Once in a lifetime

Mount Elbrus

by Rob Colbourn

When the Soviet Union opened up in 1985 Mount Elbrus became Europe’s highest mountain once again at 5642 metres. Western mountaineers had not forgotten that Elbrus was 835 metres higher than Mont Blanc; they had just forgotten that Europe extended into the Soviet Union.

Elbrus sits within the Caucasus range which acts as a barrier between Europe and Northern Asia. The area is surrounded by countries that have fought against their political masters in Moscow since the split up of the Soviet Union and for this reason the Elbrus region is considered unsafe to travel around. It can be dangerous to climb Elbrus and the mountains of the Caucasus from the south but entering via Russia is considered safe and is the easiest way to summit Elbrus.

Travelling within Russia is always fun and getting to the Elbrus region on an internal Russian Aeroflot flight to Mineralnye Vody Airport is an experience in itself. Elbrus is a straightforward mountain to climb with regards to technical ability. What makes Elbrus difficult is the fact that summit day is a long one with little respite and can take up to 12 hours to summit from base camp. Those that can ski can descend in just over an hour but for those walking the descent can take anything up to 5 hours.

Although it is a straightforward climb and a very beautiful climb there are many issues that affect Elbrus and the area surrounding it. Most groups stay at the Gara-Bashi huts and set out for their summit bid from this point. The huts are overcrowded, with extremely uncomfortable beds that can make sleeping near impossible. The area around the huts resembles a construction site with electrical pylons, broken concrete slabs and waste scattered around. During the Soviet era the mountain huts and the mountain were well managed and maintained but in recent years everything has a feel of mismanagement about it and the mountain feels like a bit of a dumping ground.

Although these issues affect the experience of anyone visiting Elbrus, once above 4000 metres the Caucasus region and its views open up and the Gara-Bashi huts are all but forgotten. Lava Expeditions offers its clients a way of climbing Elbrus that takes climbers away from the mess of Gara-Bashi and summits the mountain in a traditional way using tented camps between Gara-Bashi and the summit.

The first night of the Lava Expeditions Elbrus climb is spent at Gara-Bashi but after this two tented camps at Diesel Hut (4060 metres) and the Pastukhova Rocks (4640 metres) are used giving climbers a better chance to acclimatise and to spend more time looking at the views and not the Gara-Bashi huts. For more information on Lava Expeditions and their Elbrus climbs visit http://www.lavaexpeditions.com/Exp_mtelbrus.html

More Information:

Climbing Kilimanjaro can be achieved for charity, pleasure or personal achievement. Climb Kilimanjaro costs need not be expensive, so contact Lava expeditions, and you could well be on your way.

Source: http://www.PopularArticles.com/article347864.html