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Is it possible to climb alone the highest mountain of the Caucasus and Europe - Elbrus?

One on Elbrus-1

If you ask such a question, my answer will be NO. Those who can afford to climb alone in the mountains from their own experience - without question, understand clearly the complexity and danger of such undertakings. As well as their personal responsibility to family, friends and completely strangers who, in the case of an accident, will risk their lives to provide rescue. Understanding all these aspects, as well as possessing the special technical and tactical climbing skills, sufficient physical form – only in that case you can afford such a luxury - to get a solo climbing challenge. Even among mountain professionals, there is no unequivocal attitude to solo climbing in the mountains. But one thing can be said with complete certainty - if you are a beginner, if you are led to the mountains by romance or the desire to prove yourself as a hero - find a good team, gain experience. As you grow more experienced, the desire to climb mountains alone most likely will go away.

In general, is it ok to go to the mountains alone? It is almost impossible to answer this question definitely. From the point of view of safety - solo climbing in mountaineering is completely unacceptable. From its very birth, alpine climbing involved working in a team - this is the only way to resist the pressure of the mountain elements and achieve truly high summits. However, the time of great victories and heroes is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Now, for the most climbers, mountaineering is a vacation, a chance of changing the habitual and boring environment to something new and fresh. In this format, many take mountaineering just as a change of scenery. And it is not surprising that often people are getting the ideas of going to the mountains alone.

Of course, the romantic desire to enjoy the mountains is familiar to most of us, to be one on one with the snow-white giants... To listen to the music of the wind and immerse yourself in the cosmic harmony of the sky high peaks. Get away from the everyday routine, stay in perfect solitude in the most beautiful corner of the earth, inaccessible to the hustle and bustle of the Internet. With a cup of hot coffee, enjoy the best performance in the world - the sunrise over the endless mountain ranges. Sounds tempting? Yes. But also it could be like this: a tent destroyed by the wind, icy rain and a wet sleeping bag. Attempts to call for the help from a wet and discharged phone — all the charge went into photographing flowers and dawns. Or inglorious death in a deep ice crevasse, in which it is almost impossible to find a missing man. Very often people do not understand the price they can pay for a rash and totally stupid act. Ask any mountain rescuer what he thinks about the "soloists", especially the "soloists-dreamers." In response, you will hear a lot of things which are completely not romantic.

In order not to be unfounded, below I give the statistics of mortality in the mountains for the period from 2010 to 2018. Information prepared on the basis of statistics of the Russian Mountaineering Federation.

Death statistics on Elbrus

In the author’s background there is the experience of solo climbs not only of Mount Elbrus, Mount Kazbek, Belukha Peak... But also much more difficult peaks and faces, technical solo ascents of the vertical rock of a height more than 700 meters, solo climbs of Matterhorn, Khan Tengri, experience of solo climbing the frozen waterfalls. Without pride in such “accomplishments,” I have the right to say that solo climbing in the mountains is not romance or recklessness. This is an extremely difficult technical task, which can be dealt only by having vast experience in climbing and perfect physical shape.

If you are new to mountaineering but you do not want to learn from the mistakes of others – if with no arguments, you have firmly decided to go to Mount Elbrus alone - this is a bad idea and an irresponsible act.

For such people, I will answer the question asked in the topic of the article. What is written below applies only to the Mount Elbrus South Route with high traffic, good cellular coverage and infrastructure. Trying to climb Mount Elbrus alone on any other route is suicide and a big dirty trick to everyone around.

Follow the basic guidelines:

  1. Check out my article on solo climbing tactics;
  2. Be sure to register with the local rescue service, tell them your plans, schedule, dates of entry and exit from the route;
  3. Try to follow any organized group;
  4. Keep in touch with one of your friends, report your condition, location;
  5. If there is any sign of discomfort, return immediately. When climbing solo, such a decision should be done much earlier than if you climb in a group.

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

One on Elbrus-2

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.