Mount Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe. Many assume this to be Mt. Blanc which is the highest in Western Europe, but the European continent extends to the Ural Mountains, and Elbrus is on the European side of that continental divide. The climb is Kilimanjaro placed into an industrial freezer. Although the altitude is slightly lower than Kilimanjaro, the ice and snow demands proficiency with plastic boots, crampons and an ice axe skill. The colder weather and tougher terrain makes Elbrus summit day a challenging & cold climb. Winter skills in advance is a must.
5642m / 18,512ft
Completed June 2008
Mount Elbrus is located in a remote area of south-west Russia near the border of Georgia, so few travelers visit this region other than for mountaineering purposes. In general, the climbers on Elbrus will have more experience and be in much better shape compared to those found on Kilimanjaro. On the other hand, some of these same climbers might be physically prepared but still underestimate this mountain.
In mountaineering terms, Elbrus is not considered dangerous, but inexperienced climbers and poorly organised expeditions usually push the annual death toll to twice than of Mt. Everest. This is not an easy mountain but it gave us a terrific and challenging introduction to cold expedition conditions. From our team of four climbers, two reached the summit in June 2008 in weather so cold that water in our backpacks froze and access to food became very difficult. This was an excellent lesson in the nuances of managing gear and supplies in extreme cold.