Climbing Elbrus with skis
Skiing on Elbrus is possible all year round. But the best time for skiing down from the top of Elbrus till the end Azau glade is April – the beginning of May.
This program for 10 days is for tourists with good experience in skiing or snowboarding. As well as off-piste skiing. Such program provides good preparation and acclimatization before the ascent. And it is designed for those who are still new in ski tours. Here is enough time for training and gaining experience.
Ski touring programs may vary depending on the weather, snow conditions and avalanche danger.
Ski-mountaineering started in Elbrus region not so long time ago. But every year it becomes more and more popular, as there are many approachable wild places and camps with fresh good snow cover. We can offer combined tours and routes in the Elbrus region in various options and for any amount of days. There are great opportunities for ski touring in Elbrus area — we have chosen some of them ourselves, based on previous practice and experience. In the area of the Adyl-su and Adyr-su gorges, to the mountains of Cheget and Kogutai. The best time for a ski touring program is April — May.
Day 1. Meeting in Min Vody airport. Transfer to Elbrus area. Accommodation in hotel on Cheget glade.
Day 2. Ascent by cable car to Mount Cheget (2750 m), skitour to Cheget Peak (3400 m). Lunch packages on the way. Return to the hotel. Dinner.
Day 3. Transfer hotel–glade Azau (2350 m). Cable-car till station Krugozor (3000 m). Skitour – lake Azau – plateau Hotu-Tau – pass “Echo of the War”. (3200 m). Skiing down to Azau glade. Return to the hotel. Dinner.
Day 4. Climbing to mount Kogutai (3820 m). Skitour till Cheget glade (2200 m). Hotel. Dinner.
Day 5. Ski tour trip to valley Adyl-su or valley Adyr-su (depending from snow conditions). Return to the hotel. Dinner.
Day 6. Climbing to tourist’s hotel “Gara Bashy” (3800 m) by cable-ways “Elbrus” and “Gara-Bashi”.
Acclimatization till base “Priut 11” (4200 m). Returning to Gara-Bashi.
Day 7. Climbing for acclimatization to Pastukhov’s rocks (4800 m). Returning to hotel “Gara Bashi”.
Day 8. Climbing to a top of mount Elbrus. Skiing down to Gara-Bashi.
Day 9. Spare day for climbing. Skiing down to Azau glade.
Day 10. Transfer to Min Vody. Departure to Moscow.
Join our groups. We have :
- Guaranteed meetings and transfers from Mineralnye Vody or Nalchik any day and time.
- No additional fees for transfers.
- The most experienced and professional guides on Elbrus english speaking.
- We have been in the service since 2003 and therefore have a great experience of successful climbing trips and satisfied tourists.
- You can join the group later or leave early with the return of unused nights from the hotel.
- Convenient number of tourists in groups from 4 pax to 10 pax (not more).
- Support from our KavkazSkiTour office around the clock in the city of Nalchik, with a close location to Elbrus, which allows us quickly resolve any issues that arise during the trip.
- Safety support and quick contact with medical, emergency and insurance agencies.
- Transfer from Minvody to Terskol.
- Hotel accommodation.
- Introduction, preparation of equipment.
Arrival to airport Mineralnye Vody or Nalchik from Moscow (Istanbul etc.). Meeting and transfer to Elbrus area. Accommodation in hotel 3* on Cheget glade, dinner. The road from Min Vody to hotel takes about 3-4 hours.
- Cheget glade (2000 m) – cable car till cafe «Ai» (2650).
- Skitour to Cupola of Mount Cheget (3400-3700 m)
- Descent to the Cheget glade.
Skitour to Cupola of mount Cheget (3400 m). Skiing over the Cheget slopes.
The route starts on a large glade Cheget near the lower station of the cableway to Mt. Cheget, in 2 km from the Terskol vil. Here is a big hotel “Cheget” for 520 places, cafes, shops, a market, tourist bivouacs, many private new hotels. Around the glade is a pine forest.
In 17 minutes we mount an altitude of 2750 m by chair-lift Cheget-1, to the cafe “Ai” (in Balkarian – “a moon”). From here an ice massif of Mt. Elbrus with the glaciers Terskol, Gara-Bashi and Azau is well seen, and also a southern ridge, on which the ribbon of the road to “The New Outlook” is stretching. We leave to the left on a course of a ski lift, bend slope of Mt.Cheget and ascend to the top of Cheget. On the opposite part of the glade two triangles of the summits Small and Large Kogutai (which we go next day), a menacing wall Donguz-Orun-Bashi (4454 m) with huge pendulous glaciers and snow cornices, more to the right – a truncated pyramid of Mt. Nakra-Tau are well visible. Ski down to Cheget glade outside skiing tracks.
The maximum height of mount Cheget – 3772 meters. The lifting height – 3050 meters. Change of altitude is 1140 meters. Cheget tracks are considered as one of the most difficulties of the world skiing resorts. The amateurs of extreme sport will meet skiing and snowboarding off-piste tracks of general length more then 20 kilometers.
- Transfer hotel – Azau glade (2350 m).
- Cable-car — station Azau — station Krugozor ( 3000 m).
- Skitour — lake Azau — plateau Khotyu-tau — pass Echo Voyny (3200 m).
- Descent to valley Azau (2350 m) — Azau glade.
Transfer to the Azau glade – Azau glacier – «Sand Hotel» – the pass «Echo of the War» – the Azau glade. Expansion – 14 km, duration – 8 hours.
The route to the Azau valley starts from the Azau glade. The river Baksan starts a bit higher than Terskol vil., from the coalescence of the Gara-Bashi and Azau rivers. In the steep gorge situated an interesting object of the nature – the Large Azau glacier, the largest of Elbrus region glaciers. Last century it is retreating fast, leaving huge masses of dead ice.
In 1,5 hours of ski-tour from the Azau glade we cross over the spring, flowing out from a lake under the Small Azau glacier. The lake lies on a moraine highly above them. The water in the spring is weakly mineralized. It smells of sulfur in air – it is breathing the sleeping volcano of Mt. Elbrus.
A bit lower along the glade the river receives a tributary on the right flowing from the glacier Chiper-Azau. Some more hundred of meters, and the path comes up against the black wall of dead ice on the tongue of the glacier. From an ice the river breaks free with a fairing.
We can mount along the rocks along a talus and a moraine onto the glacier. It is necessary to be cautious: under a flake of rocks and clay there is an ice. Pieces of native sulphur are found there. It’s dangerous to go higher because of the hidden cracks.
Having mounted the glacier, we cross it along the border of an alive and dead ice to the right coast, where a slope the moraine the path is visible, and go along the morain in the direction of the tributary of the Azau river, flowing off the glacier Chiper-Azau. Having turned into the glade of the tributary, we mount the sand-pebble terrace with the tracks of bivouacs and transparent springs. This place is called «Sand hotel» (2700 m). The rise from the Azau glade demands about 3 hours.
From «The Sand Hotel» in the upper reaches of the glacier there are visible two similar summits: the right – Azaubashi, the left – Chiper-Azau. From the Azaubashi up to the «Sand Hotel» a rocky ridge, ending with a pyramid-shaped summit above the glacier Large Azau. To the left of it there is situated the pass «Echo of the War» (3200 m).
Three hundred meters west starts a herbaceous slope leading to a small green terrace with a spring and tracks of bivouacs. From a terrace both summits framing the pass «Echo of the War» are visible. With skitour equipment we start an ascent along the spring up on the snow tongue. We go along the snow tongue carefully stamping the steps. Into the ready steps the legs put smoothly to keep steps for the going behind. The torn off step is covered by snow and then it is stamped again. For the snow tongue short scree leads to the pass.
On a broad saddle the memorable boards to the defenders of the Caucasus are set. By the pass is a small lake. Behind it is strengthened a huge ice field covered with furrows from thawed water – the Hotu-Tau plateau. Above it rises the two-headed Elbrus. At the far end of the plateau is a lowering of the Hotu-Tau pass. Behind it the Baksan gorge with snow ridges above the glades of the rivers Irikchat and Kyrtyk are visible. An arc skirting the Sand Hotel is viewed completely, opposite it, in a deep circus, there is the Chegetkara glacier, more to the right is a broad snow saddle of the Chiper pass, closer are the passes ChiperAzau and Azau.
Skiing down to Azau glade and transfer to hotel in Cheget.
- Climbing Mount Kogutai (3820 m).
- Cheget glade — Bolshoy Kogutai glacier.
- Upper line of the forest — Mount Kogutai.
- Descent to the Cheget glade (2100 m).
Climbing to the mount Kogutai (3820 m). The Cheget glade – the Large Kogutai glacier – the upper forest-line – the mount Kogutai – the Cheget glade.
The Kogutai spur of the Greater Caucasian Range begins from the west summit of the Dongus-Orun Massive and leads in the north – east direction. On this spur there are two rock summits: Bolshoi and Maly Kogutai.
From the Cheget Glade we cross the right bank of the river Dongus-Orun over the bridge that is located just near the Cheget Glade in the lower part of the Dongus-Orun Gorge. From here we go to the Kogutai Glade. In the distance of 50-80 meters from the upper and left glade corner of the motion direction begins the good path which goes to the upper forest – line. The further ascent lays over the sub alpine grasslands. The path comes to the left side of the Kogutai River. The river has some streams. We cross it over the stones and beams. Then we go up along the left bank of the Kogutai River over the bottom of the moraine valley. Keep the south direction till the end of the Large Kogutai Glacier. The end of the tongue hangs on the steep rounded rocks. Lunch and skiing down to the stream. Then descent to hotel on glade Cheget. Dinner.
- Transfer hotel — gorge Adyl-su — mountain base Dzhantugan ( 2350 m).
- Skitour — Green Hotel — the upper reaches of the Dzhankuat glacier (3400 m).
- Descent along the Dzhankuat glacier to the Dzhantugan camp.
Transfer hotel – gorge Adyl-su – camp “Dgan-Tugan” (2350 m). Skitour – glade Green hotel – Djankuat glacier (3400 m). Descent on Djankuat glacier till camp “Dgan-Tugan”.
The Adylsu gorge is one of the most beautiful in the Caucasus. Not difficult route on the motorway passes on the pine forests and alpine meadows gets acquainted with the interesting object of nature – Kashkatash and Djankuat glaciers.
Above the Elbrus vil. (1770 m) from the Baksan highway is branched a road to the glade of the Adylsu river, the right tributary of the Baksan river. We need to drive over the pine forest by the left bank of the river past the camp “Adylsu”. After border control checking by the bridge is a climbing camp “Shhelda”. We overcome a small ascent, and then we descend to the bridge on the right bank of the Adylsu river.
The forest remains behind. Now it’ll be found by separate sites. On the right bank is situated the climbing camp “Elbrus”. From it if to look in the side of the Baksan, the massif of Elbrus is seen. On the left bank of the Adylsu river above the grey moraine slope the glade of the glacier Kashkatash opens. From under the glacier rumbles and outflows a swift flow. Below the greenish ice breaks on a moraine there is a pine forest and above the glacier – a sugar head of the Bgeduch summit. This is a show of amazing beauty!
In 20 minutes from Elbrus vil. we approach “Djan-Tugan” camp. Under the camp – mineral springs.
Here we leave the car and continue the way to glade “Green Hotel” (2400 m).
Above the climbing camp “Djan-Tugan” we cross the koshi (houses of the shepherds) glade. The path comes nearer to the river. In some places above the water wire handholds are made.
Soon the path passes on the left bank of the Adylsu river, which here is called Djankuat. In 20-30 minutes from the bridge we leave on a vast glade, below restricted by a billow of a right bank moraine of the Bashkara glacier, and above – by the left bank moraine of the Djankuat glacier.
In the middle of the glade there is “Green Hotel” – a climbing hut (2400 m). To reach that hut from the climbing hut “Djan-Tugan” will take 1,5-2 hours. Under the moraine, by the glacier, lies a beautiful lake. Below, behind the Adylsu glade, in glares of the sun burns Mt. Elbrus, below, space filling the bottom of the glade, the creeps white mist. In the upper reaches of the glade above the Djankuat glacier blaze snow summits. Djankuat glacier is not more than 20 minutes from here. The glacier is retreating slowly; therefore its tongue consists of alive ice. Skiing down on glacier. Transfer back to hotel in Cheget.
Or depending from snow condition, ski tour in Adyr-su valley.
- Transfer hotel — Adyr-su gorge — Jailyk camp (2300 m).
- Ski-tour — Adyrsu glacier — Mestia hut (3150 m).
- Descent along the Mestia glacier to the Jailyk camp.
The route gets acquainted with the glade of the Adyrsu river from the upper reaches of which opens the most beautiful panorama of the Main Caucasian Range and high reaches of the Adyrsu glade – a kingdom of eternal ice and snow.
Along the glade is made the motorway. By the bus stop “Verhny Baksan” (1500 m) from the highway departs the road into the glade of the right tributary Baksan-Adyrsu. In a kilometer from the highway the river Adyrsu goes out the canyon, sawed in the rocks (a mouth step). The bypass of the mouth step is called the Doktorsky pass. In the 1970s here was constructed an automobile jack (lift) and a stairway by an altitude of 60 m consisting of 400 steps.
Behind the jack begins the glade grown with a pine forest. Here we drive by 4wheel cars till Ullu-tau camp. Having crossing over the bridge to the right bank we approach to the Vodopadnaya river. A tourist camp is equipped here. Further the road twists above the Adyrsu. Some sites of the forest piled up by avalanches are met. Approximately in 10 min. the glade extends, the road passes on the left bank of the river. On the right on a course opens the glade Djalovchat where is constructed a jack for the amateurs of the mountain skiing.
Above the river is clenched by huge boulders. Behind a canyon the road goes on the broad flat leftbank (30 min driving from the Verhny Baksan). In front of it the massif Ullutauchan opens in all its beauty, above the road on a green site the monument to the perished climbers is established.
Soon the path enters the forest again, intercepts the Klumkolsu river leads the tourists to the climbing camp “Djailyk” (2300 m). Just behind it on the bank of the Adyrsu river there is a good survey site from which the passes Garvash (a steep saddle to the left of Ullutau) and the Mestiysky pass are visible.
Behind “Djailyk”, at the climbing camp “Ullutau”, by the edge of the forest, the road ends. Above the camp the path bends a spur and on moraine patches climbs above a riverbed of the river. In 1,5 – 2 hours we mount pebbly sites of Mestia overnights (2500 m).
Below them is seen a tongue of Mestia glacier – a place of trainings of the climbers – beginners. More to the left, under a deep saddle of the pass Garvash, hangs down an icefall. Opposite it, on the left side of the glade is seen a glacier, above it — a saddle of the Gumachi pass, lower along the glade, by high rocky Koiavgan-bashi summit, is viewed narrow snow lobby of the Koiavganaush pass. It seems vertical, though actually not so is abrupt, the mountain outlook distorts a true picture.
Just opposite, above the port side of the Mestia glacier, on a rock resembling a whale a little is the Mestia hut (3150 m) – a purpose of our hike. We must mount the glacier along the path. Above it there are some more equipped camping.
To go on hiking one can only both at good visibility and reserve of forces and time. Along the glacier make for the “Tail of a Whale». The glacier isn’t steep, but it demands attention. Having bent a rock at the left on a course, we mount it behind along the scree slope.
It takes 4 hours of hiking from Ullu-tau to the Mestia hut. One can overnight in the hut, and if it’s occupied you can put the tents. From the “Tail of a Whale” the whole glade Adyrsu is visible. In the evening above Baksan village white clubs of mist’ll hang. Oblique rays of sunset, breaking between summits, light up bright spots on the slopes. “Tail of a Whale” itself situated in the middle of ice, creates a feeling of flight.
Above the hut there is the Mestia pass for a long time served as a way from Svanetia (Georgia) to Baksan. To cross the pass one needs special climbing equipment. The short way to Black sea. Its closed now. Skitouring on the glacier and descent by big track to the valley. Driving back to hotel in Cheget glade.
- Climbing on the cable car to the station Mir (3500 m).
- Ski-tour to Priyut 11 (4060 m).
- Descent till barrels Gara-Bashi outside the ski slopes.
- Accommodation in base camp Gara-Bashi 3800 m.
From Gara-Bashi to the “Shelter of Eleven” the path is made over the snowfields. The motion direction is the north. Don’t deviate of the path because the glacier on which the path is made has many crevasses covered by snow. The route to the “Priut 11″ is marked with poles and sticks. There are masked cracks, therefore it is not recommended to go aside the path. An altitude of the Priut-11 is 4200 m. The transition takes 2 – 3 hours.
After the rest skiing down to the Gara-Bashi along the ascent line. Dinner in the huts.
- Ski-tour to the Pastukhov rocks (4800 m).
- Spare day, preparation for the ascent.
Training and acclimatization ascent to the Pastukhov rocks (4800m) along the snow-ice field, between two rocky ridges. To obtain an acclimatization effect, it is necessary to spend day and nights at a height of about four thousand, while on the first day a training ski tour to the Pastukhov rocks is made. Return to the Gara-Bashi base.
- Climbing Elbrus to the West (5642 m).
- Descent to Shelter 11 — to the barrels of Gara-Bashi 3800 m.
Climbing to the top of Elbrus (5642 m). Early morning begins the ascent to mount Elbrus. The start of the ascent is scheduled for 2 am. The way goes in direction of the Pastukhov’s Rocks (4,800 m) over the snow-ice field. Then to the saddle of Elbrus, here tourists have one hour rest and go to the Western or Eastern summit.
There is a snow tractor – special mountain tractor, which can take till Pastukhov’s Rocks 4800 m in several minutes.
From the Pastukhov’s Rocks the ascend route directly ups 300-400 meters and then smoothly turns left across the slope and reach the saddle.
It takes 6 or 8 hours from the barrels Gara-Bashi to the saddle. On the left side of the saddle, under the west summit slopes, near the beginning of the snow mould the hut construction is situated. At the distance of 250 – 300 meters above the hut the route turns left from the saddle and over the snow slope with the simple rock places up to the rock shoulder. From the shoulder over the wide horizontal plateau comes to the round on the Mount Elbrus west summit (5,642 meters). It takes 1,5 or 2 hours from the saddle to the summit. It takes 5,5 or 6 hours for the descent to the Gara-Bashi going along the ascent line.
- Descent to the hotel.
- Preparing for departure.
Skiing over the Cheget slopes. In case of free day we can transfer to resort Nalchik – capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, with visiting of hot springs. Hotel accommodation 3* in park area. Evening excursion around the city. Dinner in the park.
- Transfer to airport MinVody or Nalchik.
|Airport transfer (railway station) Nalchik/Minvody — Elbrus region — airport (railway station).|
|Accommodation in a hotel in the Elbrus region, according to the program 6 days (breakfast, lunch packages, dinner).|
|Accommodation at a mountain summit camp Gara-Bashi, according to the program 3 days.|
|Three meals a day in high camp + lunch packages.|
|Ascent by cable cars to summit-camp Gara-Bashi (according the program). Gondola and chairlift cable cars.|
|All internal transfers.|
|Guide instructor throughout the route (english speaking).|
|Extra guides for the day of climbing, one guide for 3-4 climbers.|
|Cook at the mountain base of Gara-Bashi.|
|Resort fees, Elbrus National Park.|
|Visa support letters and visa registration.|
|Rental of personal equipment.|
|Ratrak/snowcat for the day of ascent to the Pastukhov rocks.|
|COST||56 000 rubles.|
|REQUIRED EQUIPMENT FOR EXPEDITION — ELBRUS SKI TOUR CLIMB|
|Skis, snowboard, alpine equipment: