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“For an exhilarating experience, visit Elbrus Basecamp and the 11 barrels”
Review of Mount Elbrus

Singapore
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“For an exhilarating experience, visit Elbrus Basecamp and the 11 barrels”
Reviewed 20 August 2010

To visit Elbrus basecamp, it is a lot more convenient to stay in Azau, the highest mountain resort of the area (2356m). A very warm hotel, with wifi, friendly staff and good food [half board is an option] is Meridian hotel, near the cable car.
In the morning between 10am and 11am, before groups arrive, take the series of cable car and chairlift which bring you to 4045m. The famous 11 barrels or Diesel huts, painted with the Russian flag, await you. They are used as accommodations during the acclimatisation period of all the Elbrus summit climbers. Air is thin up there, don't stay too long or you ll get attitude sickness! The twin Elbrus summits, reminiscent of Mount Ararat in Turkey, are magnificent.

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4 Thank GillesSingapore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Highest mountain in Europe”
Reviewed 3 December 2007

It’s an old question: which is Europe’s highest mountain – Elbrus (5,642m) in the Caucasus, or Mont Blanc (4,807m) in the Alps? A team of geographers has determined that Elbrus does indeed belong to Europe, because of the position of the glaciers, although the mountain itself stands on the border with Asia. So Elbrus proudly represents Europe in the challenge of the Seven Summits. It’s far from the hardest mountain to climb; but – hey, how many people do you know who’ve done it?
So here I am, ready to conquer yet another mountain and add one more to my Seven Summits list, or so I hope! I want to experience the sweet feeling of victory again, and prove myself that I’m capable of more than just climbing stairs and carrying shopping bags. And I’ve almost forgotten the other emotion that mountains awaken in me – suffering. Yes, I like suffering – cold, sickness, testing my stamina – you name it! - and the reward afterwards, the feeling of achieving something important in my life. I’m far from being a fitness guru or an extreme climber; certainly not like the famous local old man who has climbed Elbrus 122 times, succeeding the last time at well over 100. His picture hangs on the cable station wall and haunts everybody who attempts the climb: where and what will I be on my 120th birthday? I’m just an ordinary girl who has a few ambitions and likes to boast about her achievements in the pub after a few pints. So after a few discussions and negotiations with my boyfriend, I’m joining Go Russia on their Elbrus group tour and taking off for the Caucasus – a fascinating place that attracts climbers from all over the world.
The Caucasus met us with pleasant Mediterranean-like warmth (the famous Black sea resorts are just around the corner), an excellent local speciality, shashlik (very similar to shish kebab) and friendly locals insisting on offering their goods and services. After just 4 hours drive from Mineralnyje Vody, through beautiful valleys and somewhat daunting towns, we arrive at the village of Terskol, our base for the next few days. The same evening we meet up with our group: three young and energetic British guys, two Germans, myself and one Danish girl. Our Russian guide Pavel is absolutely fanatical about his profession and mountains, although his slogan – no fanaticism! – seems a bit contradictory. The next two days are spent acclimatizing – first hiking up and around the mountains, enjoying stunning views; followed by “horizontal acclimatization” –an afternoon nap; and later in the evening gorging on local delicacies. Honestly, I started to feel as if I was in rehab, and almost forgot why I was here; but I was reminded the next day, when we packed all our climbing stuff and moved on to the Barrels Hut (3,800m). Having reached the Barrels comfortably by cable car and chairlift, we settled in, talked to our fellow climbers, had lunch - and were off to another acclimatization hike, up to Pastukhov rocks (4,600m.). Don’t be fooled by Elbrus’ deceptive calm –half way up we were stopped by the menacing approach of a blizzard and thunderstorm. Pavel’s decision to turn back down was met with joyful approval. As the next day is supposed to be a rest day, to prevent us from hanging around, our guide will take us on the same route again.
Finally we have our summit day - one of the most significant days of my life! Our route follows the normal classic route from the South, a pretty straightforward, non-technical climb. A very early start: 3 am. The transverse route passes the Pastukhova rocks (4690m) then leads up to our first long rest-break , at the Saddle (5416m). Then the last push for a steep 200m or so, and you reach the plateau, from where you can already see the unreal white vision of the summit. On the whole our group has done quite well, not racing up but mounting slowly and steadily to our target; breathing heavily, feeling nauseous, swearing “never ever again” – but hey - that’s all part of the experience! Although we were forced to leave one guy behind with the second guide – youth and fitness don’t guarantee you a successful climb – we did reach the summit as a team! What a feeling – I’m on top of the world, hurray! Well, Europe at least.
The absolutely magnificent, stunning views would make it worth spending hours and hours and hours here. But reaching the summit is only half the battle; most fatalities occur on the descent, when euphoric climbers forget to be cautious. Although Elbrus doesn’t have as tragic a climbing history as other mountains, nor the reputation for luring mountaineers to their death, every year it claims at least 15 – 30 lives, due mostly to poor organization and equipment, or to people over-estimating their strength. We reached the base safely in the late afternoon, too exhausted even to talk; but we still managed to celebrate as only Russians do – with vodka, music, funny stories - and even water melon at this altitude. Who said Russians don’t have style?
One of my last memories was the local food: delicious meals with shashlik (fresh meat grilled on an open fire, that melts in your mouth) washed down by cheap but delicious wine and cold beer, in the local restaurant. The rest of the trip passed very quickly - our transfer to Mineralnue Vody and flight to Moscow; the great time we had discovering the capital’s night life; sightseeing in numerous beautiful domed churches; and the safe flight back home to the UK. At home I watched the Elbrus video and re-enacted the story again and again for my friends, looking at the pictures and smiling at the sudden good memories.
I’ve traveled with Go Russia Travel Company – UK based tour operator. For more details check www.justgorussia.co.uk

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24 Thank EgisVincel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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