Russia 2022 – Mount Elbrus

Science in the Wild Education/Adventure Experience

CANCELED: Science in the Wild Stands With Ukraine

Interested in trekking in the beautiful Caucasus Mountains? If so, then join Science in the Wild for our expedition to Elbrus (18,510 ft./5642 m)!  You’ll learn about the geology of the landscape, help us collect snow samples towards understanding how the snowpack is changing in the high alpine region, and participate in studies to understand how our bodies acclimate to such extreme altitudes.

Total land costs: $4500

Includes: all transfers while in Mineralnye Vody and to/from the mountain; chairlift fees; lodging in refuges while on the mountain;  breakfasts and dinners on the mountain; Russian and Western guides; Elbrus National Park fees; registration with Alpine Rescue

Excludes: international airfare; internal flights (Moscow/Mineralnye Vody); hotels in Moscow; travel and rescue insurance; excess baggage fees; visa fees; meals in restaurants; snow-track up to 5000 meters on summit day; customary guide and educator gratuities

·         $1000 Deposit will be fully refunded if applicant is not accepted.

If accepted, the following applies: $150 non-refundable registration fee.
·         Full refunds, less registration fee will be provided if requested 90 days prior to expedition departure.
·         50% refund will be provided if requested 60 to 89 days prior to expedition departure.
·         No refunds will be provided 59 days or less prior to expedition.

Deposition of dust and black carbon or soot (pollution) is a problem on accumulation zones of valley glaciers and on snowpack worldwide. This soot is the result of incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels (e.g., Goldberg et al., 1985), while dust is released from devegetated or dry soils due to land use changes. These dark contaminants absorb more solar radiation, much like you do when wearing a dark versus light t-shirt, thereby reducing the natural albedo (reflectivity) of snow and ice, and leading to enhanced melting (e.g., Kaspari et al., 2011). Help us study these effects firsthand and add to our global database of samples!
Goldberg, E., (1985), Black carbon in the environment, Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Kaspari, S. D., Schwikowski, M., Gysel, M., Flanner, M. G., Kang, S., Hou, S., and Mayewski, P. A., (2011), Recent increase in black carbon concentrations from a Mt. Everest ice core spanning 1860–2000 AD, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L04703, doi:10.1029/2010gl046096.

Trip Itinerary
Day 1 - Travel Day
This will be a travel day from your home country to Moscow, Russia.
Day 2 - Moscow, Russia
Plan to arrive to Moscow today. We will greet you at the airport and provide transport to our hotel for the night. We’ll have a team dinner and discussion in the evening, to prepare for the climb and science ahead.
Day 3 - Terskol
Today we’ll fly to Mineralnye Vody from Moscow’s domestic airport. We’ll then drive to Terskol and stay in a hotel near Cheget Square.
Day 4 - Terskol
After an early breakfast, we’ll begin our acclimatization hike. Today’s goal is to reach 11,000 ft./3353 m, on the grassy slopes of the Cheget ski area, where we’ll get beautiful views of Mt. Elbrus across the valley. We’ll chat about geology here and how Mt. Elbrus came into existence. After descending via chairlift back to town, we’ll spend the rest of the afternoon organizing our gear for the climb.


Day 5 - The Heart of Elbrus - 3800 m/12,467 ft.
From Terskol, we will head up to “The Heart of Elbrus” refuge at the foot of Elbrus’ glaciers, from where we will base out of for our summit climb.  After an acclimatization hike and discussion about science on the lower reaches of the glaciers and snowfields to approximately 13,000 ft., we’ll return to the hut for dinner and sleep.
Day 6 - The Heart of Elbrus - 3800 m/12,467 ft.
We will build upon our acclimatization by climbing to Pastukhova Rocks at 15,000 ft., gaining familiarity with the route and reviewing basic mountaineering techniques. We’ll chat about geology and glaciology while we’re here and a demonstration on how to do snow sampling. We have dinner and spend the night again at the refuge.


Day 7 - The Heart of Elbrus - rest day
Today we’ll spend the morning reviewing more mountaineering techniques such as ice axe self-arrest, crampon techniques and roped travel. We’ll also collect snow samples and process them back at the hut. The primary focus of the day, though, is to rest and pack for the summit attempt.


Day 8 - Summit Day! (18,510 ft./5,642 m)
We begin our ascent with an alpine start via “snow-cat” to Pastukhova Rocks (15,000 ft.). From there, we climb low-angled snow slopes as we traverse towards the Saddle at 17,700 ft. Mt. Elbrus has two large summit domes, separated by a saddle. Both are comparable in size but the West Summit is slightly higher, and, thus, our target. The route gets somewhat steeper as we gain the upper summit plateau where we then follow the ridge to the summit. After enjoying the summit and its views of the Caucasus mountain range, we descend back to the refuge, collecting snow samples along the way (easier to carry down than up!). Depending on our schedule, the time of day, and the weather we have the option of taking the tram back down into the valley or spending one more night on the mountain. Expected climbing time is 10 to 12 hours.
Day 9 - extra (weather) day
This extra day is scheduled into the itinerary in case we encounter bad weather or need additional time for acclimatization. Overnight in the refuge.
Day 10 - extra (weather) day
This extra day is scheduled into the itinerary in case we encounter bad weather or need additional time for acclimatization. Overnight in the refuge.


Day 11 - Moscow, Russia
After driving to the domestic airport, we fly back to Moscow. The rest of the day is yours to further explore the culture and character of Moscow! Take time to visit The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, Lenin’s Tomb, Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the Kremlin.

Note: if we come back a day or two earlier from the mountain given good weather, we’ll have some extra time to spend in Moscow.

Day 12 - Departure
Today you’ll depart for your home country.

Ok, I'm interested, what do I do now?

Send us an email or give us a call to register your interest and we’ll provide you with an application for the expedition.

Click on the button below!