Mineralny Vody — Terskol — Elbrus — Terskol — Mineralny Vody
Why go there?
Elbrus belongs to a handful of mountains with a very special and irresistible kind of beauty which lies in their shape and setting. Most of them are volcanoes, such as Fujiyama, Ararat and Kilimanjaro, and like all these, this mountain is a world apart. It stands 11km north from the Main Range and exceeds its neighbors in height by 1200-2000m. The views from both the summits are breathtaking: to north it is a rolling carpet of pastures veiled by the blue haze of distance and on all the other sides the sea of snowy peaks. It is said that through the clear air of autumn you can see both the Black and Caspian seas.
Day 1 Today we fly (2hr) from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody, which is the gateway to the Caucasus. From there we go for 3.5-4hr in a private bus on a pretty good asphalted road across plains, through small towns and villages into the Baksan valley, up to its head to one of the best hotels of the area, not far from the village of Terskol. Hotel.
Day 2 In the morning we go to the Cheget Glade. The place is the social centre of the valley, the busiest in the area. The main feature is the seven-storey Cheget Hotel dominating the cluster of cafes, smaller hotels (all of them private), woollies market and sports ground. Above all this rise the formidable north walls of Donguzorun (4400m) and Nakra (4200m) peaks. The first run of Cheget cableway to «Cafe Ai» station (2,750m) takes 15 minutes. The cafe offers very good view (even though much replicated in web sites and booklets) of the two summits of Elbrus across the deep and green Baksan Valley. There is one more chair-lift to a shoulder (3,080m) on the ridge of Lesser Donguzorun peak (3860m), an even better view point for Elbrus again. We come to this point and can venture a bit higher along the rocky ridge. Return to hotel. Hotel.
Day 3 We go in a bus to Azau staion (2356m) of Elbrus car-cableway and the two runs take us to Mir station (3500m), where a chair-lift takes over to bring us to Garabashi huts (3750m) called Bochki («barrels»). We put up either there or higher up in the new Refuge, not far from the ruins of the old one at 4060m (built in the 30-ties and destroyed by fire in 1998). In the afternoon we go for an easy acclimatizing walk to Pastukhov Rocks (4750m) and descend to the hut. Hut.
Day 4 Day of rest and preparation. Hut.
Day 5 The long and hard day of the ascent of West Summit. From the saddle between the two summits a snow slope of 30-35? (about 150m) leads to the summit plateau, from where the stunningly contrasting views to south and north open up. With return to the hut the climb takes 1-14hr.
Day 6 Reserve day to make up for bad weather on the planned day of ascent. Hut / Hotel
Day 7 We come down to find shower and comfort of the hotel. Party in the evening. Hotel.
Day 8 Bus drive to Mineralny Vody and fly to Moscow. End of trip.