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FAQ

At what time of the year is it better to climb Elbrus?

What time of year should I go up to Elbrus?

The summits of Elbrus are climbable at any time of the year, but different seasons have their own characteristics and specialties – in the article below I want to tell you about this in details.

Officially, summer is considered the season to be the best season for climbing Mount Elbrus. Accordingly, this is the most popular season with the most climbing traffic.

August if the month with the most climbing activity. The popularity of August for climbing Elbrus is more likely due to the generally accepted standards for vacationing, rather than for some natural factors. For example, I can say that weather in August is not much better than in June, but because of the number of people, the impression of climbing can be spoiled. In addition, August is the peak of the summer heat, when the snow cover on Elbrus almost disappears and from under snow melts out quite many ugly things, especially on the south slope - construction and touristic waste, remains of engineering constructions, abandoned infrastructure. In short, if you want more aesthetics from your climbing Mount Elbrus - it is better to choose a season with more snow and less crowds - June or July.

Based on the practice of the recent years, September can be called the most favorable season for climbing Mount Elbrus. Traffic on the routes decreases significantly, air temperature drops slightly down compared to August - the weather becomes more stable, the precipitation amount decreases. If we add to this the autumn colors of the Baksan Gorge, crystal clear air and the lack of cloudiness, we will get the ideal and perfect time for climbing.

Graph of Mount Elbrus temperatures in relation with the altitude

October, especially its first half, is slightly colder than in September, but the weather is still stable and good for climbing.

November. The beginning of the winter season. The conditions for winter climbing of Mount Elbrus dictate some very serious requirements for the level of technical and physical training of the climbers. Officially, the winter months are considered the be the most unpopular and dangerous season for the ascents of Mount Elbrus. The beginning of the winter season is characterized by a sharp deterioration in the weather conditions, prolonged periods of snowfalls and high winds. The temperature drops down significantly, strength of the wind increases. These factors make climbing Mount Elbrus in November a very difficult and risky undertaking.

December. Winter comes into its rights, and the condition of the Mount Elbrus routes takes all the characteristic winter features - extremely low (down to -50С on summit) air temperatures, abundance of ice fields where the climbing protection is required. The density of Mount Elbrus winter ice is a famous thing among climbers – it is so hard that even the sharpest points of the crampons leave only a slight scratch on the smooth surface polished by the wind. This state of ice is very characteristic of winter Elbrus; it is called " the bottle ice". It is very easy to slide down on such a surface, but it is almost impossible to self-arrest on the gently inclined slope in case of fall. Daylight hours in December are the shortest - this unfavorable factor also contributes to the tactics of winter climbing of Mount Elbrus.

January-February. According to the harsh conditions and level of the risk, these months have all the characteristics of the winter season on Elbrus. Generally, there are very few climbs accomplished during this period, the complexity and danger of the routes are seriously increased. Climbing conditions for the winter Mount Elbrus can be compared with the conditions of the 8000 m mountains, and the tactical difficulties (length of the route, difficulty in belay organizing) make Mount Elbrus more serious than many popular “eight-thousanders”.

March, April. In the first months of the spring, the route conditions of Mount Elbrus are resembling the general winter state - open areas of hard ice, extremely low air temperatures. However, the duration of the daylight increases, the temperature becomes much warmer. At this time, the probability of serious snowfalls and critically strong winds is still high, sudden changes in the weather are the cause of many failures and accidents when trying to climb Mount Elbrus in the first months of the spring. The attempt of summiting in such conditions requires from the alpinist having serious experience and some good luck, while that climbing attempt remains an extremely risky event.

May. The only month of the spring climbing season on Mount Elbrus. During this month the state of the Mount Elbrus routes changes to the favorable direction - it becomes much warmer, the most dangerous thing of the winter - open ice sections are reduced and covered with snow. Daylight hours are high and increasing. However, due to the large amount of snow and, nevertheless, rather harsh temperature conditions, May is considered to be a difficult month for climbing Mount Elbrus, although this period is definitely much less dangerous comparing to March or April. In May, the number of successful ascents increases; at the end of May, the condition of Elbrus routes is approaching their normal summer state.

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

What time of year should I go up to Elbrus?-2

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