Mount Elbrus – Southern approach

Rated 4.69 out of 5 based on 35 customer ratings
(35 customer reviews)

Altitude 5642m, Grade 2B

Russia has just dropped its Quarentine requirements on entry, Book now for our late September departures

To climb Mount Elbrus from the South is an exhilarating expedition via sweeping snow slopes to the col between Mt Elbrus’ twin summits before continuing easily to the true summit. A great mountain to climb after Kilimanjaro and as a lead up to Aconcagua.

Russia has just dropped its Quarantine requirements on entry, Book now for our late September departures

Our Mount Elbrus expedition via the south approach has achieved outstanding success rates for people of all levels over the past decade. On this expedition we gradually gain height and increase our chance of success by taking time to acclimatise in the Syltran-Su valley on Mount Mukal and/or Syltrankelbashi, which offer views across the beautiful valleys to Elbrus. Once acclimatised, we use the cable car to regain our high point at just over 4000m from where we follow sweeping snow slopes to the col between Elbrus’ twin summits before continuing easily to the true summit of Europe’s highest mountain in an ascent of about 1000m.

In 2018-20 Adventure Peaks has continued to maintain it’s high level of success on Elbrus averaging 95% success rate across 30 South side trips this year.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017, 99% of our clients reached the summit via the South ridge, totalling 180 out of 185 clients.  This success is in sharp contrast to what is normally achieved on the Northern approach due to the grueling summit day which totals 1900m! 2016 was the exception on the North side which saw far better success than the norm of 50% due to the incredibly good weather that season.

Climbing Mount Elbrus – summit day – For our summit day we rise in the early hours and prepare for a 3.00am departure for the highest point of Europe. It is often possible to obtain a lift by Snowcat (or walk) to around 4750m. The route from here is a steady climb up to the Sedlowina Saddle, the col between the two peaks of Elbrus. From here the final 300 metres of ascent to the West summit is on steeper snow slopes. The ascent is approximately 8-10 hours round trip. Time permitting we will return to our hotel base in the valley to celebrate or spend a further night in the barrels.

Mount Elbrus Northern approach – This expedition takes the more remote approach away from the famous cable car of the South. Whilst the route may be described as more beautiful, the final summit day is far longer and more exhausting being around 1,900m to the main west summit and should, therefore, only be attempted by those with a very high level of fitness!! -2016 provided exceptional good weather and success was far greater (with 95% of our Northern route clients reaching the summit) but this is not normal.

View our Mount Elbrus Northern Approach Expedition

Once you’ve summited why not get a limited special edition Adventure Peaks Elbrus T-Shirts.

Why climb with Adventure Peaks

  • 97% client success in 2019-20
  • 96% client success in 2018-19
  • 99% client success in 2017 (72 out of 74 summits)
  • 99.5% client success in 2016 (68 out of 69 summits)
  • 98% client success in 2015

Please note expedition success is different to client success as only one client has to reach the summit for it to be successful.

Why do we achieve such good results

  • Adventure Peaks are High Altitude Mountain specialists
  • Additional summits climbed during the acclimatisation phase
  • No load carrying
  • High Guiding ratio
  • 3 days set aside for a summit attempt

Trip dossier

Trip dossier

  • Estimated International flights from London (Flight inclusive package)
  • A British expedition team leader. Small groups may use a local leader.
  • Internal Air travel (if Flights inclusive package only)
  • Permits, charges, importation taxes and levies payable to the Local Authorities in connection with the expedition.
  • Transfers to and from the in-country airport if flights booked with Adventure Peaks
  • Food, fuel and cooking equipment whilst on the mountain. 
  • All meals and accommodation in the Baksan Valley Hotel (excluding drinks and excluding extra nights due to summiting early)
  • All communal equipment necessary for the climb. 
  • Medical safety equipment and supplies. 
  • 90 – 120 litre kit bag for expedition members for UK based clients. A logoed top will be substituted for all clients residing outside of the UK and for returning customers. 
  • 15% discount off the RRP on equipment and clothing purchased at the Adventure Peaks shop
  • Personal climbing clothes and equipment. 
  • Personal insurance, visas, departure tax and inoculations.
  • Transfers to and from the in-country airport if flights NOT booked with Adventure Peaks
  • Internal flights to Mineralnye Vody if land only package booked.
  • Drinks at the Hotel in the valley
  • Accommodation and meals for any extra nights in the Valley due to summittiing early, or in Nalchik/Moscow
  • Travel to and from UK airport (unless otherwise specified).
  • Personal medical supplies.
  • Personal use of communication equipment
  • Excess baggage. 
  • Tips for local guides. 
  • Costs associated with an expedition finishing early. 
  • Costs associated with you leaving an expedition early. 
  • Costs associated with extending a trip due to bad weather or other circumstances.

Day 1 International travel via Moscow

Day 2 We arrive late morning in Mineralnye Vody (Mineral Waters) just to the North of the Caucasus mountain range. From here a 4-hour overland journey by road past fields of sunflowers takes us to the Upper Baksan Valley. We arrive at our hotel which will form the main base for the expedition. (H/L,B, L,D)

Day 3 From our hotel we drive to Verkhniy Baksan, here we leave the main road and take the road as far as possible up the Syltran-Su valley (ideally to 2300m, but will depend on road conditions). At the end of the road we will trek to Lake Syltrankel at 3000m, 3-4 hours, where we will have lunch, set up our overnight camp, refresh skills and relax. (C, B, L, D).

Day 4
Today we make our ascent of Mount Mukal (3899m). On a clear day you will also be rewarded with beautiful views across the Baksan valley towards Elbrus. (C,B,L,D).

Day 5 After packing up camp ready for the porters we descend back to the valley and return to the hotel to make our final preparations for the Elbrus summit bid. (H/L,B,L,D).

Day 6 Today we take the cable car and chair lift to the Barrels at 3800m on Elbrus (also called ‘Bochky’ or ‘Karabashi’), our base for the next few nights to further aid the process of acclimatisation before our summit bid. Whilst on the mountain the accommodation is more basic but food will be cooked for you. If time permits we will do a further short acclimatisation walk to the old burnt down Prijutt Refuge, 4060m. (MH,B,L,D)

Day 7 Today our destination is the Pastukov Rocks stretching from 4500-4700m, allowing us to practice crampon work as well as being rewarded with good views of Ushba, one of the most famous mountains of the region,often described as the Matterhorn of the Caucasus. We overnight at the Barrels. (MH,B,L,D)

Days 8 to 10 Potential summit days:
We rise in the early hours and prepare for a 3am departure for the highest point of Europe. It is often possible to obtain a lift by Snowcat to around 4500m. The route from here is a steady climb up to the Sedlowina Saddle, the col between the two peaks of Elbrus. From here the final 300 metres of ascent to the West summit is on steeper snow slopes. The ascent is approximately 8-12 hours round trip. Time permitting we will return to our hotel base in the valley to celebrate or spend a further night in the Barrels. (MH,B,L,D)

Day 11 Morning transfer to Mineralnye Vody and fly to Moscow for late afternoon International flights, usually getting you home the same day.

Previous trip reports from Elbrus

elbrus 8.10.2 Mount Elbrus - Summit Success!
Taiss Thumbnail Choosing boots for 4000m to 6000m Peaks - If you plan to head to expeditions like Mont Blanc or Mount Elbrus and are looking to compare boots for the trip, read our review and Use discount code covid boot 20% at the checkout
13 Elbrus Elbrus South – 14th September 2019 - 23rd September Summit success - congratulations to the team!
Elbrus05-09-19-008 Elbrus South 5th September - 13th September Summit success for the whole team!
Elbrus 2019-09-01 at 14.15.25 Elbrus South 24th August - 1st September Summit success!
4 Elbrus 15th Aug 2019 report - Read Becci Amos' round up of their successful Elbrus expedition
Elbrus-summit-22-8-19 Elbrus 15th August - 22nd August Summit success for the whole team!
4 acclimitisation on Elbrus Elbrus South 3rd August - 10th August - Summit success!
Summit day JKW Elbrus 13th June 2019 Elbrus North 23rd July - Summit Success! Congratulations to the team.
21 Elbrus summit group Elbrus South 25th July - 2nd August. Summit success!

It is vitally important that you have adequate travel insurance for your trip with Adventure Peaks. We recognise the complexity and variety of choice in the insurance market and know that many of you either have your own preferred insurer or have annual multi trip cover in place already. If this is the case, please ensure that your insurer is aware of your Adventure Peaks itinerary and can agree to cover the activities being undertaken.

Adventure Peaks do not provide any advice on travel insurance, although it is a requirement of our booking conditions that you have travel insurance which covers the activities which you are likely to be undertaking on your holiday. Cover must include emergency medical, helicopter evacuation, repatriation and rescue expenses.

It is strongly recommended that suitable cancellation insurance is purchased at the time of booking as all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Suggested insurance companies include:

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35 reviews for Mount Elbrus – Southern approach

  1. Rated 4 out of 5

    Antoni C

    Carrie was a start. She talked constantly, encouraged and support us when needed and her depth of experience was a source of great comfort when the going got tough. I researched Elbrus prior to my trip. I was impressed with the values of Adventure Peaks which seem to be client focused.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Rhodri T

    I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Elbrus and would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work in ensuring not only enjoyment, but also personal success in summiting the Mountain.

    Mark Riley performed excellently. He worked extremely hard throughout the trip to try and ensure the success of the entire group, which was no mean task given the huge range of age and experience. He maintained the safety and cohesion of the group despite the clear desire of one member to go alone.

    I would unhesitatingly commend Mark and would be delighted to be led by him on any future trips i undertake with Adventure Peaks.

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wayne P

    I would like to thank the adventure peaks team for making my holiday enjoyable and stress free. I would especially like to thank Martin for being such a great guide/leader and travelling companion. He truly is a fine ambassador for adventure peaks. Local staff were also excellent.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Ciaran H

    The local leader was exceptional. Very professional. The notes for the Moscow extension were good. Flight travel and internal transfers all lined up well.

    The Barrels were brilliant and the most enjoyable part was of course the top, along with the beer and shish kebab afterwards. Local agents added nice touches by giving as tea, socks and a certificate as gifts.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5


    Everything was excellent-hotels, views, food, guides and weather. Guides were professional but approachable. Delighted to summit and trip was brilliant.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5


    Everything was awesome and I was very happy with the leader. Please continue in your excellent work.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Karl coan (verified owner)

    I did this back in August 2015, summiting on the 6th September. All team members hit the summit in good time, safe and sound on a beautifully clear day! We flew from London to Moscow , then a short wait to catch a flight to mineralyne vodi, we were blessed here with the weather as it was in the 30’s!, it stayed that way throughout the acclimatisation hikes.

    I loved the way AP put this trip together, our acclimatisation was done prior to reaching the barrels(3800m), on a trek to observatory 3080m ish, with views to Elbrus’ twin peaks and also Cheget(3500m ish) which we would climb the next day. The best acclimatisation trek was Andyrchi(3900m ish), very tough but equally as rewarding.

    We had a strong group and this was a little tester. I understand that this peak can’t always be included as it requires permission to climb close to the day , while you are there. These acclimatisation climbs are done off the main Elbrus stretch and are gorgeous. if we were to have started at the base of Elbrus with a climb high sleep low approach, it would have been an uninteresting start, with not much to look at…its bland and full of tourists?.

    When you reach the barrels and above(mainly above)things vastly improve. At this stage you’re nicely acclimatised, but still in need of a little more exposure before going for your summit attempt. We had a little walk to the diesel hut(around 4050m), then the following day a longer and harder trek just beyond the pastukhov rocks(around 4800m). I became a little ill at the barrels and Mark, our leader was on hand with support and advise throughout, a good leader. Also Vladamere (vlad the lad) the Russian guild was great. Anyway, we ended up using a spare day on the Saturday to rest and also because the following day forecast a better weather slot for the group. It worked a treat, summit day was hard,slow going and early!. We made a good pace and in fresh snow were allowed kindly by other climbers to tackle the harder section(just after the saddle)first….thanks!! Ha.

    Just after a short rope section we dropped our bags down for the final 20min section to the summit. As previously said the full group made it and we all agreed the views were spectacular, I would say breath taking in more ways than one!. The team both here and in Russia were great, so a belated thanks to all involved at adventure peaks. Also a big thanks to all the group for the support and laughs, highs and lows.

    This was supposed to be a quick couple of sentences, but look what happened… And I could go on but won’t, except to say if you’re reading this you’re obviously thinking of climbing the highest point in Europe, there’s not a better place to book with. If you’re worried about your fitness take time to train, but know that it’s the mind that will carry you to the top. If you do go for it, I wish you the best of luck!!

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Mr L (verified owner)

    Fantastic in every way. The trip was really well organised and the staff on the ground in Russia (contact, guide etc amazing). The acclimitisation treks and peaks just as exciting as Elbrus itself. A small group but perfectly gelled. We reached the summit at 6:30am and could not have asked for anything more from this trip. A must do.

  9. Rated 5 out of 5


    This was without doubt my best adventure for a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Am looking for something similar with you next year. Highlights? Looking at a clear sky at two in the morning and being amazed at the stars and clarity of the sky.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5


    I was lucky to have an amazing team around me, that includes, the local guide, team leader and the rest of the group. We made a great team altogether. Matt was there when you wanted him. Generally a laid back but comfortable guy to be around. Stood back a little but allowed the vastly experienced Vladimir (in this region) to take the lead. If I had a problem I would have no hesitation mentioning it to Matt…

  11. Rated 5 out of 5


    Excellent programme of acclimatising but always the guide was excellent and couldn’t fault him. Flights and transfers were well organised…everyone in the shop was very helpful and gave a lot of helpful information regarding the trip as well as getting back in touch with quick responses…couldn’t fault the guide, was excellent and very helpful. Very good English too which helped…the whole experience was amazing with the acclimatising walks to the summit. All of it was the highlight of the trip but the summit put the cherry on top.

  12. Rated 4 out of 5


    Experience overall was very very good. Info was very good overall, advice re. boot sizes i.e. you need to take into account wearing multiple pairs of socks and adequate room in the toe box to allow for toe wiggling and to prevent frost bite. Wladimir was quite simply superb in every way. The best guide I’ve ever had and I’ve had many. The acclimatisation training (Mukal summit and camping) was an excellent experience.

  13. Rated 5 out of 5

    Scott P

    Experiences can never be perfect but it wasn’t far off it…
    Trip highlight? There was so many. As soon as we got in the mini bus and left the airport area, you looked right, and in the distance and you could see Mount Elbrus dominating the distant cloud skyline, very steep from that angle too! I told myself, “this is going to be a challenge!” I loved the aspect of sharing the experience with a great team. Mukal Peak was lovely and a welcomed different part of the trip. Elbrus’ views on the golden hour of sunrise and sunset was spectacular! Looking from the barrels, over looking the sun rising and the full view of the breaking sun on the Caucasus Mountain range! 5am I might add.
    Then the views from the top of the summit in clear skies, you could see for miles and a feeling of accomplishment! I remember thinking, I want to scale another mountain as soon as possible.

  14. Rated 5 out of 5


    Fantastic experience. The cook Galina was extraordinary

  15. Rated 4 out of 5


    Well organised trip to a difficult location – successful summit helps too! Great couple of days exploring St Petersburg after the climb

  16. Rated 5 out of 5


    Well organised and managed. Brilliant acclimatisation programme allowed me to summit with no real altitude effects

  17. Rated 4 out of 5


    Huge adventure from beginning to end. Well looked after. I think that the whole trip was fantastic. It was a bonus to summit Elbrus, but the trip was never solely about that for me. I loved our days in Moscow at the start. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and walking with the other group members. I loved Lake Syltrankel and the wild camping nights. It was great fun to all summit Mukal together. The hotel in Cheget was lovely and more than adequate for our needs. The Barrels were ‘basic’ but warm and comfortble, and staying in them was a huge part of the adventure. Vladimir and Johhny were outstanding guides and we had every confidence in their decision making. Galina – our cook – was outstanding. We were fed excellent quality meals – if occasionally a little on the unpredictable side (sausage and chips for breakfast!!). Lyana was delightful and went out of her way to ensure everything ran smoothly. The Caucasus mountains were utterly incredible to see – so beautiful and dramatic. I feel very privileged to have joined this trip!

  18. Rated 5 out of 5


    Guides Vlad and Judith were excellent…couldn’t have asked for more

  19. Rated 5 out of 5


    The area is absolutely stunning. Summiting was great, but the whole experience (apart from the hotel) was above expectations

  20. Rated 5 out of 5


    Excellent service and guides…would definitely like to have them on any future trip

  21. Rated 5 out of 5


    Everything seemed well run and I had a good experience…Gavin is very approachable, very hands on and has the patience of a saint. I would definitely recommend or use Adventure Peaks again.

  22. Rated 5 out of 5


    Great guide and a fun trip

  23. Rated 4 out of 5


    Chris [leader] was fantastic. A really decent guy and very patient with our family. Massive asset to your company

  24. Rated 5 out of 5


    Adventure Peaks, with Paul Etheridge, provided me with a truly amazing experience that has ignited my love for mountaineering. The military background of our trip leader was evident, yet by no means overbearing. I can honestly say that Paul has become a dear friend after this expedition. His professionalism and approachable attitude made him feel less like the ‘boss’ and more like a true leader… The highlights were of course standing atop the mountain, but even more so, the deep connections I was able to make with the members of my team. They were amazing.

  25. Rated 5 out of 5


    Amazing guides, overall well-organised trip and great company. John [leader] was the best…I don’t have anything but good things to say about John! The whole trip was one big highlight. The acclimatisation days were absolutely stunning and real fun! I did not expect it to be that good! I really enjoyed the summit day, the hard climb, the company…

  26. Rated 4 out of 5


    A great experience I really enjoyed, many thanks to AP staff. The fact we didn’t achieve the aim to summit was down to bad luck with the weather and for me didn’t detract from the success of the expedition. In context any negative points are relatively minor, again many thanks for a terrific experience.

  27. Rated 5 out of 5


    Paul’s [trip leader] enthusiasm along with Vladimir’s exceptional experience made me feel at ease and totally safe at all times. The team also bonded well to make the trip more special although I myself did not summit (ill health) the remainder of the team did and I still always felt part of this as Paul kept me up to date at all times so a big thank you to Adventure Peaks – I felt well looked after. The trip leader always had time to listen to people. I also got a personal height record in the acclimatisation walks, hotel staff friendly and food excellent, Russia was a lot better than expected – friendly and always felt safe.

  28. Rated 4 out of 5


    Clear and quick communication prior to the expedition, excellent acclimatisation itinerary, and excellent guides. Connor [trip leader] was fantastic. He made us feel safe throughout the more technical parts of the expedition. He also helped maintain a jovial mood in the group, even when the going got tough. Connor was extremely helpful and approachable throughout the expedition, and his breadth of outdoor knowledge likely made everyone a better and safer mountaineer in the short time he was our guide. The Adventure Peaks expedition combined a decent amount of tactical acclimatisation treks with plenty of rest. Overall this made me feel healthier and well acclimatised for attempting the summit.

  29. Rated 4 out of 5


    Connor [leader] was fantastic from start to finish alongside Vladimir. Massive thanks to these two for making the expedition amazing, keeping us well informed and cared for, always ensuring our expectations were met and talking through any worries and clearly smoothing any issues. Finding solutions immediately to any problems.

    Sunrise behind Elbrus while crossing the traverse and seeing the silhouette of Elbrus on the horizon. Standing on the summit with 360° view of stunning mountain ranges.

  30. Rated 5 out of 5


    The trip itinerary was excellent in my opinion, with plenty of acclimatisation and a mix of camping in the valley and on Mount Elbrus itself. Connor, our British guide, was absolutely excellent and provided the perfect balance of being a guide but also a part of the team, which meant that the atmosphere among the group was a great environment. Connor’s experience as a mountaineer was obvious from his advice throughout the trip. He could not have been better. I was impressed with Adventure Peaks’ level of helpfulness when it came to pre-trip questions about kit etc. The trip was an excellent introduction to winter mountaineering in an interesting location which left me wanting to do more in future.

  31. Rated 5 out of 5

    Jon M

    Had a great trip. I couldn’t give Becci [trip leader] enough praise. She was experienced, professional, calm and calculated, particularly in high pressure environments. She was easy to approach with issues and problems and managed to sort anything out with ease. She took everything within her stride and managed the group and on occasion the Russian guides magnificently. Highlights of the trip were reaching the summit with the whole team. Definitely helped by the weather but the views and sense of self were very humbling.

  32. Rated 4 out of 5

    Steve D

    Whole experience was very good. The trip leader answered every question put to him and if he couldn’t, made an effort to find out – excellent. The highlight for me was dawn on summit day…and reaching the summit!

  33. Rated 5 out of 5


    Highlights? Reaching the summit of Mount Mukal and Mount Elbrus. I would recommend Adventure Peaks, I felt Adventure Peaks did all that they could to make it a successful trip for me.

  34. Rated 4 out of 5


    Good staff, flexibility in climbing dates. The best bit was getting to the top!

  35. Rated 4 out of 5


    Guides were fantastic…Graham [trip leader] – we got the fantastic bonus of his knowledge. Giving random facts throughout the walk was fantastic and at times a great distraction from the weather

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Moscow Extension (2 nights / 3 days) - £375 A chance to explore the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square or perhaps visit one of the many classic opera, ballets or state circuses. The price you pay covers the Hotel for 2 nights on a B&B basis only and transfers between the airport and the hotel. Our agents will be happy to advise you how to manage any excursions you may want to take, which can be paid for in Moscow, and the best places to visit.


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