Trekking route: Azau glade 2350 m – Bolshoy Azau glacier (Big Azau) – “Sand Hotel” 2700 m – Echo of War pass 3250 m – Azau glade (Length – 14 km, duration – 2 days/1 night).
The program will let admire natural resources – the Bolshoy Azau glacier. It is located in a deep gorge and is the biggest from the glaciers of the Elbrus region. The last century is rapidly retreating, leaving a natural mass of dead ice.
We are going for an exciting trekking to the Azau glacier to the waterfall and lake of the same name. The route is simple, lasting 2 days. By cable car we can go up to the Stary Krugozor station. Further along the moraine to the Small Azau glacier. At the very foot of the glacier there is a lake and offers an incredible view of the Greater Caucasus Range.
Day 1: To the Bolshoi Azau glacier, till Sand Hotel glade (2700 m)
You’ve probably heard that ice slowly flows from the glacier’s feeding area down into the valley, where it gradually melts. If the mass of melted ice is replenished by falling snow, the glacier is in equilibrium. If snow accumulation slows down, the glacier begins to retreat. If at the same time the flow of ice does not reach the end of the glacial tongue, then the ice on it stops moving, becomes dead and can separate from the living, flowing ice. This creates a new, shorter tongue. All this can be seen on the Bolshoy Azau glacier.
The path to the Azau valley starts from Azau glade. Along the path and the river past the lower station of the Elbrus cable car. It remains on the right along the way, on the crest of a moraine overgrown with forest, left by the receding Bolshoi Azau glacier.
You can also go down to the river bank from the lift along a steep path or go forward from it to Elbrus.
The forest gradually thins out, from the hillock opens the entrance to the Azau gorge, squeezed by sheer cliffs on both sides. Their color is very different: there is a border between the dark volcanic rocks of Elbrus and the lighter rocks of Main Caucasian Range.
In the gorge on the right above the path rises hexagonal columns made of dark diabase with white patches. The columns are somewhat reminiscent of organ pipes. In cloudy weather, when the black color of the rocks is especially saturated and the waves of gray fog cling to the stone columns, the picture takes on a fantastic shade. There may be sun over Baksan at this moment, and the distant sky, turning blue between a veil of fog and a bubbling river, completes the picture.
Not far from the entrance to the gorge from the Maly Azau glacier a stream breaks down with a waterfall. Soon the gorge widens. An icefall is visible ahead, by which the Bolshoy Azau glacier descends from the Hotyutau plateau. Here you need to stay away from the slope: rockfalls are not uncommon from it. At the bottom of the gorge, back in the early 70s, there was a torn off dead tongue of a glacier.
In a 1.5 hour walk from the Azau glade, we cross the stream flowing from the lake under the Maly Azau glacier. The lake lies on a moraine high above them. The water in the stream is slightly mineralized. There is a smell of sulfur in the air – this is the sleeping Elbrus volcano.
A little further down the valley, the river receives a tributary from the Chiper-azau Glacier on the right. A few more hundred meters, and the path ends up against a black wall of dead ice on the tongue of the glacier. A river bursts out of the ice grotto with a roar.
You can climb along the rocks on the scree and moraine to the glacier. You need to be careful: there is ice under a thin layer of stones and clay. On it there are pieces of native sulfur. It is dangerous to go higher because of the hidden cracks.
Look around you. Here a brook rings, a small river flows right along the glacier, stones rustle, falling off the faults. Sometimes in the thickness of the ice something hoots and creaks: the glacier lives, moves.
Climbing the glacier, we cross it along the border of live and dead ice to the right bank, where a path is visible on the slope of the moraine, and go along the moraine towards the tributary of the Azau River, flowing from Chiperazau glacier. Turning into the tributary valley, we climb a sandy-pebble terrace with traces of bivouacs and transparent streams. This place is called “Sand Hotel” (2700 m).
The ascent from the Azau glade takes about 3 hours.
From the “Sandy Hotel” in the upper reaches of the glacier, two similar peaks are visible: right along the way – Azaubashi, left – Chiperazau. From Azaubashi to the “Sand Hotel” a rocky ridge extends, ending with a pyramidal peak above the Bolshoy Azau glacier. To the left of it is the pass Echo of War.
At 300 m to the west, a grassy slope begins, leading to a small green terrace with a stream and traces of bivouacs. Here we stop for the night. Make camping. Both peaks are visible from the terrace, framing the Echo of War Pass 3250 m.
Day 2: To the pass Echo of War 3250 m.
Leaving the bivouac equipment and taking warm clothes, we start climbing along the stream to the snowfield. We walk along the snowfield, carefully trampling the steps, leaning on the alpenstock. The legs are placed smoothly into the finished steps in order to save the steps for those walking behind. The broken step is sprinkled with snow and trampled down again.
Behind the snowfield, a short scree leads to the pass.
The ascent to the pass from the bivouac takes 2.5 hours. Considering that the weather often deteriorates in the evening, the climb from the Sandy Hotel should be continued no later than 12 o’clock. If you go to the pass in the morning, you will have to plan an early exit (at 7 o’clock) in order to have time to return to Azau.
Commemorative plaques to the defenders of the Caucasus are installed on a wide saddle. There is a small lake near the pass. Behind the pass there is a huge ice field, dotted with furrows from melt water – this is Hotyutau Plateau. The double-headed Elbrus rises above it. At the far end of the plateau is the lowering of the Hotyutau pass. Behind you can see the Baksan valley with snowless ridges above the valleys of the Irikchat and Kyrtyk rivers. Fully scans the arc surrounding the “Sand Hotel”, opposite, in a deep circus, lies the Chegetkara glacier, to the right – a wide snow saddle Chiper Pass, closer – Chiperazau and Azau passes.
The descent is carried out along the path of ascent. Down the snow we must go facing the valley, heels deeply in snow and leaning on an alpenstock. It is impossible to go one above the other: a broken one can knock down those going below. In case of a fall, you should not be scared, slide down with your feet, braking with an alpenstock. Be careful when entering the Bolshoy Azau glacier and when descending from it, do not throw stones on those walking below.
It will take 2-2.5 hours to return to Azau from the place of overnight stay.
*The tour can be realized with a group from 4 pax.
Tour price includes:
tents and camping for 1 night (delivery and setting)
all food in camp: breakfasts and dinners, lunch packages
Trekking pole rental;
all program transport services;
transfers (to/from city or airport).
personal equipment rental.
Trekking tour does not require exceptional physical fitness, just good health is enough. From the equipment you also do not need any specialized things, here is a short list of what you need:
Sleeping bag and mat. Comfortable clothing for movement, preferably with covered arms and legs, for hiking. Warm clothes, the temperature in the evening at these altitudes can drop to zero degrees even in summer (usually around +10 in the evening, but it can be humid). Raincoat, or waterproof layer of clothing, in case of rain. A cap, (can be buff, or another headdress), can be with a visor to better protect your face from the sun. Sunglasses. Sunscreen. A middle backpack (for clothes, water and food on a hike). Headlamp. Trekking poles or regular ski poles (can be rented from us).
Full list of equipment and clothes please see in a tab.
|PRICE||15’000 rubles per person|
|DEPARTURE TIME||any day by booking|
|DURATION||2 days / 1 night|
|AMOUNT IN THE GROUP||from 4 pax|
|INCLUDED IN THE PRICE||
|You must have all gear enumerated in equipment list.
Important to know! If weather conditions are unfavorable for the tour, then changes to the planned route are possible, including the day and time of departure.
List of personal trekking equipment
Clothes and shoes
Jacket, windproof coat, light.
Lightweight shirt with long sleeves (protects against burning of the arms and neck)
Hiking pants, light
Cap / panama hat
Waterproof clothing and/or raincoat
baseball cap for trekking (with protective brim covering the neck from the sun).
Fleece 2 pcs (thin and thicker)
Trekking socks (medium and thick) 2-3 pairs.
Trekking telescopic poles (rental included)
Jacket Gore-Tex or any other membrane
Pants Gore-Tex or any other membrane
Alpine sunglasses (protection 3-4)
Backpack 60 l.
Thermos 0.5-1 l.
Safety & Personal Care
Sunscreen and lipstick (Prot 50).
Individual first aid kit. Mandatory: elastic bandage, plaster.
Personal care products
Plastic bottle 0.5 l (for drinking water on the route)
Mug, spoon, plate, knife (for caming in the mountains, for tea a non-breakable mug)
Backpack for walking (20-25 liters). In the backpack – personal belongings and products for lunch, which are issued by the instructor (400-600 gr)
*Equipment can be rented on the spot for an additional fee.
|Transfer airport (city) Nalchik/Minvody – airport or city|
|Tents and camping 1 night|
|Trekking pole rental|
|Intra-route transport services|
|Resort fees, Elbrus National Park, Visa support|
|Breakfast, lunch bags, dinners|
|Additional personal equipment|
|COST||15 000 Rubles|