Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia of Russia, near the border with Georgia. Mt. Elbrus’s peak is the highest in the Caucasus Mountains and in Europe.
Elbrus has two summits, both of which are dormant volcanic domes. Mt. Elbrus (west summit) stands at 5,642 metres (18,512 ft), the east summit is slightly lower at 5,621 metres (18,442 ft). The lower of the two summits was first ascended on 10 July 1829 (Julian calendar) by Khillar Khachirov, a Karachay guide for an Imperial Russian army scientific expedition led by General Emmanuel, and the higher (by about 20 m—70 ft) in 1874 by an English expedition led by F. Crauford Grove and including Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker, and the Swiss guide Peter Knubel of St. Niklaus in the canton Valais.
While there are differing authorities on how the Caucasus are distributed between Europe and Asia, most relevant modern authorities define the continental boundary as the Caucasus watershed, placing Elbrus in Europe as its highest mountain.
5642m / 18,512ft
Completed June 2008
This climb is Kilimanjaro in an industrial freezer with potential for fierce weather and wind chill. Although the altitude is slightly lower than Kilimanjaro, the ice and snow environment including glacier climb demands use of plastic boots and extra cold clothing as well as crampons and ice axe proficiency. The colder weather and tougher terrain makes Elbrus summit day a significantly challenging & cold climb. Winter skills training in advance is a must.
In mountaineering terms, Elbrus is not considered technical or dangerous per say, but inexperienced climbers and poorly organised expeditions usually push the annual death toll to twice than of Mt. Everest. This is not an easy climb but it gave us a terrific and challenging introduction to cold expedition conditions. From our team of four climbers, two of us reached the summit in June 2008 in pretty cold conditions. Preparation is key and this was an excellent lesson in the nuance of gear management in extreme cold. The climb is generally straightforward and non-technical, but the weather can be fierce and unforgiving, rapidly changing the risk level. Do not underestimate this climb, it can be extremely challenging and demands preparation and winter mountain skills.