Mt. Elbrus is the highest point of Europe. The Caucasus
Main Range is considered to be a border between
Europe to the North and Asia to the South in most (but
not all) guidebooks and encyclopedias. Two main
Mt. Elbrus summits are about 11 km (6.8 miles) to the
North from the Main Range, inside European territory.
The Main Range is a state border between Russia and
Georgia. Both countries are parts of former USSR country
but now are absolutely independent states.
There is no need of Georgian visa to
climb Elbrus because ALL
Elbrus area and the mountain itself is within Russian
territory. It is not simple to reach Georgia from Elbrus
area because one must go through one of three official
border guard posts. Two of them (in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia) are in unstable areas where Georgian government has
no control and real working one may be opened may be closed
on unknown period without notification.
Western summit 5642.7 m (18513 ft) and Eastern summit 5621 m (18442 ft)
with the Saddle elevation 5416 m (17769 ft)
Glaciations area (more then 50 glaciers) is about 144 square km
(56 square miles). Snow-line (in August) - 3400 m (11483 ft)
Cable and chair lifts in the area.
There are two separate lines.
Two cable lifts and one chair lift parts going one by
Cable car bottom station in the Baksan valley -
2200 m (7218 ft)
Top chair lift station ("Barrels" huts) - 3900 m (12795 ft)
Two parts of chairlifts going one by one.
Bottom station is at Cheget site (hotel 'Cheget')
Middle station, cafe 'Ai'
Upper station, meteorological station.
Some Points on the slopes of Elbrus
The Barrels (Botchki) huts, upper lift station - 3900 m
'Diesel' hut (former Priut-11 spot) - 4100 m
Pastuckhov Rocks - from 4650 to 4800 m (15256 - 15748 ft)
Saddle - 5416 m (17769 ft)
Approximate direct way distances:
Bottom cable car station - Top chair lift station -
5000 m (16404 ft)
Top chair lift station - Pastuckhov Rocks - 2800 m (9186 ft)
Pastuckhov Rocks - Saddle - 2500 m (8202 ft)
Saddle - Summit - 750 m (2461 ft)
Approximate real foot way distances:
Top chair lift station - Pastuckhov Rocks - 3300 m (10827 ft)
Pastuckhov Rocks - Saddle - 4000 m (13123 ft)
Saddle - Summit - 1200 m (3937 ft)
Getting there: (see the transportation
of the region)
By plane or train to Nalchik or
Mineralniye Vody. (See
It's about 4 hours drive from Mineralniye Vody to Azau and
about 2.5 hours from Nalchik to Azau. Azau is the highest
village in the end of Baksan valley. There is the cable car
station to Elbrus in Azau village. Regular public transport
(bus) sometimes is available sometimes not. There are no
public buses from Mineralnye Vody to Terskol or Azau. If you
go from Mineralnye Vody you may be forced to make some
changes: in Baksan (that is the gates to the Baksan valley,
it's easy to get there by public transport), in Tyrnyauz, in
Elbrus village (20 min drive to Azau). If you go from
Nalchic or Prochladnyi you can take a public bus to Terskol,
but the timetable is unpredictable and sometimes this bus
does not go for some days. The most common way is
coming together with other travelers and making
negotiations with a minibus driver for shared transfer.
Transportation distances: (see region
Mineralniye Vody airport - Piatigorsk: 28 km
Piatigorsk - Baksan: 74 km (46 mi)
Nalchik - Baksan: 26 km (16.2 mi)
Baksan - Tyrnyauz: 53 km (33 mi)
Tyrnyauz - Elbrus: 44 km (27.3 mi)
Elbrus - Terskol: 15 km (9.3 mi)
Terskol - Azau: 3.5 km (2.2 mi)
Terskol -Cheget: 1.5 km (0.9 mi)
facilities in Elbrus area with approx. capacity (winter
Not absolutely full list but all main
accommodations are here. Number in brackets is approximate
number of beds.
Cheget hotel (350), Chiran lodge(16), Nakra lodge (20),
Neva-2 lodge (16), Povorot lodge (25), some new no-name
lodges with total number of beds about 40.
The main road near Cheget and Terskol:
Itkol hotel(250), Dinamo lodge (50), MBS lodge (37+15),
Gorianka /Baliuzhan lodge (20)
Terskol hotel (350), Volfram hotel (100)
Azau village and lifts:
Free ride cafe (16), A lodge (15), A lodge 200 m higher than
valley (10), Logovo lodge (45), VGE lodge (20). There are
number of big lodges under construction but at the moment
they are not ready.
Ozon hotel (35), Sokol lodge (20), Prielbrusie lodge (40),
UMC mountaineering camp (50)
Elbrus slopes (just
The Barrels huts (45), the Diesel hut (50).
capacity of reasonable good hotel-lodge accommodation in
Elbrus area is estimated as about 2000 beds. There is about
500 beds capacity of homestay possibilities (in villages
from Neitrinno - to Azau). There are about 200 beds under
construction in several lodges in Azau and Cheget.
To climb Elbrus officially
one must have (full list of
1. Russian visa.
Voucher with Elbrus region mentioned.
4. Elbrus area preserve permission.
If you want to hike in Adyl-Su, Adyr-Su and other side
valleys that are to the South from the main Baksan valley
you must have Border zone permission.
Here below is the detailed information about the items.
Visa: As the
Caucasus is Russia you need Russian visa to go there.
There is no any city mentioned in your visa and if
you are already in Russia you can go anywhere (except
military and border zones). To apply for
a visa you need invitation (visa support) from a tourist
company or private person. Visa companies also offer such
invitations. Russian visa has fixed dates and period of
stay. You can enter Russia and leave it on any date within
visa period but you will not be allowed to enter before the
beginning of visa period and overstay is a serious
violation. If you overstay you may be delayed in Russia
until all penalty procedures are over. If you leave Russia
you will need new visa to come here again or 'two entry'
visa. Tourist visa may have up to 1 month period and one
Voucher: This is a part of
invitation (visa support) which is used to apply for Russian
visa in the Russian Consulate. Actually there is a rule to
have that voucher along with you but this rule does not work
in most regions of Russia. In the Caucasus police officer
can ask for that voucher and you may have problems if you
have no voucher at all or have voucher without Elbrus region
mentioned. Make a copy of the voucher when you take papers
to the Consulate.
There is a law in Russia to register your visa in a
local OVIR (visa and registering department) if you
are going to stay in any region more then for few days. Even
if you have registration in Moscow you must also register in
the Caucasus area too. You may be stopped by a policeman and
asked about your registration. If you have no registration
you will be fined. The only OVIR office in Elbrus area is in
Tyrnyauz (cost is 50 Rubles). Also one can make
registration in MinVody airport (costs 300 Rubles because it
a kind of service there). This registration is rarely asked
in the Valley but most likely will be asked at Mineralnye
Vody airport on your way back. To register you must have
passport, Russian visa and immigration card. OVIR
registration is a stamp on your immigration card. An
inviting tourist company (if you use their service) can do
this for you without your presence when they have your
Elbrus area preserve permission: This is new
(started in summer 2004) regulation. While you are in Elbrus
area (all territory higher than Elbrus village) you must
have this permission. No need to go somewhere
to get it - an inspector will find you and will ask to
purchase it if you have no the permission. The cost is USD
20 (in 2004). An inviting tourist company (if you use their
service) can do this for you in advance without your
Immigration card: This is a
fancy paper which must be filled out before the passport
control gates when you enter Russia. You have to show it to
passport control officer and have it with you when you are
in Russia and when you leave the country. The most and
only important thing that OVIR registration is stamped there
that is why the card is must have thing. Also it must be
filled out properly in other case it may be considered
* * *
Border zone permit:
The main Caucasus mountain range is a border between Russia
and Georgia and territory of about 5 -10 km inside
Russia (depends of existing mountain passes) considered to
be a border zone. (See border zone area on a map from our
map page) You can walk in the Baksan valley, climb Mt
Elbrus or explore the mountains North to Baksan valley. If
you are going in the valleys near the border you may be
stopped by border guard and asked about your border zone
permit. If you have no permit you may be arrested, taken
to the nearest border office (in Verckhni Baksan) and fined.
You can apply for the permit in Nalchik only (it is easy,
costs nothing, but takes time to get there and wait for some
hours or even until next day). An inviting tourist company
(if you use their service) can do this for you in advance
without your presence.
No need to have a climbing permit for climbing mountains
in Russia, also Mt Elbrus. However it may be good idea
to register in rescue service (in Terskol). It's free
and may be useful if you have a problem.
* * *
If you have no..
Visa: You can
not enter Russia.
Voucher: You may be delayed and
You may be delayed and fined.
Elbrus area preserve
You will be forced to pay on the spot.
when you are in the zone already: You may be arrested
and taken to border guard office. It may take a lot of time.
Of course you may be fined.
For the most recent news and permit requirements if any -
see Elbrus News