The Savvy Way to Experience Mt. Elbrus & the Caucasus

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ELBRUS CLIMBING TOURS

Your weather guide to pick the best season for your tour.

These are the coldest months of the year at Elbrus and except for the most extreme winter climbers, no one is climbing Elbrus at this time of year.  If you’re looking to experience the ski slopes of Elbrus, this is the time for you to do it.  If you’re wanting to climb Elbrus, plan your trip during the summer months.  

Season: This 50-day window is when the world’s most extreme skiers come to Elbrus for ski-touring!  While the bottom slopes of Elbrus are starting to get slushy and melt as the calendar works into May, there are still great opportunities for back-country skiing in the Adir-Suu Gorge on the Russian border with Georgia, culminating with a summit attempt of Elbrus and descent on skis. 

Weather: Conditions in April/May can vary greatly, from snowy and cold to sunny and warm.  Cloud cover, storms, and fog on Elbrus can be common in this time, but like at any time of year, the weather at such an elevation is unpredictable at best.

Keep in Mind: Ski-touring requires lots of advance planning, especially with an up-to-date passport and applying for your Russian visa 3 months before your trip, to ensure having enough time to receive a special permit to venture into Russia’s “border zone” with Georgia for the acclimatization portion of your back-country ski-tour. 

Availability: The busy season for skiers has passed at this point, and climbing season has yet to move into full force, so April and May are nice times to be at Elbrus, without being surrounded by hundreds of other climbers at base camp.  You shouldn’t have any problem getting 3-star or 4-star lodging during these months, including at base camp’s finest “Leaprus” barrel huts.

Season: These 3 months are the “shoulder” season for climbing Elbrus.

Weather: May tends to be one of the rainier months of the year at the bottom of Elbrus, although at base camp this tends to be a different story (i.e. snow in May, not rain).  September often has pretty clear skies.  October’s weather is a bit more unpredictable but there are still climbers heading to the summit then.  May, September, and October are climbing months in that the weather is warm enough, but they are still significantly colder than June-August, so be prepared for this. 

Keep in mind : All major climbing companies schedule their annual Elbrus climbs between June-August.  The reason for this is having the best chance of summit success for their climbers, in regards to warmer weather and lower chance of thunderstorms/blizzards.  While this doesn’t always hold true at such a high elevation, be aware of this if planning a summit in the shoulder season.  The tourist crowds are often a bit smaller in May, September, and October, though in Moscow & St. Petersburg, so you can tag on extra days to your trip and explore Russia’s cultural capitals up north.

Availability: These are much slower months on the mountain, as the summer rush to the summit tends to get busiest between June-August.  You will likely still be able to find a good guide and lodging at the last-minute, just make sure you give yourself enough time to process your Russian visa for your trip! 

Season: These 3 months are high season at Mt. Elbrus!  All major climbing companies schedule their annual trips in these months, especially in July.

Weather: These are the months that tend to give the best chance for groups to summit:  warm and sunny days, with less chance of long thunderstorm fronts.  Late July into August especially can produce warm summit days with very slushy snow at base camp and even on the first few hundreds of feet to climb.  We can’t guarantee good weather in these months, but it’s worth scheduling your summit in this time period, to give yourself the best chance of success!

Keep in mind: June-August is the warmest weather of the year up north in Moscow & St. Petersburg, so these are often great months to explore these cities while you’re already in Russia climbing Elbrus. 

Availability: July-August especially are very busy on Elbrus.  If you are wanting to book a private climb, then the earlier you can plan, the better (to ensure availability).  If you’re wanting to climb in these months, then often joining a public group is a great option, as accommodations will have already been reserved in advance, even joining at the last-minute.  The nicer, more popular hotels (Azau-Star, Povorot, Leaprus, etc.) will often fill up by springtime for July-August, so do your best to plan in advance.  The same goes for booking accommodations in Moscow & St. Petersburg…..the early bird gets the worm!

Our experts living in Russia share their experience.

Is Mt. Elbrus a Technical Climb?

Mount Elbrus, the crown jewel of the Caucasus Mountain Range, is the highest peak in Europe, making it one of the coveted 7 summits. It is often the second of the Seven Summits attempted by climbers. Note that in every picture the mountain appears to be covered in snow……pictures all taken during Russia’s infamously long and icy winters, right? No, even during the summer (when the lower elevation areas of the Caucasus Mountains reaches 95F or 40C), Mt. Elbrus is shrouded in snow and ice which flow off in glaciers down every side of the mountain.

Climbing Elbrus & Kilimanjaro – How the First 2 of the 7 Summits compare

Although there is no mandated order in which the Seven Summits must be climbed, many climbers elect to start with Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro based on its relative ease of accessibility and the mountain’s reputation for being the “easiest” of the seven summits.  Following a successful summit of Kilimanjaro, most climbers will likely select Europe’s highest peak, Mt. Elbrus, or Aconcagua (South America) for their second summit.

Is The North Caucasus Safe?

From our years of experience, we have found that it is highly unlikely that you will be put in any danger in the North Caucasus region of Russia. Our two American representatives on the ground have lived a combined 9 years in the region with their wives and young children, and are happy to call it home. It is one of Russia’s most beautiful regions with a growing tourism infrastructure and is definitely worth visiting!

START PLANNING YOUR ELBRUS CLIMB

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“Thank you Andrew & Beyond Red Square team for helping make our Elbrus experience exceptional. Andrew and his team were extremely attentive and responsive (always within 24 hours) throughout the planning phase. Sergey [our guide] proved to be mountaineer savvy, had years of Elbrus experience. Thank you again BRS!
Nicolas.
(Aug. 2019)