10 days program with hiking in Irik-chat valley – one of the most beautiful in the Caucasus. Not difficult routes and motorways, passes in the pine forests and alpine meadows. Such trek is good for physical training and acclimatization before Elbrus summit.
This 10-day tour is designed also for tourists — beginners, with little experience in mountain hiking and high-altitude ascents. For those who want to wander through the mountain gorges and feel the spirit of the Caucasus Mountains.
Acclimatization in the Irik-Chat valley with ascent to Chatkara 3914 m from the Irik-Chat pass 3667 m.
The Irikchat Gorge is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful in the Elbrus region. The valley is located between the southeastern and eastern spurs of Elbrus. During the entire journey, the snow-white eastern peak of Elbrus rises ahead. A good route gives good physical preparation before climbing Elbrus.
The program provides an excellent opportunity to diversify the acclimatization plan to prepare for the ascent to Elbrus from the South. The gorge is located in close proximity to the mountain Elbrus, as well as from the place where climbers stay before the beginning of the climbing program to Elbrus. The trek is designed for two days, with spending the nights at an altitude of 3000 m in a tent camp. It’s quite long and beautiful hike line, which allows on foot to pass just in two days way from the Upper Baksan forest area to the eternal ice fields of the eastern slopes of Mount Elbrus, which are adjacent to the pass Irik-Chat, which is our way on the second day in order to climb to the top Chatkara 3914 m.
The Irik-Chat pass is one of the closest to ring of passes around Elbrus, it is surrounded by glaciers flowing directly from the slopes of Elbrus — Irik-Chat glacier on the south side, and the huge Jikaugenkez ice field — on the north. The trek allows, along with the necessary gain of altitude (Chatkara 3914), to train your legs very seriously. It will take a lot of walking here, though not too hard. There are no dashing climbs «in front» (perhaps the most dashing is to the pass — it is steep, but short), but there are long distances, lovers of «walking» in anticipation of the main mountain — this trek will be to your taste. Perhaps your legs will get pretty tired, but the views that open from the Irik-Chat pass, and further from Chatkara, are worth it, and the body at the time of climbing the main Mountain will later thank you for all this. Here Elbrus is very close, you can see the Achkeryakol lava flow — the line along which Elbrus is climbed from the East. Kalitsky Peak is visible, from the pass to it is a stone’s throw.
However, due to the distances, people who train on the flats from time to time, or do not train at all, or are in the mountains for the first time, should think three times before choosing this particular trek. If you train quite fiercely and diligently, in the most regular way (your anaerobic threshold, or the threshold of anaerobic metabolism in this case will not be lower than 170-180 beats / min in running or walking, and the resting heart rate is not higher than 55-60 beats / min), then you are here.
This hike is not technically difficult and does not require special climbing equipment. All you will need on the hike (and what you will need to take care yourself) is a sleeping bag, mat, clothes (for more details, see the article about trekking clothes and ascents), personal hygiene items (sunscreen, sunscreen lipstick), sunglasses, headlamp, personal first aid kit, trekking poles. The total weight of the backpack is unlikely to exceed 10 kg. Camping equipment, its delivery, kitchen, groceries, cooking — are provided by our KavkazSkiTur team. Sleeping bag, sleeping mat — in case of absence of something, you can rent it from us.
Meeting at the airport MinVody or Nalchik, transfer to Elbrus region to a private hotel on the Cheget glade. Accommodation and dinner.
Acclimatization hike to the Irick-chat gorge, till the tongue of the glacier (3000 m). Tent camp.
The rise to the pass Irik-Chat 3667 m (about 2-3 hours). Ascent to Chatkara Mountain 3914 m (one hour from the pass). Descent to the camp along the path of ascent (2-3 hours). Dinner, rest, overnight in tents.
Descent down to the hotel, rest, preparing clothes and equipment.
Transfer to Azau. Climbing to tourist’s hotel “Gara Bashy” (3800 m) by cable-ways “Elbrus” and “Gara-Bashi”. Acclimatization hike till base “Priut 11” (4200 m). Returning to Gara-Bashi.
Climbing for acclimatization to Pastukhov’s rocks (4800 m). Returning to tourist’s hotel “Gara Bashi”. Dinner.
Relaxation. Preparing for the night of the ascent.
The night/day of the ascent to the summit Elbrus (5642 m).
Reserve day in case of bad weather and force majeure. Descent into the valley.
In case of successful ascent — Free day.
Transfer to airport Mineralnye Vody. Departure to Moscow.
- Guaranteed meetings and transfers from Mineralnye Vody or Nalchik any day and time.
- No additional fees for transfers.
- You can also join the group later or leave early with a refund of unused nights from the hotel.
- Convenient number of tourists in groups from 3 pax to 10 pax (maximum).
- Support from our KavkazSkiTour office around the clock in the city of Nalchik, with a close location to Elbrus, which allows quickly resolve any issues that arise during the trip.
- Safety support and quick contact with medical, emergency and insurance agencies.
- Most professional high experienced guides on mount Elbrus with good english speaking.
The road to the Elbrus region begins with an air flight to the airports of Mineralnye Vody or Nalchik. The nearest railway stations are Nalchik, Pyatigorsk, Prokhladny, Mineralnye Vody. Then there is a direct road connection to the Elbrus region. Travel time from the Mineralnye Vody to the Elbrus region is 3-4 hours. From Nalchik 2 hours. We check into a hotel, have dinner, get acquainted with the guide, preliminary theoretical preparation for an acclimatization hike in the Irik-Chat gorge with an overnight stay in tents. Dinner.
Start from the village of Elbrus 1800 m (early in the morning).
Ascent to the «hanging valley» of the Irik river, the road goes through the pine forest.
Exit from the forest (about 2200 — 2300 m).
Ascent to the «hanging valley» of the Irik-Chat river (about 2500 m).
Hike up to 3000 m, setting up camp.
The duration of the transition is about 6-8 hours.
You need to take clothes with you for overnight stays in tents. The day will be long and hard. The approximate distance to the tent camp is about 15 km. The climb is about one kilometer.
The valley of the Irik River is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful in the Elbrus region. The river flows out of the glacier of the same name and flows into the Baksan near the village of Elbrus. The valley is located between the southeastern and eastern spurs of Elbrus. Its level is 500 m higher than the Baksan valley. Before flowing into Baksan, the river flows in a deep canyon, the slopes of which are covered with pine forest.
The route starts on the northern outskirts of the Elbrus village (1770 m) near the power transmission tower on the left bank of the Irik. There are two trails from here. The first bypasses the bottom of the rocky outcrops on the left side of the valley and after 25 minutes leads to the springs of mineral water narzan. The second goes along the grassy slopes above the rocky outcrops to a sloping clearing with a stream. The springs of narzan are 50 m lower, it is not difficult to go down to them. On this section of the route, be especially careful, as even a small stone carelessly pushed aside on steep grassy slopes can cause a lot of trouble. From the glade we rise in the direction of huge mushroom-shaped remnants of yellow sandstone. Steep screes give way to slopes overgrown with a century-old pine forest, over which Elbrus rises with a white dome . Snow-white peaks appear as theatrical scenery — Dzhan-Tugan (4012m), Ullukara (4302m), Bzhedukh (4163m) , Eastern Ushba (4697m) etc. The trail traverses the slope of the valley and enters the pine forest. There are a lot of mushrooms and berries here.
Having passed the glade with the coshi, the tourists intercept some gullies and descend to the Irik river. In 3,5 hours from the village they reach the edge of the forest (2250m). On the background of Mt. Elbrus the glacier Irik is seen.
Continue the rout to the upper reaches of the Irik river.
Over the path of the left bank it is necessary to leave to the coshi, located above a coalescence of the Irik River with the left influx Irik-Chat, then cross over the bridge to the right bank of the Irikchat. On the flat glade grown with grass, by the coalescence of both rivers, there are a lot of ground-squirrel holes. The path leads up to the right bank of the river Irik, and then along it – to the tongue of the glacier (3000 m). Here, about an ice cave, from which the river outflows, the path ends.
Irik glacier is visible against the background of Elbrus. Here the hike ends — a halt, setting up a camp, preparing dinner.
Ascent to the Irik-Chat pass 3667 m (about 2 — 3 hours).
Ascent to Chatkara Mountain 3914 m (from the pass — one hour) along the western ridge (1B category, in some places a trail is guessed).
Descent to the camp on the way up (2-3 hours). Lunch.
The camp at 3000 m is a cozy meadow, next to a river and a spring water source with a small pool. The glade is located on the upper border of the alpine meadows of this gorge, further along the path stones already begin. All along the route to this point there is a very comfortable, well-filled trail, which allows trained people to keep a very good speed of movement. From the camp 3000 m till the pass and to the pass — the path is a little less convenient, due to the rocky «coverage» and periodic small ups, but also readable and well-traveled. The passage along the ridge of Chatkara to the top is also not particularly difficult anywhere. Shoes — trekking, comfortable, mobile. Crampons are not needed.
On the second day, our task is to climb the Irik-Chat pass, which is more than 3643 m high. We leave light, taking only dry rations food and insulation cloths. The trail at first presses against the stream running from the glacier, which makes it difficult to move, but then the terrain widens and we just go to the rocky bottom of the gorge. There is already a feeling of height. Having reached the glacier, we pass it, depending on the time of the year, either along the snowfield covering the glacier, or along the mud-stone cushion, which reliably filled all the cracks. And after that takeoff to the pass!
It makes no sense to describe emotions when the expanse of the Jikiaugenköz glacier with the Kalitsky peak, crowned to the left by the already close Eastern peak of Elbrus, suddenly opens up in front of you. This is a must see! Depending on circumstances and strength, it is possible to traverse one of the nearest peaks from the pass: Ryzhiy Bugor and Chat-Kara, with a height of 3762 m and 3914 m. respectively. After that, descend along the ascent path.
Backpacks will be much lighter, and we are more trained, so the descent will not be noticeable. On the way we will make two stops: at the lower camps and at the Sand Castles. We return to the hotel, dry things, prepare to leave for the intermediate camp to climb Elbrus.
Ascent to the Gara-Bashi base-camp (3800 m): ascent on the Elbrus cable cars, first from the station Azau — st. Stary Krugozor, then on the second st. Stary Krugozor — st. Mir and then on the chairlift to the upper station of Gara-Bashi.
The cable car ascents lasts a little more then an hour. Accommodation at the base-camp, lunch.
Acclimatization hike to Priyut-11 (4200 m).
To «Shelter-11» 40 minutes walk along the path through the snowy fields. North direction. It is strictly forbidden to go off the trail, because the glacier on which the trail is laid is covered in abundance with cracks hidden under the snow. The path leads to the rocks on which the highest mountain hotel in Europe and Russia, the Priyut-11 hotel, was located, which burned down in August 1998 during a sudden night fire. Here the height is 4000 m above sea level.
From «Shelter-11» opens a grandiose panorama of the mountains of the Central and Western Caucasus. Both peaks of Elbrus are visible in the north. In the east, southeast and south, the Main Caucasian Range and its northern spurs are visible. Behind the Main Range, the ranges of Svanetia are visible, in the southwest, behind the Hotyu-Tau bridge, the Western Caucasus and its ranges are visible.
After resting, we descend to the Garabashi base-camp.
Dinner at the base-camp.
Breakfast at the base-camp Gara-Bashi.
Training hike to the Pastukhov rocks (4800 m) along the snow-ice field, between two rocky ridges. Lunch (on the way during one of the stops).
To obtain an acclimatization effect, it is necessary to spend at least two nights at a height, while on the first day a training day to the Pastukhov rocks is made. Return to the Gara-Bashi base.
Early dinner at base-camp.
Preparation of equipment for climbing Mount Elbrus. Instruction on the climb and safety precautions.
We rest, eat and gain strength for the ascent.
Or climbing day depending on the weather conditions and the preparation of the group.
Climbing to the top of Elbrus (5642 m). In the morning begins the ascent to the top. The start of the ascent is planned for 2-3 am. For an additional fee, if desired, you can climb on a snowcat (about 5,000 rubles per person) to the Pastukhov rocks. The ascent takes place along the path to the Pastukhov rocks, or a few minutes of ascent on a snowcat — a special mountain snow tractor, then to the Elbrus saddle, here we rest for 1 hour and go to the Western peak. Descent to the Gara-Bashi base-camp. Descent into the valley.
On this day, we can go for a walk to the Maiden Spit waterfall or climb Mount Cheget and sit in a cozy cafe admiring the crazy views of Mount Elbrus.
|Airport transfer (railway station) Nalchik/Minvody — Elbrus region — airport (railway station).|
|Accommodation in a hotel in the Elbrus region, according to the program 4 days (breakfast an dinner).|
|Accommodation at a mountain summit camp Gara-Bashi, according to the program 3 days (three meals a day + lunch packages).|
|Meals according to the tour program including lunch packages.|
|Camping setup — delivery of tents and meals.|
|Ascent by cable cars to summit-camp Gara-Bashi (1 ascent — 1 descent). Gondola and chairlift cable cars.|
|Inside the route transports.|
|Guide services 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 for the day of ascent to the Pastukhov rocks.|
|COST||56 000 rubles.|
|REQUIRED EQUIPMENT FOR THE EXPEDITION «CLIMBING ELBRUS + TREK TO IRIKCHAT VALLEY»:||GROUP EQUIPMENT:|