Please note you will be emailed out a set of Elbrus Team Reference Notes upon registration. This extensive booklet includes detailed information to assist in the planning of your trip; from travel and medical advice to equipment lists and photography tips. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline but please feel free to call or e-mail, if you have any further questions as our team is here to help!
One of your trips goes to St. Petersburg; the others do not, why?
We wanted to offer a variety of options for those that want to climb Elbrus, but don’t have the time to visit both of Russia’s majestic cities. The longer trip allows for one full day of sightseeing in St. Petersburg (often called the Venice of Russia) prior to the expedition and one day in Moscow at the end.
The second and third trips are direct to/from Moscow and allow for no city tours. This is for the climber who just wants to climb the mountain and who plans on coming back to “see the sights” another time.
I hear that Moscow is the most expensive city in the world! Is this true?
It is one of the most expensive cities in the world. A simple cappuccino can sometimes cost USD$7! We work hard to try to find the most comfortable and affordable restaurants and hotels. It is the classic case of tourists always paying more, but if you are diligent and follow your guides advice, usually you can avoid the worst of it.
What sort of hotels do we stay at in the city?
Excellent ones! Both the hotels in St Petersburg and Moscow will either be the Holiday Inn, rated 4 star or a comparable centrally located property. We always utilise modern hotels with world class facilities including various restaurants, heated pools and a convenient central location making it is easy to get out to explore the city.
Where do I meet and will I be picked up?
For trip one, please fly into St Petersburg's Pulkovo International Airport (LED) and for trips two and three, either into Moscow's Sheremetyevo (SVO) or Domodedovo (DME) International Airport's. As the airports are located outside the city centre, we will assist in arranging airport transfers. Your guide will usually meet you on your arrival at the hotel.
A month or so before the trip, you will receive a final details letter outlining the hotel and agent contact details, the team member list, airport transfer information as well as other last minute tips.
What if I arrive early or depart late?
Due to the excessive amount of bureaucracy in Russia (and the pedantic nature of their officials), the planning of this expedition is very time consuming as every detail must be confirmed well in advance to meet our obligations with visa and travel documentation. Changes from the plan can become very expensive and flexibility is not an option like it is in the west. For this reason, we request that expedition members ensure their travel arrangements in and out of the country are as close to our itinerary as possible. You cannot arrive earlier into Russia than the date stamped on your Russian visa. If you do have plans for extra days in Russia on either side of the itinerary, please do let your client liaison know so that they can assist with this as per the visa requirements.
I hear getting to the mountain involves a long travel day, is this true?
If you have ever seen the Steve Martin movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” that is sort of what it feels like. The valley where the mountain is located is in a remote part of the country. So typically we spend a day travelling to get there. This will involve a domestic flight, which is always exciting in Russia, followed by a bus ride. While it sounds simple, travel inside of Russia can be somewhat slow, so expect to plug into your music, move some duffel bags around between the flight and bus, and enjoy the countryside!
Do we really ride snowcats and skidoos on the mountain? Isn’t this cheating?
We do ride snowcats or skidoos during our climb, but it is far from cheating! Any ground on which we use “mechanical assistance” to climb, we already will have walked to that height on foot. For example on summit morning, we will ride the snowcat to Pastukhov Rocks; while 1 or 2 days prior, we will have walked there during our final acclimatisation climb.
Can I bring my skis?
While it is possible to ski from the summit, we only offer a ski trip on Elbrus as a private trip. Contact our office for details.
What is the accommodation like?
We stay in the newly renovated Islam Hut, which provides basic bunk style hut accommodation. It is reached by ski lift. Our expedition cook caters for us here.
Will I be sharing a room with other climbers? Is there a single room option on this trip?
Yes, the bunk rooms in Islam Hut on the mountain are shared facilities. In the hotels, typically you will share with one other team member as, the expedition cost is based on a twin-share basis. There is a single room option available for both of the city hotels as well as the valley hotel, so please contact out office for the single supplement prices.
What are the skills/prior experience required for this climb?
Elbrus is a glacier climb, so it would be good if you came to this trip having some snow experience under your belt. This would include having worn crampons and used an ice axe before. That said, we do provide a refresher on these skills when first arriving on the mountain and we are also happy to provide some additional training, prior to the expedition. Please talk to our team about this.
What is the conditioning level needed for this climb?
As the altitude is over 18,000ft / 5,000m, it is good to be in excellent cardiovascular shape, and be able to carry a moderate weight pack (6-10kg / 15-20lbs).
How long is a typical day on the mountain?
Days where we are acclimatising can be between 5-7 hours long. Summit day can be up to 15 hours, with the average summit day being 7-8 hours. The benefit of a long summit day is that we start and finish at the huts, rather than having to camp higher to shorten the summit day.
How heavy will my pack be?
Due to the use of the chairlifts up to the hut, you will never have to carry a pack heavier than 15-20lbs/ 6-10kg. You will however, have to move your heavier backpack onto and off of cable cars and chairlifts up to the hut.
How many climbers will be on this expedition?
Typically 6 to 12 members will be on the trip with you.
Can I contact other climbers or guides for this expedition?
Sure! If you contact us before the trip, we will send out your request to other members and then it is up to them to contact you. We will never send you other members contact information due to our privacy policies. We do find that most team members are very keen to be in touch with each other prior to the expedition start date.
What kind of food do you have on the mountain?
Food is provided by our expedition cook at the hut and we also provide plenty of snacks, fruit and of course, fresh coffee! If you have any specific dietary requirements, please do let our office know in advance so that we can arrange suitable alternatives.
What type of communication is available on the climb?
Believe it or not, your mobile phone from home will work all the way to the hut and there is also 3G available. Please check to make sure you understand the roaming rates as it can be quite expensive to call from Russia. Your guide will also carry a satellite phone as a backup and for emergencies.
How much should I budget for this expedition? How much cash should I plan to bring?
Seeing as Russia is an expensive country, it is difficult to plan and budget how much cash to bring. Fortunately, there are plenty of cash machines all over the big cities and several ATMs in the Terskol and Cheget area. You should budget for EUR40-80 per meal, whilst in St Petersburg and Moscow. Whilst in the Terskol Valley, we recommend approximately EUR400 to cover tips for the local staff, potential snowcat rides and other incidentals, with perhaps a little more for gifts and additional tips.
How much should I tip my guide staff?
We recommend approximately RB100-500 (EUR1.70 - EUR8.50) per person for the city tour guides and bus driver, and RB500-750 (EUR8.50 - EUR12.50 ) for the cook staff, and RB2000 (EUR34) per person for the local mountain guide. If you wish to acknowledge a particular staff member who has helped you a lot, then this can be done as a separate tip.
Whilst we all want to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the Russian staff, it is also worth recognising the efforts of your western guide who will be very thankful of your appreciation. Feel free to discuss this topic with your guide.
Are there any entry or visa requirements?
Yes, one of the biggest issues with travel in Russia is the visa! Almost all foreign travellers to Russia require a visa. Once your trip has been paid for and confirmed, and we have your flight arrival/departure details, we will provide the invitation letter and support documentation necessary to procure your visa to visit Russia. We usually like to do this approximately 6 weeks prior to the trip start date and you must submit your visa application as soon as we have sent you the appropriate invitation and support documents. The visa process normally takes up to 2 weeks, although you can opt for a speedier service by paying a higher fee. You will have to send your passport into your nearest Russian embassy along with the necessary paperwork. Your travel agent or a visa processing service should be able to assist you with this process.
Do you have a recommended list of clothing we should bring?
Yes, you will be sent a personal clothing and equipment list once our office has received your trip registration form and deposit. We do also have a dedicated equipment coordinator that is happy to provide advice and answers to any questions you may have.
Do I really need all the equipment on the equipment list?
Yes, these lists have been carefully prepared and you must bring everything on the list. Please do not hesitate to contact our equipment coordinator, if you have any questions about purchasing gear. We can also arrange the rental of certain items, so if interested please check with our office.
How warm do we need our sleeping bags to be?
You will require a sleeping bag warm enough for you in conditions that can be between -5oC and -10oC. We cannot recommend enough as to buying a sleeping bag big enough to allow you to wear some clothes in, if it is especially cold.
What insurance do we need to get?
On all of our international expeditions, there is a requirement for each expedition member to have insurance to cover any personal or medical mishaps that may occur before or during the expedition. This should cover you for any costs incurred in the event of any illness, medical emergency or evacuation that occurs while on expedition as well as trip cancellation, baggage loss, damage or theft, or any other such mishap that may occur.
Do I need evacuation insurance?
Yes, it is very important. Many of our expeditions are in remote places with no roads and third world medical services. In the unlikely event you get sick, you want to get to good medical care ASAP.
Who do you recommend for insurance?
Coverage varies based on your nationality and the trip that you are taking with us. When you have booked on for a trip with us, we will send you comprehensive information on various insurance options which will serve as a good starting point for obtaining the best coverage available for yourself.
What is Trip Cancellation Insurance?
Trip cancellation insurance is an option that may allow you to cancel your trip without losing the total cost of the trip. Adventure Consultants highly recommends cancellation insurance for all of our trips. If circumstances cause us to cancel a trip (minimum numbers are not reached or travel to a country becomes too dangerous), then we refund your fees paid but trip cancellation insurance covers your airfare and any other costs you may have incurred.
What is your cancellation policy? Refund policy?
Click here for our cancellation and refund policies.
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