Mountain climbing school

 or 
all events
+54 9341 5326347 (whatsapp)
+44 7727 445099 (whatsapp)
 info@alexclimb.com

FAQ

How to prepare for Elbrus?

Read in Telegram in English
Leer en Telegram en Español

My collection of routes to Elbrus is here

How to prepare for the ascent of Mount Elbrus?

When planning to climb Mount Elbrus, many climbers ask me the question: how to properly build an optimal preparation schedule for this relatively simple climbing program?

Mount Elbrus, South side
Mount Elbrus, South side

First, let's highlight the main features of the Mount Elbrus routes that require attention when preparing for the ascent:

  • The altitude of Mount Elbrus is 5642 meters, which is much higher than the normal horizon of human habitation. The oxygen content at this altitude is only 55% of the usual norm. For the most Mount Elbrus climbers, it is the lack of oxygen that is the key obstacle.
  • The length of the simplest Southern route of Mount Elbrus is 7.8 km (one way) from Gora-Bashi Camp to the West summit, with an altitude gain of almost 1900 meters. This is quite a long distance, the average ascent time is at least 8-9 hours.
  • The significant altitude and location of a lone high mountain increases the risk of unpredictable sudden changes in the weather and climbing conditions - professional development and strict adherence to a tactical climbing plan is required.

What do you need to effectively and safely solve the task at hand - climbing the highest peak in Europe - Elbrus?

Adequate physical fitness

Absence of chronic diseases and medical contraindications to mountaineering.

The presence of moderate mental disorders and inappropriate behavior does not prevent climbing Mount Elbrus
The presence of moderate mental disorders and inappropriate behavior does not prevent climbing Mount Elbrus

Absence of diseases of the cardiovascular system or severe problems with the musculoskeletal system.

If your health does not prevent intense physical activity, then you will not need any special physical training to climb Mount Elbrus.

The only obstacle to climb Mount Elbrus may be the fact that you yourself are of the size of Mount Elbrus. Then, alas, nothing will work out with your climbing plan
The only obstacle to climb Mount Elbrus may be the fact that you yourself are of the size of Mount Elbrus. Then, alas, nothing will work out with your climbing plan

However, the total volume of physical load during the Mount Elbrus ascent is very high - approximately, such a load can be compared with a running distance of 12-15 kilometers at an average pace. If you cope with such a task on the plain, this gives you a good chance that after proper acclimatization and good luck with the weather, you will not have problems reaching the Summit of Mount Elbrus.

Age 75+ does not prevent you from climbing to the Summit of Mount Elbrus
Age 75+ does not prevent you from climbing to the Summit of Mount Elbrus

The training schedule for any high-altitude climbs consists mainly of aerobic exercises - running, skiing, swimming, Nordic walking. During these training sessions, you force your body to intensively use oxygen to maintain continuous muscle tone.

2-3 workouts per week for 4-6 months before the climb will be enough even in the case of a complete lack of initial physical training. And if you follow the basic rules of a healthy lifestyle: proper nutrition, avoiding alcohol and smoking, etc. – your success is practically guaranteed.

If the basic preparation conditions are successfully realized, there is a good chance in climbing Mount Elbrus
If the basic preparation conditions are successfully realized, there is a good chance in climbing Mount Elbrus

The key point in preparing for climbing Mount Elbrus is acclimatization

As a rule, if you do not have sufficient experience of being physically active at an altitude, the body's reaction to low oxygen levels can be sharp and painful. The occurrence of the so-called “acute mountain sickness” is a consequence of violation of the physiological schedule when gaining altitude. This physiological effect occurs when your body does not have enough time to rebuild internal processes in accordance with a new conditions.

In order not to get sad in the mountains, you should not neglect the correct acclimatization program
In order not to get sad in the mountains, you should not neglect the correct acclimatization program

The solution to this issue is to effectively pass through an acclimatization program: - 5-7 days of easy ascents or training with the overnight stays at the altitudes of 3500m - 4000m. Followed by a descent to a comfortable altitude level for complete recovery.

Training and acclimatization climb to the summit of Mount Kurmychi (4050 m) in the Elbrus region
Training and acclimatization climb to the summit of Mount Kurmychi (4050 m) in the Elbrus region

For acclimatization, it is recommended to choose a mountain area with more favorable conditions than Mount Elbrus. Acclimatization on Mount Elbrus is complicated by a combination of factors such as low temperatures, too gentle slopes and great distances, the depressing properties of an enormous mountain.

Acclimatization climb in Dagestan, Mount Bazarduzu, before climbing Mount Elbrus
Acclimatization climb in Dagestan, Mount Bazarduzu, before climbing Mount Elbrus

All this makes your acclimatization on Mount Elbrus more tedious, boring and ineffective. Ideal areas for acclimatization, which we have been using for this purpose for more than 20 years, are the Shkhelda and Adyl-Su gorges, Irik-Chat gorge, Bezengi region. Perfectly fits for acclimatization before climbing Mount Elbrus the climb Mount Bazarduzu in Dagestan or Mount Kazbek in Georgia.

Correct tactics for climbing Mount Elbrus

Your physical fitness is not always the key factor for success when climbing mountains.

Often, more important is tactical training, proper equipment, knowledge of the route, ability to navigate in the difficult conditions, ability to see and understand signs of worsening or improving weather, to know the peculiarities of the functioning of your own body at altitude - altitude experience.

The Summit of Mount Elbrus gets a light veil of clouds - that is a clear sign of coming bad weather
The Summit of Mount Elbrus gets a light veil of clouds - that is a clear sign of coming bad weather

All of these points are collectively called the tactical skills and are the key issue for the safe and successful mountaineering. Regarding climbing Mount Elbrus, I can say that this mountain, for all its technical simplicity, is a rather serious and dangerous tactical object for climbing; most failures and accidents occur precisely because of the tactical mistakes of the climbers.

Climbing Mount Elbrus along the west slope - the most difficult route to Mount Elbrus
Climbing Mount Elbrus along the west slope - the most difficult route to Mount Elbrus

Among these mistakes are underestimating the difficulty or length of the route, insufficient acclimatization, overestimating one’s strength (very dangerous), excessively high rate of the ascent, deficiencies in equipment, and so on.

Unfortunately, many climbers do not understand the extreme seriousness of such mistakes, which often lead to very sad consequences.

A reminder for those who think they are knee-deep in mountains
A reminder for those who think they are knee-deep in mountains

Unfortunately, you can only learn tactical skills in the mountaineering through your own practice. No amount of advice or recommendations will help in that - only regular trips to the mountains, increasing the complexity of the climbing routes, self-guiding simple ascents can give you confident decision-making and tactical skills in the mountains.

Climbing Mount Elbrus
Climbing Mount Elbrus

Regarding Mount Elbrus, the safest option, especially if you have little or no experience in mountaineering, is to rely on the knowledge and experience of those who already well understand the features of this mountain and know the climbing route - professional mountain guides.

High-quality equipment for climbing Elbrus

All the nuances of selecting equipment for climbing Mount Elbrus and other peaks of this category are described in detail in the corresponding article.

Here I want to remind you once again that high-quality equipment is not only your comfort and pleasure from climbing to the summit, but in the most cases that is your safety.

It’s nice to have a good equipment in the mountains. But it's not always easy to carry
It’s nice to have a good equipment in the mountains. But it's not always easy to carry

The main criteria for high-quality equipment for mountaineering are its comfort, durability, and light weight. Modern technologies allow to the manufacturers to produce clothing and mountain equipment that make our climbs fundamentally safer than, for example, 50 years ago - this is a huge advantage that should not be neglected.

Climbing equipment of more than 50 years ago - in these times you had to be a hero to go climbing mountains. Now it's enough to be rich
Climbing equipment of more than 50 years ago - in these times you had to be a hero to go climbing mountains. Now it's enough to be rich

When selecting mountain equipment for climbing Mount Elbrus, special attention should be paid, among other things, to the quality and sizing of shoes - even a small callus on your heel can cause the entire ascent to be disrupted, or frostbitten toes can remain a “souvenir” for life.

The author of the texts and photographs Alex Trubachev
Your professional mountain guide for Mount Elbrus and other mountain climbing routes in Caucasus

MCS EDIT 2024

Other related questions:

Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.
X

Оферта