In September 2017, working as an Expedition Leader for Adventure Peaks, I lead an expedition to Russia to attempt Mt Elbrus from the South side.

Elbrus, 5642m, Europe’s highest peak and one of the Seven Summits is situated in the dramatic mountain range of the Caucasas.

For photographs of this expedition see Russia: Elbrus

This expedition is arranged by Adventure Peaks

Day 1 International travel via Moscow

Day 2 We arrive late morning in Mineralnye Vody (Mineral Waters) just to the North of the Caucasus mountain range. From here a 4-hour overland journey by road past fields of sunflowers takes us to the Upper Baksan Valley. We arrive at our hotel which will form the main base for the expedition.

Day 3 From our hotel we drive to Verkhniy Baksan, here we leave the main road and take the road as far as possible up the Syltran-Su valley (ideally to 2300m, but will depend on road conditions). At the end of the road we will trek to Lake Syltrankel at 3000m, 3-4 hours, where we will have lunch, set up our overnight camp, refresh skills and relax.

Day 4 Today we make our ascent of Mount Mukal (3899m). We are rewarded with beautiful views across the Baksan valley towards Elbrus.

Day 5 After packing up camp ready for the porters we descend back to the valley and return to the hotel to make our final preparations for the Elbrus summit bid.

Day 6 Today we take the cable car and chair lift to the Barrels at 3800m on Elbrus (also called Bochky or Karabashi), our base for the next few nights to further aid the process of acclimatisation before our summit bid. Whilst on the mountain the accommodation is more basic and excellent food is cooked for us. We do a further short acclimatisation walk to the old burnt down Prijutt Refuge, 4060m.

Day 7 Today our destination is the Pastukov Rocks stretching from 4500-4700m, allowing us to practice crampon work as well as being rewarded with good views of Ushba, one of the most famous mountains of the region, often described as the Matterhorn of the Caucasus. We overnight at the Barrels.

Day 8 Rest day

Day 9 Summit day

We rise in the early hours and prepare for a 3am departure for the highest point of Europe. We obtain a lift by Snowcat to around 4700m. The route from here is a steady climb up to the Sedlowina Saddle, the col between the two peaks of Elbrus. From here the final 300 metres of ascent to the West summit is on steeper snow slopes. The ascent is approximately 8-12 hours round trip. I reach the summit at 10am with six of the seven clients and two local guides. We then return to the Barrels for lunch and then down to our hotel base in the valley to celebrate.

Day 10 Relaxing in Cheget.

Day 11 Morning transfer to Mineralnye Vody and fly to Moscow for late afternoon International flights home.

Categories: MountainTravel


Steve is an international expedition leader taking people on amazing adventures around the world. He holds the prestigious International Mountain Leader Award and also the Summer and Winter Mountain Leader Awards. He is a full member of the BMC, the MTA and the BAIML as well as being an adviser to Mountain Training UK. Steve has travelled extensively on six continents and has a wide experience of mountaineering, trekking, safari, jungle, rafting and canoe expeditions. He works with his own clients and travel companies and takes adults and children on adventurous journeys throughout the world. He has trained at and been assessed by Britain’s National Mountain Centres who are world class in the instruction and coaching of mountaineering professionals. Steve is a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Accredited Expedition Assessor and can assess Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE Expeditions. He is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, has an enhanced DBS disclosure and his own public liability insurance.