Guided Mount Elbrus climbing expeditions is our “Dish from the Chef” at Russian Mountain Holidays. It’s been our craft and main specialty for the last 65+ years since 1953, when Pal Phil started the mountain guiding industry on Mount Elbrus. We climb mountains and live in the mountains because they are our home and we are deeply in love with it. We are here to share with you the biggest part of our heart and soul. We want you to see Mount Elbrus like we see it as locals. We want you to feel it like we feel it. We want you to feel at home too. That’s why at RMH we keep our groups very small, so we are sure that we are able to guarantee you the personal touch and a family style experience. We take serious everything we do and pay attention to every tiny detail behind the scene, because for us it matters.
Every RMH Elbrus climbing trip is signature designed by Vitaly Stegno in such a way to maximize your safety, comfort, and success to reach the summit of Elbrus. Depending on the type of trip, route, and the level of difficulty, the requirement to the participant may differ, but we always make sure that starting from the moment of meeting you at the MRV airport and to the moment we say “Good Bay!” to you back at the airport, every single day throughout your Mount Elbrus climbing experience with RMH is exciting, safe, fun, and successful.
Here is what you get during the ordinary week at Russian Mountain Holidays…
Here we go! Your Mount Elbrus climbing experience with us begins at the Mineralnye Vody Airport (MRV), 180 km (or 113 miles) from the foot of Mount Elbrus. It is 3 hours drive to our RMH Lodge in Terskol village by our RMH shuttle bus. Guests are requested to arrive at the airport early in the first half of the day, before 1 PM (13:00), to allow time to drive, lodge check in, sign required documentation, and get a safety briefing along with the gear check. Straight after we get your first email, we keep in touch with you to know all the necessary details about your travel, diet and equipment list for rental, so by the time of your arrival at MRV, we’re already waiting for you outside of the arrival hall of the MRV airport with everything ready. On arrival to the RMH Lodge in Terskol village we will assist you with check in and give you a welcome orientation before dinner. After that it’s time to unpack your gear and feel yourself comfortable at your new home for the next week. The RMH Lodge is made of pine wood and located in the pine forest near Mount Cheget on the bank of the river, so proper sleep and relaxing experience after a long flight is guaranteed. Also, there is a sauna, Russian banya, and a nice outside terrace with a stunning view of the Great Caucaus Range where you can relax having a cup of coffe and a WiFi. Then at 6 PM, it’s time to enjoy authentic Caucasian cuisine and have some great local herbal tea at a family style dinner at the restaurant.
Alright, now let’s dive right into it a bit deeper and break your travel logistics in Mother Russia by steps. So, you are in Moscow. Then you you get on the plane to Mineralnye Vody and in two hours we meet you at Mineralnye Vody Airport. Mineralnye Vody Airport (MRV) is a small airport, which is located in a small town of Mineralnye Vody, which in Russian language means “Mineral Waters”. Why? Because 50% of the world’s mineral water is located here in the region of Caucasian Mineral Waters and Mount Elbrus.
Mineralnye Vody Airport is in a 2-hour flight from Moscow. 90% of all international flights have stopovers in transit airports in Moscow. Any airport in Moscow is suitable for a transfer. There are three main airports in Moscow: Vnukovo (VKO), Domodedovo (DME), and Sheremetyevo (SVO). And there are two airports in St. Petersburg: Pulkovo 1 and Pulkovo 2. The direction to Mineralnye Vody is very popular inside Russia, as Mineralnye Vody (“The Caucasian Mineral Waters”) is a large resort center in Russia, and the Russians, especially from such big cities as Moscow and St. Petersburg often come down South to restore their health. Therefore, most of Russian airlines make at least several flights a day in this direction, so you can easily get here on any day of the week at any time, but we still highly recommend booking your internal flights in advance at the same time with booking your international flights. We will tell you more about the Russian airlines on a separate page of our website.
An important point to keep in mind when booking flights is that we meet you on the first day of the chosen trip, which is the “Arrival Day” on each trip description page. All trip dates are published on a specific page of a particular trip (please, check the drop-down menu up top). Arriving a day earlier makes no sense. All RMH Elbrus climbing trips are designed in such a way that even on our shortest classic 8-Day program you fly in, acclimatize, climb the mountain and fly out of MRV back to Moscow exactly in 8 days in total. Your arrival time in Mineralnye Vody is also an important aspect to keep in mind. All guests are required to arrive before 13:00 (1 PM) – Moscow time (GMT+3). We recommend arriving around 11:00 – 12:00 AM. Usually, we arrive at the airport around 11.30 AM to meet a group and at 13:00 (1 PM), our RMH shuttle bus leaves the airport. We set the arrival time at 13:00 for a reason. The drive to Terskol village itself takes 3 hours from the airport and on arrival at the RMH lodge it’s already 5:30 PM. You still need time to take a shower, get some rest, have dinner, get briefing, and go through the gear check with guides, as well as sign all the necessary documents, such as Waivers and safety instructions. It all takes time and you want to go to bed as early as possible to get a good sleep before tomorrow, especially if you are on a jetlag, therefore, we consider 13:00 PM the best time to arrive at MRV. If for any reason you didn’t manage to get the right flight and you still arrive too early or too late, we can arrange a taxi or an individual transfer by RMH shuttle bus for you from the airport to our lodge.
So here you are, landed! Welcome to Mineralnye Vody! The RMH guides and Vitaly Stegno are already waiting for you straight outside the arrival hall of the airport in RMH t-shirts, and greet you with a smile. We are pretty sure you won’t confuse us there with anyone else. Once the group is all together it’s time to jump inside our RMH shuttle bus and go to the RMH Lodge in Terskol village. On the drive we provide you with snacks, fruits and water. On the way from the airport, we also make a stop at a supermarket, so you can also buy anything special you want for the drive. The drive to Terskol is very picturesque. We drive through the local villages, Lake Tambukan famous for its mud and healing water, beautiful rocky gorges, mountain cliffs, mountain rivers, and a ghost town of Tyrnauz (a former goldmine of the USSR).
Through the bus windows you can see how the local Caucasians live, their villages, several dormant volcanoes such as Mount Mashuk (999 m), Mount Beshtau (1400 m) and Mount Yutsa (973 m), pine forests, small waterfalls, beautiful valleys, and of course, the beginning of the Great Caucasus Range with all its peaks in all their beauty, as well as a lot of cows on the road. During the drive, we listen to good music and are happy to answer any questions you have. In 5 minutes from the RMH Lodge, we stop in the Narzan Valley to drink the real mountain white narzan (special kind of mineral water), which bubbles up right out of the ground.
Upon arrival at the RMH lodge, we help you with check-in and show you to your rooms. We provide you with a single room accommodation to maximize your comfort. Our lodge is located in a pine forest on the foot of Mount Cheget on the bank of the Donguzorun River, so the best quality sleep and proper rest after a long flight are guaranteed. All the windows overlook the forest and when you open the window, the fresh mountain air of the pine forest and the sounds of the murmuring mountain river get into the room. Each room has its own washroom with a shower, two beds, a large window, a TV set, a fridge, a clothes rack, a wardrobe and two heaters that heat the room. After placing in the room, you have some time to relax a bit after the trip, take a shower and unpack your gear.
Then at 6 PM it’s time for dinner! At RMH, we are as passionate about fabulous and healthy food as we are about everything. We cook you authentic Caucasian cuisine of the Balkarian people from the best local farm products and freshest ingredients. We are also attentive to your special dietary requests and you can always choose the right menu for yourself. While we are in the Base Camp in Terskol, we have breakfasts and dinners in a small local restaurant, which is two minutes walk from the doors of the lodge, and which has been owned by a local Balkarian family for several decades. It is a cozy family restaurant where you can try all the famous dishes of the local Balkarian cuisine.
On the dinner, after the meal, we sit down for a cup of herbal mountain tea and do the program briefing. We will let you know how the weather forecast looks like for the next week, and what we will be doing during the next few days in detail.
After dinner, we get back to the lodge, where we do gear check and rental. All the heavy technical climbing equipment, such as boots, crampons, trekking poles, ice axe, climbing harness, etc., can be rented from us right at the lodge. Alright! That’s it for today! Have a good sleep and see you tomorrow morning!
Your second day of the trip and the first full day on Planet Elbrus at RMH starts with a fresh mountain morning, a cup of hot coffee and a tasty, healthy breakfast. At breakfast, we do a short briefing; we give you a weather forecast update, tell you the plans for the day, and what equipment you will need today depending on the weather forecast. After breakfast, we provide you with a lunch box for the day full of vitamins, sweets and protein. Then we grab our backpacks and go out there onto the track.
Today is our first day of acclimatization and we are climbing the Cheget Peak (3600 m. / 12,139 ft.). Cheget Peak towers over the Baksan Valley providing a natural land border between Russia and Georgia. The trail runs alongside the border with Georgia and you will be able to literally make a step across the Russian border. The altitude gain is 1,000-1,200 meters, we cover 5 km, and the hike takes about 5 hours total time. The trail begins in a pine forest right behind the lodge and smoothly rises up the Southern slope of Mount Cheget. The track itself is not technically difficult and the climb is pretty smooth, but at the same time, it allows you to quickly get a good altitude gain and a good warm up before moving to the High Camp at 3,850 metres the next day. On the hike, we take several small breaks to keep the nice pace and feel the flow, and on the top at 3,600 m, we take a nice longer lunch break with a stunning view of Mount Elbrus.
We’ve chosen specifically Mount Cheget for acclimatization on the first day for several reasons: firstly, the track itself gives us the climb we need. Secondly, the path is very picturesque and beautiful, and as you climb, you enjoy incredible views of the legendary Caucasus mountain peaks such as Mt. Donguzorun (4, 454 m) with a huge glacier “Seven” in the shape of number seven, and the top of Mt. Nakra (4,277 m). And thirdly, from the top of Cheget, you get the very best view of Mount Elbrus and the whole Baksan Valley, and when the weather is clear and the visibility is good, you can see the whole route of your upcoming climb starting from the High Camp and all the way up to the Summit. On top of Mount Cheget, there is a small mountain hut, where you can order some mind-blowing “Cheget-special” pasties with cowberry and a cup of sea buckthorn tea and enjoy these great views having lunch. It doesn’t get much better than this!
On the descent from the top, we can also use a chairlift to save some time and get back down to the lodge a bit earlier to have more time to get ready for tomorrow. Upon returning to the lodge, a hot shower and a hearty RMH style dinner are waiting for ya! In the evening, we pack our backpacks and duffels and get ready for tomorrow to move to the High Camp for the next 4 days. All the extra stuff that you won’t need up there on the mountain, you can safely leave at the lodge in a special room.
Okay, good job for the first day, Amigos! Have a good sleep and see you tomorrow morning!
Good morning! Breakfast first! After breakfast, we grab our duffel bags, get in the minivan, and take a 5-minute drive to the very foot of Mount Elbrus, which called “Azau Glade” (2,300 m), making a stop at the “Mount Elbrus Mountain Rescue Service Department” to register each member of the group. *That’s one of many things we do at RMH to guarantee and maximize your safety up there on the mountain. Read more about our professionalism and safety on the following page of our site, right here.
In winter, Mount Elbrus is a national ski resort, and there are two cable-car lines which go from Azau Glade all the way up to the High Camp at 3,850 meters. When climbing Elbrus via the South Route, in most of the cases, we use one of these 2 cable car lines to get to the High Camp faster and save some time and energy, to hike higher from the High Camp the same day for a better acclimatization. There are two stopovers on the way up, so we switch 2 times: the “Azau” station (2,300 m) – the “Old Krugozor” statio (2,950 m), and the “Mir station” (3,500 m) – the “Gora-Bashi” station (3,850 m). From the cable car, you can see the entire beauty of the Great Caucasus Range with all it’s endless mountain horizons all the way down to the end of Georgia. Our High Camp is located right at 3,850 meters in 50 meters from the top station of the cable-car. Upon arrival in the camp, we help you with accommodation and show you your rooms/modules. Each room has four bunk beds, so we do not sleep side by side with other climbers, and each guest has his own separate bed. Each bed has a power outlet and a night lamp. Each module is fully heated and fully electric with electricity for 24 hours a day, big panoramic window, and intermittent WiFi. For today, it is the best Camp on Mount Elbrus available to stay at 3,850 m. By the way, our personal RMH High Mountain Chef – Anna is waiting for ya! Your meal is cooling down already! It’s lunchtime!
After lunch, we go for a small acclimatization hike up to Hut № 11, which is located at 4,100 m. The hike takes 3 hours total time, and as we additionally gain +450 meters of altitude during the first day on the mountain, it contributes to acclimatization and helps you sleep better the first night at 3,850 m.
After the hike we get back to the camp and have a hearty dinner. After dinner, we’ll let you know the plan for the next day and give you an updated weather forecast. Time to go to bed! Have a good sleep and see you tomorrow!
Good morning! Rise and shine! Today’s morning coffee you will never forget. The entire Great Caucasus Range is on the palm of your hand shining for you!
After breakfast we put our highmountain boot on and heading up high above the clouds for an acclimatization hike to the Pastukhov Rocks (4,800 m). Today is gonna be first long day at high altitudes. We overcome the distance of 3 kilometers and today’s climb gives us another 1000 meters of vertical arrise. On the top of the rocks, we have lunch, enjoying the magnificent views of the Great Caucasus Range from 4800 m. On the track, there are several short steep sections, where the slope is about 35 degrees. The track itself is not difficult, but due to the fact that at high altitudes starting from 3,700 meters it is already much more difficult to hike as the load on the body doubles, we go slowly and focus on breathing. Proper breathing and a measured pace are the key factors to successful acclimatization and our task as guides is to teach you this. Today is also the first day when we start walking in crampons. At the foot the Pastukhov Rocks, we conduct a basic course on safe walking in crampons and show you the most effective techniques.
Upon returning to the Camp, hot hearty lunch is waiting for you. After lunch, you can have some time to rest after a long day out, dry your gear, enjoy the views and take some pictures of one of the most beautiful sunsets in your life.
Dinner time! After the meal, as alwasy, we will tell you the plan for the next day along with the updated weather forecast. Tomorrow is an easy day and you can sleep well and get up a little later in the morning. That’s it for today. Goodnight! See you tomorrow!
Morning everyone! Welcome to the kitchen, breakfast is ready! Today is our rest day before the summit ascent. After breakfast, we do a Snow & Ice training with level 1 self-arrest course near the Camp. You will learn how to self-arrest yourself from different position in different scenarios as well as how to use the fixed ropes and climb in a rope-team. The training usually takes about 2-3 hours in total and you also have time the practise your new skills. We have lunch straight after the training. Our main objective for today is to get a good rest and proper sleep before the summit push. Today we have dinner a couple of hours earlier so that we have more time to sleep, as we will get up at midnight and start the ascent at 02:00 AM. After dinner, we do a guides meeting and a group briefing, where we’ll give you an updated weather forecast for tomorrow and a detailed plan of the ascent. Right after dinner, we prepare the gear for the summit day climb and go to bed. Have a good sleep! See you in a few hours!
It’s time to be a hero! Today is why you here! Today is the most important day of your trip to Mother Russia! We get up at midnight and have breakfast at 01:00 AM. Guides will double-check how the weather looks like up there and will take the final decision. If the weather is good to go, we leave the High Camp at 02:00 AM. The cost of all RMH Mount Elbrus climbing trips includes taking a snowcat up to the top of the Pastukhov Rocks – 4800 m (exactly to the same point we reached on Day 4 of the climb), so in fact, we start the summit ascent from 4,800 m. As our rich guiding experience on Elbrus shows, taking a snowcat on the summit day doubles your chances to successfully reach the summit. It saves you a lot of strength and gives you 4 additional hours to reach the summit on time before the turning time point. Even with the use of a snowcat, the summit day climb takes 8 hours for the ascent and from 4 to 5 hours for the descent, which already makes it about thirteen hours total climb time. You should be ready for a long and hard day climbing almost non-stop for 13 hours at high altitudes.
It takes 30-40 minutes to get from th High Camp (3850 m) to the Pastukhova Rocks (4800 m) using a snowcat.
We’ll have several breaks on the route. The first one is a short breat at 5,100 m (which is the beginning of the traverse to the saddle), the second break is on the saddle at 5,350 m. Then next one will be right before making it to the Western Summit Plateau at 5,600 metrs (which is the the right side of the crater) and after that we on the very top of European continent – Mount Elbrus Westrn Peak – 5,642 m.
Timing. If breaking the route down into sections, on the Summit Day, the average timing as follows:
1) From 4,800 meters (start point) – to the beginning of the traverse (5,100 m) – 2,5 hours;
2) From 5,100 m to the Saddle (5,350 m) – 3,5 hours;
3) From the Saddle (5,350 m) to the Western Summit Plateu (5,600 m) – 2.5 hours;
4) From 5,600 m to the Summit (5,642 m) – 1 hour;
5) From the Summit back to the High Camp (3,850 m.) – 4-5 hours. (If skiing down – 1 hour).
The steepest sections of the route are the slope from the Pastukhov Rocks (4,800 m) to the beginning of the traverse to the saddle (5,100 m.); the tilt angle is about 40-45 degrees, and the slope from the saddle (5,350 m) to the Western Summit Plateau (5,600 m). This is the section where we use the fixed ropes. The tilt angle is about 45-47 degrees.
We spend about 30 minutes on the summit and begin the descent. Upon returning to the High Camp, we have some time to relax, drink some tea, pack our gear, and then we descend all the way back down to the foot of the mountain to Azau Glade (2,300 m) by cable car and return to the RMH lodge, where you can finally have a hot shower and a nice comfortable bed. In the evening we have a festive dinner with national Balkarian dishes, kebab meat and champagne where you will be awarded with your Mount Elbrus Completion Certificate. After dinner, it’s a beer o’clock and time to enjoy hot Russian Sauna!
Mission Complete! You are true Heroes! This day will remain in history!
You made it! We solute you! Yesterday you were standing on the very highest point of the European continent – Mount Elbrus Western Peak at 5642 m. Higher than Mont Blanc, and higher than any other peak both in Russia and Europe. Today is our reserve day in case of the bad weather conditions on the previous day, and like every day at RMH, it starts with a hearty breakie and a cup of hot aroma coffee. However, if we still use this day and wait for the weather to change up there in the High Camp at 3,850 m, then we just follow the schedule of the Summit Day. But if we were lucky with the weather yesterday, and successfully made it to the summit, then today we have several options to spend the day:
Now a few words about the city itself. Pyatigorsk is unique. It is a small, resort town with a deep and interesting history. Pyatigorsk was founded in 1780, and it is 500 meters above sea level. The population is about 144,603 people. Pyatigorsk is the capital of the North Caucasus. It is the oldest spa and mud therapy resort of federal significance in Russia, as well as an industrial, commercial, scientific, cultural and tourist center of the Caucasian Mineral Waters region. In 1828, the famous Russian architect Joseph Karlovich (Giuseppe-Marco) Bernardazzi (1788–1840) drafted a future city of Pyatigorsk. Then, the Russian General Georgiy Arsenyevich Emmanuel, who organized the first military expedition to Mount Elbrus in 1829 and under whose leadership Mount Elbrus was climbed first time in the history on July 22, 1829, provided a variant of the name of the city – Pyatigorsk, in honour of the five-domed Mount Beshtau (1,400 m.), at the foot of which the city is located. In translation into English, Pyatigorsk is the City of Five Peaks. Mount Mashuk that is almost in the center of Pyatigorsk is a symbol of the city, and its height is 993 meters above sea level. Mount Mashuk is a mountain biking center known throughout Russia. The Finals of the Russian Downhill Mountain Biking Championship was held here in 2008 and 2010.
The main unique component of the natural landscape of Pyatigorsk and the entire region of the Caucasian Mineral Waters is the fact that 50% of the world’s mineral water is located here in the area around the city of Pyatigorsk. It’s no wonder that the whole region is called Mineralnye Vody, which is Mineral Waters in English. That’s why Pyatigorsk is so famous throughout Russia. People from all over the country come down South here to get unique spa treatment with mineral waters, hot springs, and mud baths. Pyatigorsk has the most diverse natural healing resources among the other resorts of the Caucasian Mineral Waters and any other regions in Russia. There are over 40 mineral springs, differing in chemical composition and water temperature; some of them are radonic. Highly therapeutic mud is extracted from Lake Tambukan near Pyatigorsk.
Another unique component of the region is its mountains. Almost all the mountains and every single peak here including Mt. Mashuk, Mt. Beshtau, and of course, Mount Elbrus are dormant volcanoes. There are 27 dormant volcanoes in total in the region. It is the largest cluster of dormant volcanoes in the world.
The historical centre of the city, like Rome, is built of travertine (yellow stone from Mount Mashuk). Pyatigorsk is very picturesque and green, with many fountains, and wherever you are in the center of the city, it seems that you are walking in the park. The city is located on a hill, due to which it offers an incredible view of Mount Elbrus and the entire Great Caucasus Range up to Mount Kazbek in Georgia especially at sunset when the horizon is clear. One of the main attractions of the city is the underground Lake Proval, which is located inside Mount Mashuk, and where you can get through a stone tunnel, as well as the historical Park Tsvetnik from which the city began its growth in 1780. Besides, you can visit such attractions as the Diana’s Grotto, which was built by Joseph Karlovich (Giuseppe-Marco) Bernardazzi in 1831, in memory of the man’s first ascent to Mount Elbrus, under the guidance of General Emmanuel, a bronze statue of an eagle holding a snake, which is a symbol of the city, a War Memorial, an Eternal Flame in memory of the great victory in World War II, and a television tower on the top of Mount Mashuk.
Pyatigorsk is also famous due to the legendary Russian classic writers and poets such as Leo Tolstoy, who lived in Pyatigorsk from 1852 to 1853, Alexander Pushkin, who often visited Pyatigorsk and spent a lot of time here working on his poems. The greatest Russian poet and writer Mikhail Lermontov also lived in Pyatigorsk. He wrote many of his beautiful works in Pyatigorsk, most of them are devoted to the Caucasus Mountain, which he was so deeply in love with. The house where Mikhail Lermontov lived is still preserved in Pyatigorsk, now it’s a museum. Besides, there are streets named after the famous writers and poets in Pyatigorsk.
Pyatigorsk is definitely worth to visit, and usually, on a reserve day, if we successfully climbed Mount Elbrus the day before, we come down here. By the way, Pyatigorsk is also famous for it’s ice cream. Just like a nice bonus after a week in the mountains! 😉
Good morning! It’s time to go home and tell your family and friends about your Elbrus experience and crush your social media game with tons of new material. After breakfast, we will carefully bring you to Mineralnye Vody Airport, will give hug you and if necessary, help you to check in for your flight. If we start from Terskol, we usually leave from the RMH Lodge at 09:00 AM to be at the airport by 12.30 PM, as it’s a 3-hour drive. If we spend the night in Pyatigorsk, then we can leave the hotel at 11:00 AM, as it takes 25 minutes to get to MRV Airport. If the time of your departure flight doesn’t coincide with our shuttle bus transfers, we will always help you to get a taxi. Well, unfortunately, that’s it. We have to say Goodbye! You never leave RMH as our customer; you always leave RMH as our friend. We hope to see you again! Have a safe flight back home!
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