Mount Elbrus – One of the Seven Summits
Русская версия Caucasian Dormant Volcano Elbrus situated on the border of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia republics of Russia is not just the highest Russian peak. Since the scholars and politicians still cannot agree about the border between Europe and Asia, Elbrus is often included into the list of “seven summits” as the highest mountain of Europe (another lower candidate for this title is Mont Blanc). Seven summits also include Everest in Nepal/China, Anconcagua in Argentina, McKinley in Alaska, Vvinson in Antarctica, Puncak Jaya in Indonesia, and Kosciuzsko in Australia. Unlike most of the mounts on this list, Elbrus is quite easy and cheap to reach. While the cost of ascending Kilimanjaro is about 1000 euros (since it is obligatory to get the guide and expensive permit for it), Elbrus costs only 10-15 euros (without transport of course, but it is also easy and cheap to organize). We will tell how to save a bit even from this sum.
We’ve already told how to get to Elbrus region and what to see there apart from Elbrus , so now we go straight to the topic of this post.
Even though “Zvezda Elbrusa” where we were staying offers transfer to the cable road stations, we decided to walk. After 1,5 hours we got to the lowest station of Elbrus cable road – Azau , situated 2000 meters above the sea level.
From there one can choose from two options: aerial (old Soviet) and gondola type (modern) lift. The gondola type is not only newer – it works non-stop (you kind of jump into it), unlike the Soviet type which stops and waits for people. The local mountain climbers advised to take a cheaper Soviet option (500 rubles vs. 600 for the gondola type): on the way back nobody checks the tickets, so you may try the gondola one too. By the way, the tickets are still to be kept.
A group of Japanese tourists was climbing up with us carrying provision for four days. There was no overload, so we reached the first transfer station Starii Krugozor 3000 meters above the sea level safely.
There we walked in the tiny museum dedicated to alpinists who died in Elbrus.
We had to wait for the Japanese group to transfer their provision. On the way, their instructor told us that the record of conquering the Elbrus summit was 3 hours 15 minutes without the load. It really seems incredible.
The second change is 3500 meters above the sea level, at Mir station.
To get to the second last station, Garbashi (3750), from here you need to pay 200 rubles more to the cashier to take the ski lift. The rumors say that you may pay 100 rubles to the operator instead, but we did not try. Keep in mind that the last descend by the ski lift from the top is at 15.00. This was our first experience of using of the ski lift, and we really enjoyed it. It is a pity that it is difficult to make pictures due to the fear of dropping the camera and falling yourself.
But when you are finally brave enough to stop seizing by the chair you sit on, starting to move just a little, the road operators remind to you: “Don’t jump down!”
Maybe we just wanted to!
Finally, we are at the Garbashi station. Just before we came to Elbrus, the weather had been rainy, the cable roads were closed, and snow fell on Elbrus (in August). We came when the weather was already sunny, but the snow was still there. We were lucky unlike in the trips to Kazbek or Teide . Planning to go the mountains, always follow the weather forecast, be flexible, and have a plan B in case the weather is not good enough.
So, the sun was blinding, intolerable without the sun glasses. In spite of the snow, as you see, it was not too cold even wearing the sandals.
The top seemed very close, but since we did not even have proper boots (and it is generally strange to conquer the summit wearing the shorts), we walked up only a bit.
The patriotic accommodations for tourists and the tourist themselves:
It was not only Elbrus that was impressive, but also the peaks opposite to it:
Only the ugly buildings on Elbrus spoil the whole picture.
Soon we went back to the middle station looking for the toilet. It was surprising to learn that one of the seven summits of the world has only an ugly a dirty wooden toilet with two holes, big and inconvinient enough to get to the lower station through them. It was too eco, to our minds.
We went to the last station by the modern gondolas; for the fools like us, we would like to mention that the doors in them open automatically. Just some landscapes from gondolas at the end:
The ascend and descend took about two hours; at the bottom there is a market interesting to walk around too. Having finished before the lunchtime, we had some time to see other things around .