Mt. Elbrus, Russia

Difficulty Level: Beginner - Intermediate

Each of the 20 expeditions Mike has lead to Mt. Elbrus have stood on top with over 100 people summiting under Mike’s direct guidance. You don’t get better odds than that. Climb Mt. Elbrus with Mike Hamill, 6-time Everest Summiteer, 6-time Seven Summiteer, the non-Sherpa Cho Oyu summit record holder, and author of “Climbing the Seven Summits.”  Over 150 people have summited 8000m peaks under Mike’s direct guidance.

Expedition Highlights:
  • See Russia: Experience the power of walking through Red Square and the Kremlin and all that Moscow, St Petersburg, and the Causcasus mountain range have to offer
  • Tour both Moscow and St. Petersburg
  • Go for a boat ride through the many serpentine canals of St Petersburg after walking the famous grounds of the Church of Spilled Blood
  • The Caucuses: This mountain range rivals the Alps but is less well known and has fewer people Experience Russian culture
  • Eat “Shashlik,” Russian BBQ in a traditional Balkarian-Karbardinian town
  • Watch the sunrise over Georgia and Peak “7” from high on the slopes of Elbrus
  • Take a photo in front of the famous St Basil’s cathedral
  • Unwind and enjoy a traditional Russian “banya” (sauna) following your climb

Explore Russia with Climbing the Seven Summits! There is no better excuse to see Russia, both St. Petersburg and Moscow, and the remote Caucasus mountain range then climbing Mt. Elbrus. Climbing Mt. Elbrus and touring St Petersburg and Moscow is truly a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. Many will remember a time when Russia was off limits to Americans but it has now opened it’s doors and welcomes us to explore it’s cultural exoticism and mystique.

Mount Elbrus in Russia is one of the Seven summits being the highest mountain in Europe, rising 18,510 feet (5642 m) above sea level. The crown jewel of the Caucasus Mountains it is an extinct volcano that last erupted in 50 AD. Today its crater is glaciated and filled with snow and ice. The Caucasus range stretches 700 miles (1125 km) in length and is sand- wiched between the Caspian and Black Seas. To the north lies forest and steppe; to the south, a drier, desert like environment. The range includes the fourteen highest mountains in Europe with Mount Elbrus tucked deep in the southwestern corner of Russia, close to its border with Georgia. It has two prominent summits: the east (18,442 ft, 5621 m) and the west (18,481 ft, 5642 m), with the main climbing route ascending to the col between the two.

As one of the easier Seven Summits, Elbrus is an excellent climb representing a great opportunity to become familiar with high altitude climbing, cramponing, self arresting and fixed line climbing, and prepare for higher, more technical peaks. We look forward to leading you on one of the world’s most iconic mountains. As the premier high altitude guide service, CTSS is committed to your safety and success.

 

Welcome to “Climbing the Seven Summits”  Mt. Elbrus Expedition!

In choosing us you are hiring the finest guides and logistical support in the industry. Benefiting from well over 20 expeditions to Russia and countless expeditions around the world drawing on decades of first hand guiding experience, we have worked hard to refine our logistics in order to offer you the highest chance of success at an exceptional value.

I am proud to say that on each of my more than 20 expeditions to Mt. Elbrus my teams have stood on the summit with an overwhelming majority of climbers reaching the top. If you want to stack the odds in your favor for success then look no further.

This website covers the basics of our Mt. Elbrus expedition but I invite you to communi-cate with me directly with any further questions.

Your goal is the summit while ours is to provide you with an exceptional Mt. Elbrus experience. I look forward to helping you achieve your dream.

Sincerely,
Mike Hamill
Owner and Lead Guide, Climbing the Seven Summits

Expedition Options (Schedule and Prices)

Classic Mt. Elbrus Guided Climb
June 30 – July 13, 2018; $4,595

Mt Elbrus is an arduous and yet approachable climb that will put you to the test. Our classic Mt. Elbrus climb makes the ascent and descent on foot. On summit day we will climb nearly 5,000 (1,500m) vertical feet to gain the summit. We begin our climb by acclimatizing in the valley below the peak for a few days before moving up to our moun- tain hut. Here we spend a few days training before making our bid. Solid cramponing skill, harness use, self arrest technique, and fixed line climbing knowledge is helpful but not mandatory as we will refresh these skills with a workshop on the mountain.

Depending on snow conditions, climbers may choose to take a snow-cat to it’s high point on summit morning which saves several hours and 2,000 vertical feet of climbing.

This option includes:

  • American and local guides
  • Full expedition logistics
  • Mountain food and team gear
  • Hotels in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and the Elbrus region
  • In country transportation (minus flights)
  • All city meals while on the program
  • Local registration, climbing permits, and tram fees
  • Support for a summit attempt on Mount Elbrus
  • Oversight, Advice & Full Access to Expedition Leader Mike Hamill

Mt. Elbrus Climb and Ski Descent
June 30 – July 13, 2018; $4,695

This expedition has been designed for strong climbers who have significant backcountry ski experience and are comfortable skiing on steep terrain (such as black diamonds). Mt. Elbrus is an excellent back country ski descent and skiing off the summit of one of the “Seven Summits” is truly a once in a lifetime experience. It is a long descent of 5,000 vertical feet or more with some of the best ski terrain in Europe. Skiing down Elbrus can also save several hours on the descent.

This option includes:

  • American and local guides with ski experience
  • Full expedition logistics
  • Mountain food and team gear
  • Hotels in St Petersburg, Moscow, and the Elbrus region
  • In country transportation (minus flights)
  • All city meals while on the program
  • Local registration, climbing permits, and tram fees
  • Support for a summit attempt on Mount Elbrus
  • Oversight, Advice & Full Access to Expedition Leader Mike Hamill
  • Tour guide, tour transport, and entrance fees to tourist sights

Mt. Elbrus Private Climb
1:1 Client to Guide Ratio; Contact us for dates; $13,950

Want to stack the odds of summiting in your favor and have the personalized attention of a 1;1 western guide? Having your own private guide climbing with you can be an indispensable advantage! A private guide allows you to dictate the schedule, amend it depending on how you’re feeling, and customize a program. A private guide can coach you throughout the expedition, give you valuable feedback, be available if there are any medical issues, and make your climbing experience more enjoyable overall. Although summits are obviously never guaranteed, this is a great way to improve the odds.

This option includes:

  • Experienced guide at a 1:1 ratio
  • Full expedition logistics
  • Mountain food and team gear
  • Hotels in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and the Elbrus region
  • In country transportation (minus flights)
  • All city meals while on the program
  • Local registration, climbing permits, and tram fees
  • Support for a summit attempt on Mount Elbrus

Mt. Elbrus Speed Ascent Program with Private Guide
July 19 – 26, 2018; $15,950

CTSS prides itself on being on the cutting edge of new approaches to climbing mountains that improve safety, success, and efficiency. Mike Hamill has worked with clients for years using portable altitude chambers to pre-accustom their bodies to the rarefied air found at altitude, and with great success. Through the Speed Ascents Program, we work with you to use specially designed altitude tents in the comfort of your own bed. This allows time constrained climbers to spend more time focusing on work, productivity, and family rather than tediously acclimatizing on the mountain.

If you think this option may be right for you please contact us directly and we will arrange portable hypobaric chamber for you and work with you on a personal plan to allow our “Speed Ascent Program” to maximize results for you!

This option includes:

  • Experienced guide at a 1:1 ratio
  • Full expedition logistics
  • Mountain food and team gear AND portable hypobaric chamber Hotels in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and the Elbrus region
  • In country transportation (minus flights)
  • All city meals while on the program
  • Local registration, climbing permits, and tram fees
  • Support for a summit attempt on Mount Elbrus
  • Oversight, Advice & Full Access to Expedition Leader Mike Hamill
  • Tour guide, tour transport, and entrance fees to tourist sights

All prices are in US Dollars.

CTSS requires clients to buy trip insurance for all expeditions. Please see our page on trip insurance and cancellation policy for more information.

All payments once submitted are non-refundable and non-transferable. If balances are not received by specified dates, the client forfeits their place on the program and any prior fees paid.

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Climbing Mt. Elbrus requires solid fitness, an ability to perform well at altitude, the mindset to be away from home for several weeks, and a desire for rugged adventure travel. The Caucasus region of Russia is still a remote and rugged place off the beaten path an is true adventure travel. When away from the major cities don’t expect lattes and blazing fast internet. We will be traveling on glaciated terrain with crampons, harnesses and ice axes and clipping in to fixed ropes. Not to worry if you haven’t done these skills before as we will lead you through a complete snow and climbing school as one of our acclimatization days prior to the summit bid.

We have chosen the Southern climbing route to give you the best chance of summiting Mt. Elbrus. This is known as the “trade route” on the mountain and rightfully so. It offers the least technical climbing and a minimum of crevasse hazards en route to the top.

All of our expeditions incorporate a slow acclimatization schedule giving you the best chance of summiting without experiencing altitude illness, and are organized by world renowned guide and expeditions leader, Mike Hamill. More than 150 climbers have stood atop Mt. Elbrus under Mike’s direct guidance.

Every expedition originates in St. Petersburg where we explore this colorful city before flying to Mineralnye Vody in the Elbrus region.

Once in the Elbrus region we will spend several days acclimatizing based out of our mountain Chalet while enjoying the local cuisine. We then move up to our mountain hut and make a summit bid after a few days of acclimatization. If we summit on time we will use our contingency days to relax back down in the valley, exploring, horse riding, and enjoying Russian Banya before flying to Moscow.

Here in the largest city in Russia, we will tour Red Square, the Kremlin, see St Basil’s Cathedral and visit various other sights of historic importance. We then transfer to the airport to start our journey home. You are welcome to extend your trip should you wish.

Climbing Mt. Elbrus requires solid fitness, an ability to perform well at altitude, the mindset to be away from home for several weeks, and a desire for rugged adventure travel. The Caucasus region of Russia is still a remote and rugged place off the beaten path an is true adventure travel. When away from the major cities don’t expect lattes and blazing fast internet. We will be traveling on glaciated terrain with crampons, harnesses and ice axes and clipping in to fixed ropes. Not to worry if you haven’t done these skills before as we will lead you through a complete snow and climbing school as one of our acclimatization days prior to the summit bid.

Mt. Elbrus Sample Itinerary:

  1. Depart from home
  2. Arrive St Petersburg
  3. Tour St Petersburg
  4. Fly to Min Vody, transfer to Elbrus Region
  5. Acclimatization trek
  6. Training day
  7. Move to mountain hut
  8. Acclimatization hike to Pastokov Rocks
  9. 1st potential summit day
  10. Descend to valley or contingency day
  11. Free day in the valley or contingency day
  12. Fly to Moscow and city tour
  13. Morning city tour and depart for home
  14. Arrive home

This detailed gear list is provided for your reference. Please follow these guidelines carefully as if you arrive in Russia missing gear you will be required to track them down prior to the climb at your own expense which can be difficult and costly. Please make sure you are fully prepared so that your trip and that of your teammates goes smoothly. If you have any questions about the gear, please give us a call, and we can discuss: we’re here to help!

  • Water treatment (Iodine tabs, Chlorine tabs, or water filtration system)
  • Ear plugs (for sleeping in the hut)
  • Camera or phone camera
  • 1 Ski/winter hat
  • 1 Ball cap for sun protection
  • 1 Balaclava/face mask (must cover your whole face (all exposed skin)
  • 2 Buffs
  • 1 Pair liner gloves
  • 1 Pair heavy ski gloves
  • 1 Pair heavy mitts
  • 1 Pair dark goggles
  • 1 Sleeping bag, rated to 0F
  • 1 Thermarest
  • Hiking shoes or light hiking boots
  • 1 Pair of medium weight long john pants
  • 1 Pairs of light trekking pants
  • 1 Pair of trekking shorts
  • 1 Pair medium weight climbing pants
  • 1 Pair goretex water proof pants, must have a full side zip
  • 1 Goretex waterproof jacket,
  • 1 Pair insulated pants, must have a full side zip
  • Town clothes for restaurants
  • 2 Pairs trekking socks and 3 pairs of climbing socks
  • 3 Pair climbing underwear
  • 1 Pair steel crampons
  • Double insulated climbing boots
  • Heavy gaiters that fit boots
  • 2 Long john tops (1 light, 1 medium) Synthetic Sun hoodie or trekking shirt, long sleeve
  • Mid weight upper body insulation layer like a heavy fleece
  • Mid-weight synthetic jacket with a front zip and hood
  • Mid to heavy weight down parka with hood
  • Personal toiletries
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Book/kindle
  • Baby wipes, for staying clean on the mountain
  • Small med kit
  • Toilet paper (2 rolls)
  • Pee bottle (1 liter bottle with wide mouth) pee funnel for women
  • 3 trash bags (for waterproofing duffels and backpack
  • 2 X 1 liter Nalgene water bottles with full insulated covers
  • Large internal frame pack (~80 liters)
  • Day pack (optional, also doubles as a carry on, 45L)
  • 2 Large duffels, water proof PVC rugged construction
  • Travel wallet with passport and cash and pen
  • Light climbing harness
  • Helmet
  • 1 Locking carabiners and 2 non-locking carabiners
  • 1 Light headlamp with extra batteries
  • 2 Pairs glacier glasses (one spare)
  • Collapsible ski poles
  • 1 Long alpine length ice axe
  • 3 Stuff sacks and 2 compression sacks for packing gear
  • Print out of team emails to bring with you
  • Hand sanitizer (small container)
  • 5 lbs personal snack food and drink mix
  • Cup, bowl, spoon
  1. Select the program for which you would like to apply.
  2. Fill out the CTSS online application form completely, truthfully and to the best of your ability or ask us to email you the application package. Pay initial deposit of 25% of the program fees into our trust account to reserve your place. Payment can be made by credit card, PayPal or bank wire transfer. Your spot will not be secured until monies have been received, and we have reviewed your application and accepted you to the program.
  3. Upon acceptance of your application*, we will send you follow up forms including a waiver form, physicians medical form, travel sheet, and passport information form to make sure we have all of your details. We will also begin sending you the program emails to get you up to speed on all the details for your trip.
  4. Submit your remaining 75% balance payment and paperwork prior to 120 days before the program start date.

*Note: This application requires the acceptance of CTSS personnel before the applicant will be enrolled on the program. CTSS reserves the right to deny an applicant enrollment in its programs. Further, if the applicant is under the age of 18, the application must be signed by their legal parent or guardian and they must be accompanied by a legal parent of guardian on the program. If you are not accepted for the program your deposit will be refunded.
 (Please Note: Full Payment Terms & Conditions, Cancellation & Refund Policies can be found on the Waiver Release Form.)

Our expeditions are fully inclusive except for items/services of a personal nature. Please take note that the following is not included:

  • International flights to/from Russia and domestic flights to/from Mineralnye Vody
  • Airport arrival or departure taxes
  • Associated travel expenses including: Visa, Passport, Reciprocity Fees, VaccinationCharges, Excess Baggage, transit hotels
  • Optional excursions not included in the itinerary or additional days before or afterthe scheduled program
  • Personal climbing equipment, clothing, toiletries etc
  • Personal sundries including but not limited to; personal snacks, specialized highaltitude climbing food, alcoholic beverages, laundry services, medical expenses,gratuities, internet, email or phone charges, bottled water, specialty coffees
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Guide tips (customary)
  • Satellite telephone air charges and 3rd party wifi
  • Costs incurred as a result of events beyond the control of CTSS above and beyond the normal expedition costs
  • Required trip insurance policy (for trip cancellation, interruption, rescue & evacuation, medical treatment, repatriation, etc.)

Mike Hamill, a veteran of 20 Elbrus climbs, personally organizes and leads each Mt. Elbrus expedition. Well over 150 climbers have stood on top of Mt. Elbrus under his direct guidance.

Mike Hamill, lead guide and owner of CTSS, is universally regarded as one of the most experienced and respected high altitude mountaineers in the world. He has guided thousands of climbers on the Seven Summits and well over 150 climbers have stood atop 8000m peaks, including Everest, under his direct guidance.

A guide for over 20 years, he boasts a 91% expedition success rate and an 83% climber summit success rate for all of his expeditions world-wide.

Who you choose as the leader of your expedition is a big deal. Sound leadership is the difference between a great expedition and a miserable, potentially dangerous one and you only want the best in your corner. Mike has an unprecedented safety record, has 6 Everest summits and currently holds the record for most non-Sherpa summits of Cho Oyu. He’s also the author of the guide book “Climbing the Seven Summits,” making him among the most experienced Western guides in the world.

An adventurer by nature, he has skied to the South Pole, cycled unsupported across the United States and completed the famed Seven Summits 6 times. He has competed as a nordic skier, ultra marathoner and cyclist.

His love for the mountains and adventure continues to compel him to travel the globe and connect with the local mountain communities, particularly the Sherpa of the Khumbu region. This bond was his impetus in creating the “Tiger of the Snows Fund” a not-for-profit that provides grants to further education of mountain tourism workers and their families & a portion of each CTSS expedition goes to support the fund.

Mike is a familiar and well respected face in the mountaineering community. He is passionate about imparting his knowledge, skills and experience to inspire others to harness their full potential in the mountains

Climbing the Seven Summits’ primary aim is to help you attain your personal climbing and trekking goals while experiencing the best of our planet, its unique cultures and environments.

We strive to offer the highest quality mountaineering expeditions and treks at a great value while focusing on our primary goals: safety, success, and enjoyment.

We achieve this by bringing our extensive experience, top of the line logistics  individualized service, and world-class guides to each adventure we undertake.

To give our clients the highest possible chance at success we are detailed in our approach, ensuring we’ve dotted our ‘i’s and crossed our ‘t’s. We provide personalized service, employ conservative acclimatization schedules, use top of the line mountaineering, camping and communications gear, hire only the best mountain leaders and we don’t skimp on costs.

Our expeditions strive to set the highest standards and climb in “good style”. By this we mean prioritising the wellbeing and safety of our teams, leaving no trace on the environments we operate in, respecting culture, contributing to local economies by employing regional partners and paying them higher than the industry standard and working in a self-sufficient and self-reliant way. We promote a responsible approach to adventure travel by connecting people to the natural world and giving back to local communities by donating a percentage of every expedition to ‘Tiger of the Snows Fund”

We take immense pride in our expeditions and this shows in the positive feedback we receive from our teams who form lasting friendships forged in the mountains as they work together and overcome tough challenges.

Please visit our Client Testimonials page for quotes reflecting CTSS leadership and experience. If you would like to talk to previous customers as references, please contact us, and we can put you in touch with many satisfied climbers. Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email, and we will be happy to discuss the expedition with you. Joining a climbing or trekking expedition is a big deal, and it’s important to feel comfortable with the expedition leadership. The majority of our clients are return customers because of their overwhelmingly positive experiences.