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What clothes and shoes do you need to climb Elbrus?

Clothing for Elbrus-1

One of the most important aspects of safety when climbing Mount Elbrus is a correctly selected set of high-quality equipment. The main recommendations listed in this article will relate to the climbing equipment for the South or North routes, which require a minimum amount of special climbing gear - the main accent should be done on the special alpine clothing that protects from adverse weather conditions.

Regarding a set of clothes for high-altitude climbing, the following explanations should be given.

  • The first - your feeling of cold at high altitude - is subjective thing which depends on the general condition of your body (lack of acclimatization, fatigue). For example, frostbite on the toes or hands in these conditions is much easier than at similar temperatures in the usual environment on the plain.

  • The second - in case of any emergency (delay on the route, forced slowdown), even with a slight lack of warm clothing, there can be a serious threat even to your life. Based on these factors, maximum attention should be paid to the thorough selection of a set of quality clothes and shoes for climbing Mount Elbrus. The basic requirements for this set are a combination of light weight and high quality – on that depend not only your comfort and convenience during the ascent, but also health and safety along the route. Many travel companies offer to the participants of their climbing programs the rent of clothes and climbing shoes, however, since the requirements for that gear are very high, then you can consider a rental option only in case of absolute necessity.

Clothing for Elbrus-3

The choice of shoes

Modern technologies allow manufacturers of high-quality climbing shoes to achieve excellent results in the ratio of weight / thermal insulation. The choice of shoes for alpine climbing is quite large. For summer alpine ascents at the altitude of 5000-6000, I recommend to consider the middle line of alpine climbing shoes - models of this category weigh 1.2 - 1.8 kg (pair) and provide protection from low temperatures down to -30C. In most cases, this is enough for a summer climbs of Mount Elbrus, Mount Kazbek, Mont Blanc, etc.

Some people use ultra-warm altitude climbing boots designed for climbing at the altitudes of 7000 - 8000 meters for climbing Mount Elbrus. In my opinion, this is a very expensive and impractical option. Of course, such shoes will provide 100% protection against low temperatures, however, under comfortable conditions on the approaches and during acclimatization, this footwear will be useless and inconvenient. The other extreme is the use of trekking boots, even well-insulated ones. This option is suitable for experienced tourists or climbers who understand well how to deal with the low temperatures. Trekking shoes are comfortable throughout the main part of the climbing tour, but problems are possible during the summit push.

When choosing shoes for climbing Elbrus, you should carefully select the model and size - any, the lightest discomfort or squeezing of your foot can lead to the blisters or frostbite. A perfectly selected shoe fully matches the shape of the foot, leaving enough space for using it with a pair of warm socks. At the other hand, with a tight fixation of the lacing it does not leave any space for excessive mobility of the foot.

Choice of clothes

Information on the basic set of clothes is described in detail in my article "Recommendations on the equipment for basic alpine climbing programs." In addition to that information about the basic three-layer set of clothes which perfectly suites any acclimatization program and for approaches to the route, for climbing Mount Elbrus you will need to add an additional insulated layer - a down jacket (900-1100 g ) and down trousers (500-700 g), preferably with the side zippers. To protect your hands from the cold, you should have both light fleece gloves and good dense insulated mitts.

Clothing for Elbrus-4

Special climbing gears

This category includes equipment designed to provide safety and protection when climbing technically difficult routes. This category includes a large number of different devices, the set of which depends on the specifics of one particular route.

Of the special gear for climbing Mount Elbrus by classic routes from the south and north, you will need a minimum set – the trekking poles (Read the article on this subject) and crampons.

For summer ascents of Mount Elbrus, during which you do not have to deal with climbing the open ice, you should choose lightweight crampons for walking on the hard snow and firn. Unlike professional crampons for technical mountaineering, these models are relatively lightweight and can be fixed on any kind of shoes.

Clothing for Elbrus-2

Having experience of more than 100 ascents of Mount Elbrus on the different routes, I can say that on the north and south routes in normal summer conditions, the use of additional climbing gear is unnecessary.

The requirements of various organizers of the Mount Elbrus tours on the use of a full set of climbing gear for summer ascents from the north and from the south are not justified by the technical features of these routes - it is just escalation of complexity in order to increase the cost of the program. Helmets, harnesses, ropes, ice axes are redundant on these routes. And with the lack of special skills of using this gear - that is just a useless excess load.

Bringing the excessive amount of gear leads to the increase in the weight of your backpack and creates additional problems when climbing. You should keep in mind that your mobility on the route is one of the important conditions for your safety climbing.

Clothes and footwear for climbing Mount Elbrus

Text — Alexey Trubachev, founder of the MCS AlexClimb mountaineering and climbing school.

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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.

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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.

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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.