Location: in Russia
Elevation: 5,642 metres (18,510 ft)
Location: on the border of Asia and Europe
Range: Caucasus
Prominence: 4,741 metres (15,554 ft) Ranked 10th
Coordinates: 43°21′18″N 42°26′21″E
Topo map: Elbrus and Upper Baksan Valley by EWP
Type: Stratovolcano (dormant)
Age of rock: Unknown
Last eruption: 50 CE ± 50 years
First ascent: (west summit) 1874, by Florence Crauford Grove, Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker, Peter Knubel and guide Ahiya Sottaiev (lower summit) 22 July 1829 by Khilar Hachirov
Easiest route: basic snow/ice climb

Mount Elbrus (Russian: Эльбрус) is a volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia, near the border of Georgia, in the northern Iranian plateau. A stratovolcano that has lain dormant for about 2,000 years, it is the highest mountain in the Caucasus. Mt. Elbrus (west summit) stands at 5,642 metres (18,510 ft) and it is the highest mountain in Europe; it is also the highest point of Russia. The east summit is slightly lower: 5,621 metres (18,442 ft).

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The name Elbrus is a sound metathesis of Alborz. The name Alborz is derived from that of Harā Bərəzaitī, a legendary mountain in Persian mythology. Harā Bərəzaitī reflects Proto-Iranian *Harā Bṛzatī. *Bṛzatī is the feminine form of the adjective *bṛzant- "high", the reconstructed ancestor of modern Persian boland (بلند) and Barz/Berazandeh. Harā may be interpreted as "watch" or "guard", from an Indo-European root *ser- "protect". In Middle Persian, Harā Bərəzaitī became Harborz, Modern Persian Alborz, which is cognate with Elbrus.

Other local names

Mingi Tau (Минги-Тау) - a Karachay-Balkar/original name of the mount. Mingi Tau means an eternal mountain.
Jin-Padishah (Джин-падишах) — a Turkic name of Perso-Arabic origin
Albar, Albors (Альбар, Альборс) — tall (Iranian)
Ialbuzi, Yalbuz (იალბუზი, Ялбуз) — snow mane (Georgian)
Uashkhemakhue' (УIэщхэмахуэ) — Mount of Happiness (Adyghe people, Circassians)


Elbrus stands 20 km (18 mi) north of the main range of the Greater Caucasus and 65 km (40 miles) south-southwest of the Russian town of Kislovodsk. Its permanent icecap feeds 22 glaciers, which in turn give rise to the Baksan, Kuban, and Malka Rivers.


elbrus_satelight_image.jpgSatellite picture of Mount Elbrus

The ancients knew the mountain as Strobilus, Latin for 'pine cone', a direct loan from the ancient Greek strobilos, meaning 'a twisted object' — a long established botanical term that describes the shape of the volcano's summit. Myth held that here Zeus had chained Prometheus, the Titan who had stolen fire from the gods and given it to ancient man — likely a reference to historic volcanic activity.

The lower of the two summits was first ascended on 10 July 1829 (Julian calendar) Khilar Hachirov, a karachay guide for an Imperial Russian army scientific expedition led by General Emmanuel, and the higher (by about 40 m - 130 ft) in 1874 by an English expedition led by F. Crauford Grove and including Frederick Gardner, Horace Walker, and Swiss climber Peter Knubel. During the early years of the Soviet Union, mountaineering became a popular sport of the masses, and there was tremendous traffic on the mountain. In the winter of 1936, a very large group of inexperienced Komsomol members attempted the mountain, and ended up suffering many fatalities when they slipped on the ice and fell to their deaths. The Wehrmacht occupied the area surrounding the mountain from August 1942 to January 1943,[7] during World War II, with 10,000 soldiers of a Gebirgsjäger (Mountain Troop) division. A possibly apocryphal story tells of a Soviet pilot being given a medal for bombing the main mountaineering hut, Priyut 11 ("Refuge of the 11"), while it was occupied. He was then later nominated for a medal for not hitting the hut, but instead the German fuel supply, leaving the hut standing for future generations. When news reached Adolf Hitler that a detachment of mountaineers was sent by the general officer commanding the German division to climb to the summit of Elbrus and plant the swastika flag at its top, he reportedly flew into a rage, called the achievement a "stunt" and threatened to court martial the general.

Mount Elbrus and its two peaksThe Soviet Union encouraged ascents of Elbrus, and in 1956 it was climbed en masse by 400 mountaineers to mark the 400th anniversary of the incorporation of Kabardino-Balkaria, the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic where Elbrus was located.

From 1959 through 1976, a cable car system was built in stages that can take visitors as high as 3,800 metres (12,500 ft). There is a wide variety of routes up the mountain, but the normal route, which is free of crevasses, continues more or less straight up the slope from the end of the cable car system. During the summer, it is not uncommon for 100 people to be attempting the summit via this route each day. Winter ascents are rare, and are usually undertaken only by very experienced climbers. Elbrus is notorious for its brutal winter weather, and summit attempts are few and far between. The climb is not technically difficult, but it is physically arduous because of the elevations and the frequent strong winds. The average annual death toll on Elbrus is 15-30, primarily due to many unorganized and poorly equipped attempts to summit the mountain.

Mount Elbrus should not be confused with the Alborz (also called Elburz) mountains in Iran, which also derive their name from the legendary mountain Harā Bərəzaitī in Persian mythology.

Parts of this article are from the NASA Earth Observatory

In 1997, a Land Rover Defender was driven to the summit, breaking into the Guinness Book of Records.

Climbing Routes: Normal Route

The Normal Route is the easiest, safest and fastest on account of the cable car and chairlift system which operates from about 9am till 3pm. Starting for the summit at about 2am from the Diesel Hut should allow just enough time to get back down to the chairlift if movement is efficient. Note in bad weather the chairlift section may be closed, also note the chairlift ride is 15 minutes long and can be very cold.

The majority of groups take the cable car system from Azau roadhead to Mir Station from where either a 1 hour walk or a chairlift takes them to Garabashi - "The Barrels". Above it may be possible to hire a snow cat to go to the Diesel Hut (site of the burnt Priut Hut) or higher to Pastukhova Rocks. Walking this takes 90 minutes to the hut and almost 2 hours more to the rocks. The walk to the Saddle takes another 3 to 4 hours and from there to the summit, a further 5 to 6 hours should be allowed for.

There are no major difficulties on the route, however after strong winds icy sections may be exposed and a fall could result in a slide. Particular care should be taken on the traversing ascent from the Saddle. The Saddle hut is a ruin that offers no shelter. There are few crevasses of any size or danger if you stick to the route but only 50m off the route you could be in dangerous terrain.

Kiukurtliu Route

A longer ascent route starts from below the cable-way Mir station and heads west over glacier slopes towards the Khotiutau pass. Some distance before reaching this the south spur of the Kiukurtliu Cupola is climbed to a broad glaciated saddle behind pt.4912 (top of the SW spur). Now a rising traverse north is made to attain the easy northwest spur by which the summit is gained. This expedition involves 3 nights camping-bivouacs; parties also need a rope, axe and crampons.

Other Routes

Climbing Elbrus from other directions is a tougher proposition because of lack of permanent high facilities. Freshfield always maintained that a route from the east up the Iryk valley, Irykchat glacier and over the Irykchat pass (3667m) on to snowfields below long rock ribs of the east spur would become the shortest and most used approach. A hut built long ago on the north side of the lrykchat pass is now wrecked, and in any event the vertical interval calls for at least 2 camp-bivouacs.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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