FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CLIMBING MT. ELBRUS

Wild Guanabana - Jul 5, 2021


When you set your heart on climbing Mt. Elbrus, your head buzzes with questions as your surge of excitement gets coupled with rational calculations. We understand it can be distracting. As we have received those questions over the years, we have decided to compile them all here to make sure your concerns are addressed right away. If you have more questions, we will be happy to answer them and add them to the list here.


Pre-booking Questions:


Where is Elbrus?

Elbrus is the highest peak of the Caucasus Mountains and is located in southern Russia just north of the Georgian border. Effectively, then, you travel to Russia to climb Elbrus. 


Do I need a visa?

Yes, most nationalities definitely need a tourist visa to enter Russia. The visa process is a little complicated, depending on your passport. The documents required are not hard to obtain at all; in fact, we send you the invitation letter to print out along with every other required document (online visa application, bank statement, travel insurance, etc). 

Depending on where you live, you may need to first book your appointment or just walk in with your documents in full. For Egyptian-passport holders residing in Cairo, the tourist visa takes 30 days to be issued and you need to go only on a Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:30 AM, Cairo time. For Egyptian-passport holders residing in the UAE or Saudi Arabia, the 30-day waiting period still applies but you must book an appointment. 


For British, American, Emirati and Saudi Arabian passport holders, the process takes 7-10 days and can also be issued urgently in a couple of days. 


Are flight tickets included?
They are not, yet we can help you book your flights. For more information on inclusions and exclusions, please click on the tab Date and Prices.


What is the arrival airport in Russia?

You should arrive at Mineralnye Vody airport (MRV) on the date corresponding to Day 1 in the itinerary.


Will Wild Guanabana arrange PCR tests?

Yes, we will. More details are shared after booking. 


Can the lab provide stamped PCR test results?

Yes, of course.


What are the required vaccines?

None.


What kind of travel insurance plan should I get?

It should be a plan for adventure travel and extreme sports. We recommend BUPA - among others - for Egyptians residing in Egypt and World Nomads for everyone else. 


What’s the fitness level required for climbing Mt. Elbrus?

While previous climbing experience is not strictly required, we do advise that you have done multi-day hiking trips and are comfortable with doing multiple days carrying a backpack. All the skills can be taught on the mountain itself. For more information about a tentative training program, please check page number 5 in the info pack.


What training plan do I need to follow?

We recommend that you follow our training guidelines before the trip so that you can be best prepared before the ascent. We share those with you once you are signed up for the trip.


Pre-climb Questions


When can I climb Mt. Elbrus? What is the best season?

The best season to climb is during the summer, generally from May to September


What is the weather like on the mountain?

The climate of the Caucasus Mountains, in which Mount Elbrus is located, varies both vertically (according to elevation) and horizontally (by latitude and location). Temperature generally decreases as elevation rises. Average annual temperature at sea level is 15 °C while on the slopes of Mt. Kazbek 

at an elevation of 3,700 metres, average annual temperature falls to −6.1 °C

As is the case on any high mountain, a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures should be expected: from freezing-cold nights (down to -5/-10ºC to warm afternoons.


Can I rent some of the gear?

Yes, you can rent almost everything you will need on your expedition from boots to jackets. Check page 10 and 11 in the info pack for more information.


Can I stay connected?

Yup, there is Wi-Fi in each room in the hotels where we stay. You can also do international calls in the Baksan Valley and on Elbrus up to 5000m - although, in both cases, we advise you to use the opportunity to unwind and use your phone sparingly. 


Can I charge my phone, camera, etc?

Yes, you can in the mountain cabins (also known as barrels, or Refuge) as there is electricity there.


What is the food like?

The standard European meals with no pork, as the locals are Muslim. At the hotels, the options cover practically all tastes. In the barrels, we have our own cook, so all the wishes and food restrictions will be taken into account. 


What is the accommodation like before and after the climb?

4 star hotels with English-fluent staff (a rarity in Russia).


What will the rooming be like at the hotels?

Hotel rooms will be double beds, same gender. If anyone would like to upgrade to a single room, we would have to check the hotel’s availability and share the price difference.


What is the accommodation like on the mountain?

In special “barrel refuges” with single beds and enough space for boots, clothes, and gear.


Do we need sleeping bags on the mountain?

The Refuge is heated, but a light sleeping bag is welcome. These can also be rented.


How large is each refuge unit (i.e. number of pax it can accommodate)?

Each refuge unit has 4 sleeping bunks.


Are there toilets on Elbrus other than the ones in the refuge?

No. All the toilets there are outside.


What's the ratio of guides & assistant guides to, say, a group of 8? 

Three guides: the head guide and two assistants.


Will I need to take medication to acclimatize?

You may take Diamox tablets, which is optional for altitude sickness. If you choose to take it, please only take one to two 250mg tablets a day, with enough time between. If you take one tablet, split it in half and take a half in the morning and the other before going to bed. You can always talk to us if you have any concerns.


What is the average number of hiking hours per day?

The first day you arrive is mainly for you to rest after your long flight. After that, for three consecutive acclimatization days leading up to summit days, we hike for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 7 hours. On the day prior to summit day, we rest and recharge. This is what it will look like:

Day 1 - 0 hrs

Day 2 - 3hr up and 1.5-2hr down. We do not recommend using the cableway that day, for better acclimatization.

Day 3 - 1.5-2hr up from the cabins and 1.5hr down.

Day 4 - 3.5-4hr up to Pastukhov Rocks and 2.5-3hr down.

Day 5 - 0 hrs

Day 6 or 7 - Ascent Day. From 10-12hr to 13-14hr.



What is the climbing setup?

The guide will estimate each client’s pace and calculate the estimated duration for the ascent on Day 6 (or 7, the reserve day). Wake-up time on summit day depends on the forecast and the logistics of moving in separate groups (those using snowcats and those brave souls going on foot). He will  also organize helping down those who cannot summit.


What are snowcats?

Snowcats are basically truck-sized taxis designed to walk on snow. Our snowcats are open, just like trucks. They are used to assist Elbrus climbers with either ascent or descent - or both! 


What exactly are we going to carry in our day pack?

You will need to carry spare clothing, the temperature varies from plus 30 to minus 15 degrees centigrade. So down jackets, spare clothing, a couple of litres of water and picnic food soon fill up a sack when added to crampons, climbing harness and cameras.... and sleeping bag.


When do we have to switch from our hiking to our plastic boots? 

 Plastic boots will be needed for all the snow and ice days; otherwise, you will be using your normal boots. 


Is it recommended that we break into our plastic boots?
It is a good idea to try them out on one of the acclimatising treks on day 2 or 3, however it is not essential. What we recommend is that you take your precautions against blisters.  


Will you provide bottled water or do we need to get the purifying pills? 
You will not need purifying pills. You can buy water at the special refuge where we stay on the mountain. The cook will boil water and tea as well.