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Mount Elbrus, Эльбрус (5 642 m / 18,510 ft)
Normal Route - Caucasus, Russia

West and East summit of Mt. Elbrus seen from the Barrels hut (© P. Gatta)
West and East summit of Mt. Elbrus seen from the Barrels hut (© P. Gatta)

Mount Elbrus (Эльбрус)

The Mount Elbrus is an extinct volcano located in the western Caucasus mountains in Russia, near the border of Georgia. The West summit of Mt. Elbrus stands at 5642 m (18,510 ft) and is considered to be the highest mountain in Europe and one of the Seven summits. The normal route is long and strenuous, 2000 m / 6,561 ft of climb from the Barrels, but it is not technically difficult. Beside the long climb, the biggest challenge is the weather and the strong winds that are common.

Mt. Elbrus and map of Europe
Mt. Elbrus and map of Europe (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

September 9 and 10: Acclimatization above the Barrels (3700 m / 12,140 ft)

Acclimatization climbs from the Barrels hut up to 4300 m / 14,100 ft. Bad weather with 20 cm (8in) of fresh snow, wind and lightning.

Barrels hut, Elbrus (© P. Gatta)    Ice camp, Elbrus (© P. Gatta)
Barrels hut in the snow (© P. Gatta)                                                     View toward the East, Ice camp (© P. Gatta)

September 11: Acclimatization to Pastuckhova Rocks at 4690 m (15,390 ft)

Acclimatization climbs from the Barrels hut to Pastuckhova Rocks at 4690 m (15,390 ft). Good weather but 45 km/h of wind.

Pastuckhova Rocks, Elbrus (© P. Gatta)    Ushba 4710m seen from Pastuckhova Rocks (© P. Gatta)
On the way to Pastuckhova Rocks (© P. Gatta)                                          Ushba 4710m seen from Pastuckhova Rocks (© P. Gatta)

September 12: Barrels Hut (3700 m / 12,140 ft) - Elbrus West summit (5642 m / 18510 ft) - Barrels Hut

I left the barrels hut at 3:45am, reached the Pastuckhova Rocks at 6:20am and the summit of Elbrus at 9:35am. Clear skies but 50-60km/h wind and cold.

Sunrise, Elbrus (© P. Gatta)    Summit of Elbrus (© P. Gatta)
Sunrise (© P. Gatta)                                                                    Summit of Elbrus (© P. Gatta)

Return to the Barrels hut in 2h30.

Mt. Elbrus (© P. Gatta)    Georgia (© P. Gatta)
Sunset on Elbrus summits (© P. Gatta)                                                  View toward the South, Georgia (© P. Gatta)

September 13: Barrels Hut (3700m / 12,140ft)

Rest day at the Barrels hut.

Donguz Orun (© P. Gatta)    Elbrus (© P. Gatta)
Mt. Donguz Orun, 4468m, seen from Elbrus (© P. Gatta)                                                      Sunset (© P. Gatta)                       

Barrels hut (© P. Gatta)    Elbrus memorial (© P. Gatta)
Barrels Hut and Elbrus summits (© P. Gatta)                                                          World War II memorial (© P. Gatta)         

Elbrus (© P. Gatta)    Georgia (© P. Gatta)
View toward the East (© P. Gatta)                                                              View toward the Southwest (© P. Gatta)

Elbrus and Azau (© P. Gatta)
Mt. Elbrus in the clouds and the village of Azau (© P. Gatta)

7 Summits Challenge

The Elbrus is part of the 7 Summits Challenge which consists in climbing the highest mountain of each of the 7 continents.


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