Russian guides will be very good at their job and at knowing the mountain, but their natural reticence means that some people get frustrated, especially when the weather gets bad and decisions have to be made about continuing up or going down or splitting the group. The Russians have done this many times before and are well versed in how to manage such scenarios but there is no doubt that members used to collaborative, communicative feedback do feel frustrated. I can only suggest that you question Sasha as much as possible and always ask him to explain what is happening and ask him to tell the other Russian guides to do the same as best as they can.

Kit List

Mount Elbrus North route kit list

The clothing and equipment that you take on a climb of Mt Elbrus can make a huge difference to your entire mountain experience and also ensure your safety and enjoyment of the climb. We run climbs from early June through to early September, which is the most stable time of year, however at any time of year Elbrus can have challenging and extreme climatic events that require you to have good and proper mountain clothing at hand. It is very possible to summit in a fleece jacket and hat, however it's also just as possible to summit in full down jacket, goggles and mitts! Therefore you need to be prepared for the worst possible conditions and especially if you are tackling the summit from the North route.

If you were to go out and buy all of this kit it would be expensive but an investment if you plan on more peaks in the future. Most people aren't sure of future plans as yet so it's cheaper to hire the kit and equipment needed either from us, or from local shops when you're in Russia, or from home (down jacket, boots, axe, crampons, harness etc).

Kit lists can be ambiguous - what one person regards as a 'mountain' mitt, another wouldn't. If you have any questions about kit please do email or call us. You will find lot's of information below and also under the 'More Information' section, which can be found on the lower right hand side of this page. In the 'More Information' you will also find guides to boots, crampons and sleeping bags.

  • Thermal base layer - top and bottom
  • Fleece pants or warm trousers
  • Midlayer fleece tops (polartec 200)
  • Fleece jacket (heavy pile, or good quality soft shell with hood)
  • Down jacket with hood (good quality climbing down jacket, not a fashion model)
  • Shell trousers and jacket with hood
  • Trekking clothes (shirts, trousers, shorts, jumpers)
  • Sunhat and warm hat (good quality warm hat for summit day)
  • Balaclava or neckwarmer/buff
  • Headtorch, with spare batteries for the summit morning
  • Sunglasses (100% UV)
  • Goggles or sunglasses with protective edges
  • Walking boots
  • Plastic mountain boots or good quality hybrids. These must be of good quality 'double boot' standard which take crampons
  • Harness, 120cm sling and 2 karabiners (screwgate)
  • Gaiters
  • Socks - trekking socks and several pairs of heavy duty mountain socks
  • Crampons - 10 or 12 point
  • Fleece gloves, several pairs
  • Mitts - waterproof and windproof and warm
  • Main bag - rucksack of about 75 litres
  • Day sack for treks and summit (35-45 litre is adequate)
  • Sleeping bag - 4 season is best for high camp and Lenz Rocks, but it will be hot to sleep in at base camp, so bring a liner! 
  • Sleeping mat for camping at Lenz Rocks - inflatable one or closed cell mat are both fine
  • Water bottles and flask. Bottles for low levels, flask for hot drinks at high levels. 
  • Sun and lipscreen (SPF 30)
  • Personal first aid
  • Trekking poles
  • Dry bags
  • Travel Clothes - you can leave these at base camp in a bag

Additional Kit Information

Boots - this climb requires plastic mountaineering boots but a high quality hybrid boot will be adequate. If you are renting then make sure there is some movement for your foot since it will swell slightly at altitude. You can take normal hiking boots for the acclimatisation treks but once on snow you will need to have good quality warm 'double' mountain boots. Please call us to discuss options if you are planning to buy a new pair, and take into account what you will be using the boots for in the future. 

Mitts - a good pair of waterproof, lined mountain mitts will protect against cold hands, and it is a good idea to wear a pair of liner gloves inside.

Down jacket - You need a good quality warm jacket. Ski jackets are not really acceptable since they do not breathe. Down jackets should be mountain quality with a hood and preferably long enough to cover the backside. 

Warm hat - should have ear flaps if possible and be fleece lined or woollen. You might want to take a lightweight beanie and a thicker fleece hat to put on top if it gets cold. 

Socks  - take heavy socks for the summit days and trekking socks for the walks.

Rucksack - you will be doing some carries of kit from base camp to high camp/hut so a 75 litre sack will be useful. If the weather allows you to camp at Lenz Rocks then you will need to use the larger rucksack to carry gear up like tents, food and stoves. In which case it is possible to do the carry of heavy gear the day before and then take the large rucksack the next day with the day packed lashed to the outside. Leave the big pack in the tent on summit day and use the day pack. When you come down you can put everything back in the big rucksack. 

Day sack - this should be around 40 litres for day hikes and the summit day. 

Water bottles and a thermos flask for summit day, note that the bladders tend to freeze up easily. If you don't have a thermos then take insulated covers for your water bottle, since you will want to put hot liquid in it. The bladders can't be used early in the morning on summit day but sometimes they have melted enough to use on the descent. You will need to carry up to two litres of liquid with you. Liquid intake should increase to at least 3 litres per day, which includes soups, tea/coffee, water, juice. 

Trekking poles are very useful although more experienced people may prefer to use one pole and a walking axe. We like people to take a walking axe if only to spend time learning how to use it properly for future trips. A big part of this trip is learning skills. Furthermore, if there is a section of icy ground then an axe will be of more benefit than a pole. 

Sleeping bag - tents at base camp are normally quite warm while at the top hut and camping on the snow it can be cold. It is best to opt for warmth - 4 season bag - and put up with being warm at base camp. You could lay the sleeping bag over you at base camp or take a lightweight liner and use your sleeping bag as a blanket. 

You can buy a climbing map of Elbrus from Climbing-map.com

Rental Items locally
If you need to hire any equipment then we can offer crampons, harnesses and walking axes through Adventure Alternative when you book or by adding it to your booking section. The local shop in Pyatigorsk (where you are staying for your first night) also rents plastic boots, poles, goggles, jackets but availability can't be guaranteed as they come from a third party source, though we've never had a problem before. The shop will ask for a cash deposit to secure any rental and if the equipment is new this can be the full purchase price. A pair of plastic boots can cost USD$700.00, which is a lot of cash to carry with you just for a deposit. If the kit is older the deposit is a lot more realistic. 

A guideline to local prices are below. Other items are available and do email us with any specific requests.

Plastic boots - £5 - £8 per day depending on quality 
Down jacket - £3 - £6 per day depending on quality
Mitts - £2 per day
Gaiters - £1 per day
Goggles - £2 per day
Thermos - £1 per day

You can also hire from home and bring kit with you. If you are based in the UK or Ireland then our clients receive a discount from the Outdoor Hire shop. If you would like to visually compare your own kit you'll see what kit we refer to on the Outdoor Hire site.

Equipment and weather – July and August are normally hot in the valley and it is likely you will be wearing shorts and T-shirt at the bottom with a fleece for the evening. However trekking up to the hut on the snowline will show you the difference in temperature on ascent. You will need to be equipped for cold and wind. Make sure boots are double boots (plastic or hybrid), down jackets have hoods, fleeces are heavy, and mitts are really warm and waterproof. Don’t skimp on sunglasses either, take ones which cover around the eyes because the reflected glare off the snow can be intense. For people going on north side climbs it is more important to be particular about the warmth value of your equipment, especially jackets, hats, gloves and mitts and good quality socks in your boots. Summit day will be a long and challenging day so prepare for it by taking good quality warm clothing, and any summit day snacks you particularly like. Do contact us if you have any questions about kit!

The photos below are all taken around the same time of year but notice the difference in clothing - here you can see that you must be prepared for all conditions!

elbrus summit 1.jpg  13934567_1280887181943332_2001211467828727738_n.jpg

Conditions vary day by day!

elbrus 4.jpg

Full Down gear in windy conditions and full down when it clears. But it can also be sunny and cold / warm!

elbrus summit 3.jpg  elbrus summit 6.jpg

Frost Nip!                                                                Regulating temperature

elbrus summit 4.jpg  elbrus summit 5.jpg

Acclimatisation Section - clothing needs to be versatile!

elbrus acclim walks 3.jpg  Sasha Lebedev with one of our groups on Elbrus.jpg

Important that clothing keeps you warm and dry and also, when required, cool!

elbrus acclim walks 1.jpg  elbrus acclim walks 2.jpg

Why Us

Why Climb Mount Elbrus with Adventure Alternative?

  • We provide excellent guides who we pay well and who will look after you well.
  • We offer the option of camping at Lenz Rocks, which makes the summit day easier.
  • We have our own company in Russia with guides who have worked with us for over ten years.
  • We have an excellent network of contacts in the Elbrus area, from drivers to mountain rescue personnel.
  • Our price is all-inclusive, with no kitties or hidden extras.
  • We provide training on the mountain on the use of walking axe and crampons.
  • Our trip allows for good acclimatisation and adequate climbing period including multiple summit days.
  • We can combine your climb with a holiday in Moscow.
  • AA guide Sasha Lebedev is an author of many books, including one on Elbrus, and is a recognised authority.
  • We have experienced people in the UK who can advise you before the trip on what to buy and what to expect.
  • We have never cancelled a trip.
  • Adventure Alternative is financially protected and bonded and we have all the correct insurances as a tour operator, which in turn means you are protected.
  • Our booking pages allows you to create your own booking page into which you can put all the information regarding your trip, which you can change at any time.
  • We guide the Seven Summits and have experience of how to manage the challenge from start to finish.

Here's an article from adventure film maker Elia Saikaly giving some advice on climbing Mount Elbrus in which he mentions Adventure Alternative 




Choose a scheduled date or contact us to set up private dates or a bespoke itinerary. The minimum deposit is £100.00 and the balance is due six weeks before travel.

Tours from only 1,895pp Dates & Bookings

This was one of the most incredible experiences helped by the great organisation of Adventure Alternative. Every aspect …

Read More Tom Hicks

I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for all the organization and assistance for this past trip to Elbrus. All …

Read More George O
Key Information
  • Duration 12 days
  • Numbers 5 - 15
  • Altitude 5642
  • Challenge Strenuous
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