Mount Elbrus

Mount Elbrus Trip Report (#14491)

  • Signed By: Jim Diorio
  • Date submitted: December 29, 2001

We Four Americans, (2 expert climbers and 2 average climbers) left Boston on September 5, summited Elbrus on September 12, and returned to Boston on September 20. We used Pilgrim Tours for our Guide Service. They were great. They know the mountain and the local people very well. All reservations were made over the Internet and we wired our money via Western Union. We made all of our connections with no problems. We stayed in the Rossia Hotel in Moscow for the beginning and end of our trip. We visited Red Square and the Kremlin while in Moscow. I would recommend considering the return trip through Saint Petersburg for another city to visit.

The trip from Moscow to Elbrus was an interesting 8 hours, but we made it. Warning: Do not use the bathrooms at Mineralyne Vody Airport. They haven't been cleaned in years. We stayed at the Azua Lodge at the foot of Elbrus, Elev 7,200' for the first 3 days. Housekeepers were great, food was plentiful and rooms were adequate. We then took two day-hikes to acclimate. On the third day, we moved camp to the Barrels at Elev 12,000'. We all took Diamox (125 mg twice a day), and had no problems with altitude sickness. But the acclimation hikes are also very important.

From the Barrels we took two more day-hikes up towards Elbrus to acclimate. On the fifth day, we left the Barrels at 2:00 AM for the Summit. The morning was about 15 degrees F, cold wind, and clear. The half moon was just above the horizon. At 6:00 AM, the sunrise was spectacular. We arrived at the Saddle, known to some as the Cleavage, at 10:00 AM. Now it was about 40 degrees and sunny. After a 10 minute rest, we headed up the west summit. Arrived at Elbrus Summit, Elev 18,510', at 12:30 PM. (10 1/2 hours after starting from the Barrels). The views were great. We stayed on the summit for only 25 minutes, taking pictures and eating sandwiches. We then took our 5 hour descent back to the Barrels. Almost 16 hours later, we arrived back at the Barrels, safe and sound, and feeling great about our success.

We met climbers from 18 countries around the world. What a great experience and adventure this climb was. Before Elbrus, the highest I have climbed was New Hampshire's Mount Washington at 6,288'. And on top of it all, I celebrated my 50th birthday while at Elbrus. I highly recommend Elbrus as a mountain to climb. Pilgrim was great to climb with. Due to the USA terrorist attacks, (which we did not hear of until September 14), we had to stay in Moscow a few extra days waiting for the US airports open up. We made it home safely on September 20. God Bless America.

If you are planning on climbing Elbrus, I would gladly answer any questions for you. With the proper training and acclimation, I'm sure you can successfully make this climb.

Good Luck, Jim

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