Mount Elbrus - Top Russian Hiking Destination
With Europe to the north and Asia to the south, the main range of Mount Elbrus forms the border between Russia and Georgia. The two main summits are inside Europe and it is therefore not necessary for a Georgian visa to climb Mount Elbrus. Georgia is not that simple to reach, as there are three border posts, of which two are extremely unstable and not under the control of the Georgian government, and the other is situated near the city of Vladikavkaz.
Mount Elbrus is one of Russia’s favorite hiking trails, as it offers two line elevations. This Russian hiking destination is the Elbrus line and the Cheget line. The Elbrus hiking line has two cable lifts and the bottom station, the Azau Village, lies at 2 300 meters. The two lift stations are located at different heights, with Krugozor at 2 900 meters and Mir at 3 700 meters. The Garabashi station is situated at 3 800 meters, which is the top chair lift station. The Cheget line also has a two part chair lift system with the bottom station of Cheget located at 2 100 meters. The middle station is at 2 700 meters and the upper station at 3 100 meters. The snowline that is found in the month of August lies at 3 400 meters, and the glaciations area covers 144 square kilometers and boasts more than fifty glaciers. Mount Elbrus is known to have spectacular views from both the eastern summit that is at 5 621 meters and the western summit that lies at 5 642.7 meters. The saddle elevation of this Russian hiking destination is at 5 416 meters.
Since 2004, it is a requirement to have permission to hike in Mount Elbrus if you are hiking in areas that are higher than the Elbrus village. If you planned a trip with a tourist company, they are able to purchase the permit on your behalf, or you will be found by an inspector that will sell you a permit while on your hike. It is also advised to register yourself in Terskol with the rescue department. This is a free service, and in case of an emergency it might be a life saving action.
Another word of advice would be to remain clear of the valleys that are in close proximity to the border. Ensure that you are familiar with these borders and that they are clearly indicated on your map. If you have not applied for a border zone permit to hike within the border zones, you are likely to be stopped by border patrols and arrested for not having a permit. The permits are available at no cost at the border office in Verckhni Baksan, but be prepared to wait up to a day for the permit or the tourist company can do this for you before your arrival. To hike in Mount Elbrus will prove to be an unforgettable experience, no matter which summit you decide to challenge yourself with.