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Route Name: South Normal Route, Standard Route, Azau Valley, Классический маршрут, С Юга, South Face     Duration 7 Day(s)
Activity Type and Level: Mountaineering (Challenging)     Max. Elevation: 2 300 m / 7 546 ft
Type of Climb: Snow & Ice     Vertical Gain: 1 743 m / 5 719 ft
Location: Europe, Russia: (Kabardino-Balkarskaya Respublika, Karachayevo-Cherkesiya)     Length: 11 km / 7 miles
Starting Point: 43°15'14.914''N
    Climbing Season(s): 01 Jun-30 Sep;
Parent Range: Central Caucasus     Nearest Airport(s): Mineralnye Vody Airport (MRV);
Mountain: Mount Elbrus (5 642 m / 18 511 ft)     Convenience Center(s): Terskol;
First Ascent: 1/7/1874 Peter Knubel (Switzerland), Horace Walker (Great Britain), Frederick Gardner (Great Britain), Florence Crauford Grove (Great Britain), Ahiya Sottaiev (Russia)... More     National Park(s): National Park Prielbrusie;
Your Chance To

Mt. Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe and an excellent experience for the aspiring mountaineer. Standing 18,510 feet above sea level, Elbrus is the perfect challenge for those who have had some experience with mountaineering and are looking to test themselves at high altitude or on the 7 summits quest to climb all of the highest summits on each of the seven continents. Elbrus is a great next step on the road to peaks such as Aconcagua or Denali. Though Elbrus is the highest summit in Europe, it is one of the technically easiest of the higher peaks on the continent.


From Terskol village, arrange a taxi or walk the 5 kms (3 miles) up the valley and along the road to Azau at 2350 meters (7700 feet) elevation. This is where the first cable car station is, and you can’t miss it. From the cable car station, you can cheat and ride the cable cars up to the Low Hut (located at what is known as Garabashi Station), or you can walk. From the Low Hut, head south and up the slopes to the High Camp location at 4157 meters (13,638) feet elevation. The trail is usually well packed by snowcat and takes about an hour. From the High Camp, continue south up the slopes while heading straight towards the East Peak. Make sure to stay on route (usually marked with wands) because the surrounding slopes are covered with huge crevasses. There are no crevasses of consequence as long as you stay on route. You will pass between two linear rock bands before the route becomes steeper and climbs to the Pashtuhova Rocks, located at 4670 meters (15,321 feet) elevation. After the Pashtuhova Rocks, the route first heads south towards the East Peak, but after a short distance, it turns left and heads more in a westerly direction as it climbs up the slopes. The route reaches a gentle-sloped snow filled basin before climbing up to the saddle between the two peaks. From the saddle, head west and then head left towards the rocks of the shoulder of the West Summit. Cross the broad slope to the summit. Total elevation gain from the Low Hut is 1743 meters (5718 feet), and the climb usually takes 6-9 hours up. Descent usually takes 3-6 hours. The route travels via moderate snow and ice slopes up the glacier.

Getting There

South Route to Mount Elbrus is accessible from Moscow via an internal flight to the town of Mineralnye Vody. From here it takes a 3 hour by taxi or private van transport to the mountain village of Cheget and Terskol and acclimatize in route to the mountain. Usually climbers spend several nights in the village to get acclimatization before making their way to the start of the climb. The High Camp can be reached by taking a cable car ride.

Red Tape

Elbrus Area Preserve permission is required. It is certainly a good idea to register in rescue service in Terskol if you are not traveling with a guide service. Registering is free of charge.

Are You Ready?

Climbing Mount Elbrus requires familiarity with snow and ice skills (up to 45 degree slopes), strength endurance, and strong cardiovascular conditioning. Just because you exercise regularly (four to six times per week) does not mean you have the conditioning needed to reach the summit of Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak on the European continent. Plenty of people who have the endurance to run a marathon fail to summit high-altitude peaks. Pure cardiovascular fitness is simply not enough. Summit day alone requires stamina necessary to travel sometimes 12-15 hours round trip. You should be comfortable enough to ascend 1000 meters (3000 feet) of elevation on successive days carrying up to 12-15 kg (25-30 pounds).


A common and sometimes fatal mistake that climbers make on the descent of the peak is to head low and down too early after the half-traverse below the saddle after returning from the summit. It is especially common when the weather is stormy with low visibility. On the descent, make sure to stay high up on the slopes of the east peak, rather than going down the slope too early after the saddle. If you descend too early, the route becomes very steep there and some nasty crevasses and falls have taken many lives there. It is certainly a good idea to register in rescue service in Terskol if you are not traveling with a guide service. Registering is free of charge.

Cell and Satellite Coverage


Quality: Good coverage, gaps possible

Mobile internet: Presented

Note: Cellular network covers the most part of the South Route.



Quality: Excellent coverage

Mobile internet: Presented

Note: All major sattelite phones work proper in this area.


Base Camp Elevation: 3 800 m / 12 467 ft
Summit Camp Elevation: Please update
Accommodation in Base Camp: Both - huts and tents
Accommodation above Base Camp: Both - huts and tents
Number of Camps: 1
Avg. Cost: 500 USD
Age Restrictions: 18
Soloing: Yes
Avg. Descent Time: 5 Hour(s)

Key Points

Name (Elevation)
West Summit
(5 642 m / 18 511 ft)
The main summit of Mount Elbrus is the West Summit.
(5 350 m / 17 553 ft)
Saddle is a big snowy plateau situated between West and East summits. There is a rescue hut located just at the beginning of rocky ridge that follows from the Saddle to the East Summit. The coordinates of rescue hut are N 43° 21’ 05,0” and E 042° 26’ 53,0”. This hut is for emergency use only. Maximum capacity is 5-6 people, no utilities provided except a few bunk beds.
Pashtukhova Rocks
(4 670 m / 15 322 ft)
High Camp
(4 050 m / 13 287 ft)
Low Camp (Garabashi)
(3 800 m / 12 467 ft)
The normal starting point for the climb of Mount Elbrus.


Guided Tours


  • 1
    Day 1
  • 7 000 m / 22 966 ft
  • 600 m / 1 969 ft

Acclimatization hike to Mount Cheget. This is a long day of walking with good altitude increases. By the end of this day, most climbers feel strong and accustomed to the altitude.

  • 2
    Day 2
  • 2 500 m / 8 202 ft
  • 350 m / 1 148 ft

Move to the Low Hut (Garabashi) and lodge at above 3800 meters (11000 feet). Climbers often use the tram and ski lift to help move their gear. Lodge in Low Hut.


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