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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2013 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  June 2013 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 13-18, 2013, Mt. Elbrus, Russia
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Author Topic: June 13-18, 2013, Mt. Elbrus, Russia  (Read 1925 times)

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June 13-18, 2013, Mt. Elbrus, Russia
« on: 07/01/13, 05:15 PM »

Lance and I went to Russia to climb and ski what's considered the highest mountain in Europe, Mt. Elbrus (5642 m/18,510 ft). Elbrus is in the Caucasus mountain range in southwestern Russia, very near the border with Georgia. We've skied some of the Cascade volcanoes and figured that this big old volcano should be accommodating to skiing as well.

We used a local guiding service called Pilgrim Tours. Unless you speak Russian and have the patience to deal with all the bureaucracy and logistics on your own, this is the way to go. We had four acclimatization hikes, going to higher altitudes each time, before the summit climb. We stayed at the Barrels camp at 3800 m/12,467 ft, which is near the top of the ski lifts. From there you can even pay to be brought as high as 4800 m in a snowcat on the summit day. We opted to hike on our skis from the Barrels, making it a 1842 m/6043 ft ascent starting at 1:00am.

The weather had been marginal but we lucked out with a window of good conditions for our summit climb. We reached the top at 10:00 and were skiing by 10:30. By then the convective clouds had come up to us and it was snowing. For most of the descent we had poor visibility and a couple of inches of fresh snow. The best skiing was during the acclimatization hikes on the previous days when it was sunny and warm.

Being one of the seven summits, Elbrus is a busy mountain and not the place for a pristine wilderness experience. But the overall experience is a fine adventure in a part of the world that's quite different from here, yet there's that shared enthusiasm for the mountains. And you can get in lots of vertical in June.

More pics can be found here:

* Elbrus1.jpg (118.25 KB, 778x584 - viewed 501 times.)

* Elbrus2.jpg (124.74 KB, 778x584 - viewed 516 times.)

* Elbrus3.jpg (74.38 KB, 778x584 - viewed 509 times.)
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