Elbrus surroundings: what to see and how to get there | Ants in Pants

Elbrus surroundings: what to see and how to get there

Русская версияThe region around Elbrus – one of the seven summits of the world – is a paradise for hiking and trekking. It really deserves at least a week, even in case you are not a mountain-climber. There are a lot of places to walk to, not only Elbrus. It is great to breathe fresh mountain air, collect mushrooms (which nobody collects here as everywhere in Caucasus) and tea herbs. Here we will tell what to see around Elbrus, how to get there, and where to stay.
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We took marshrutka to Terskol (the “capital” of Elbrus region) from Nalchik (where we had come from Georgia through Vladikavkaz). This is Nalchik bus station and the view of the city. Unfortunately, we did not spend there enough time for the full story.
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Marshrutka to Terskol departs at 13.00 (if it is full it departs earlier). After the settlement Tyrnauz, the road climbs up, and we finally felt that we were going to the mountains when marshrutka started to stall due to the mountain air. The landscape, meanwhile, was impressive, and the weather was constantly changing from rain to sun:
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Unexpectedly, we saw tanks and people in masks on the road; however, it did not influence our trip in any way. Altogether it took about 2 hours.
In Terskol, we stayed in the guesthouse “Zvezda Elbrusa”, quite inexpensive, with a kitchen and pleasant owners. On arrival, we went for a walk to Cheget – a peak not far from Elbrus possible to reach by the cable road too. Since the cable road was already closed, we went on foot, and even though we did not have enough time to reach the top, we did not regret.
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The ascent starts from Cheget glade – the peak foot. By the way, you may see how Cheget foot looks like right now here. The glade has all tourist infrastructure – restaurants, hotels, and a small market. Cheget used to be one of the most popular Soviet ski resorts, and it still remains one of the least equipped and the most extreme one.
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The top of Cheget:
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The ascent is quite steep, and the snow is seen on the neighboring slopes even in July.
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The glacier:
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Soon, however, the rain and wind started. We were lucky to have plastic coats with us. But even they were not enough: the wind tore them. It was also getting dark, so we turn back home.
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In the mountains, one should always remember about avalanches, as this sign (“Danger of avalanches”) reminds. Although remembering is not enough, because if it comes not much will help.
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The next day, after visiting Elbrus (which deserves a separate post), we went for a walk to “Girl’s braids” (“Devichji kosy”) waterfall. Strong travelers may also go further after seeing the waterfall – there is a famous observatory. In general, there are many paths to walk around, but none of them is marked. That is why you should ask every rare tourist you meet on your way whether you are on the right path. You never know when there will be another tourist to ask, so do not miss any of them.
There are at least two waterfalls there, and the path to the “Girl’s braids” starts (if you go from Elbrus to the guest house “Zvezda Elbrusa”) before the electrical substation. You should turn to the left from the main road, and go through the household buildings.
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And then turn to the left again
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A day before our walk, a well-known mountain-climber whom we met on the way, advised to visit the waterfall promising that we would reach it after seven turns. It seems that we made seventy seven turns walking up the steep road under the hot afternoon sun. After about four hours, we simply could not walk any more. At this moment, we met two ladies coming back from the waterfall who said that the waterfall was still far and we would not be able to make it back before dark. They advised to return. That is what we did, having decided that the beauty we saw on the way was already enough.
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And this is the waterfall we never reached:
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Taken from http://www.clamber.ru/
We want to warn the tourists who are as weak as we are: if you are not sure about your physical form, go to the second, closer waterfall. Also, be aware that when a professional mountain-climber suggests you go for a hike somewhere and it takes you two hours, it will take at least twice more (if you are not a professional yourself, of course). We are usually very good at hiking, but this was too hard, as we did not have enough time and went there after quite a walk to and from the Elbrus foot. There are many other entertainments to consider for non-sportsmen: horseback rides to the waterfalls (3 hours), Kyrtyk river gorge, Kyrtykaush pass, Emmanuel glade, etc. Rock-climbing equipment is available for rent here, as well as the climbers themselves ready to share their sacred knowledge for free. But the first and foremost to see here is Elbrus we will certainly tell about next time.

See also:

Mount Elbrus – One of the Seven Summits
Resting on the Beach in Abkhazia: Practicalities