It is a photoreport about skitour to Mount Elbrus 5-12 of June 2016.
Photos, GPS tracks and some advices about skitour to Mount Elbrus.
Sunrise at Skali Pastukhova.
To be honest, I don't like to climb to Elbrus. I mean that I don't like to do this in summer by the classic rout from the South. There are hage crouds of people, snowcats, smoke and mud.
In addition I have 3 years of working as resquer on Elbrus plus a lot of time spent on the mountain while building a refugion, so, really I don't like to do it in usual way.
But this year I finished my skitour guiding season in the begining of June near Elbrus because I had a backcountry programm in Adil-Su and Adir-Su valley (it was great adventure, but I'll tell you about it in the next report). So, as I'm hear with all staff, why not? And I decided to make one more programm - skitour to Elbrus.
Beginning of June is maybe the best time to climb the mountain from South - there are not many people, there is enough snow for ascend and descend, but the weather is rather unstable, but it is not very critical when all the team uses skitour.
The team was very good. Three clients couldn't participate for different reasons, so there were just three of us on skitour. A small team is more mobile, quicker, and there is usually greater chance for real adventure.
The ascend programm was very standart.
PS. For each part of our journey you can download GPR tracks. Tracks to the start of "Kosaya Polka" is usual, but after this there are some differences from classic rout. You can read below, why it was nessesary to adjust the rout.
First day - acclimatization walk to the Maliy Donguz Orun ridge from Polyana Cheget to the top of ski lift.
Third day - ascend to 4070m using snowcat and walk up to 4400 m.
Forth day - acclimatization walk up to 4700 m. Above Skali Pastukhova.
Fifth day - acclimatization walk up to 4970 m. (there is a broken snowcat slightly below the start of travers of Kosaya Polka.
Six day – rest day. Fortunately, it was my birthday, so thanks a lot for everyone for their presents! They were really tasty!
Download track. The rout starts from 4970 - from the broken snowcat. It was very cold, so I was woory about battery in GPS.
Near the broken snowcat in the morning. Very cold!
Seventh day - Ascend to the top of West Summit 5642 and descend to Priut 11.
Usual weather during acclimatization - whiteout and snow.
We also have two reserve days for bad weather but we didn't use them and after sucsessful descend from the top of Elbrus we decided to change our flights so at the evening we were already in Moscow with our families.
Elbrus after 4 days of bad weather.
Sunrise on Bezengi Wall.
There are some things which don't change - comfort of the Sosnoviy Bor hotel, Muzafar's hospitality and Elbrus itseft!
During ascend I met some old friends!
Snow conditions and rout changes in time. And really I was surprised about the rout.
By some reason Kosaya Polka is already about 100 meters higher than the optimal rout to the pass, so you need to descend to the pass from "Telephonnaya Budka".
During acclimatization we have really greate powder, and freeride was fantastic, in spite of whiteout! But in the night before ascend to the top it was a strong wind, so there was little snow on the rout and it was very hard. From Skali Pastukhova we had to use crampons with skitour. But it was impossible to go by Kasaya Polka with crampons, so we moved 50-100 meters below it by good snow and we did a good traverse th the pass without any additional ascend and descend.
On the pass there was a huge amout of snow so it was rather hard to go.
At this moment I recognised that Elbrus changed also.
In last reports I have read that people used ropes on ascend and now it is really necessary. The ascend from the pass to the West Plateau is covered by ice for 70%. And it is very hard ice covered by thin snow, so it is really dangerous.
So, thanks a lot to Sergei Baranov and Ko for peril ropes.
From the middle of ascend we changed ski crampons to alpine ones, and take our ski to the backpacks.
Here we meat Alexandre Lebedev (thanks for photo) and the group of Alexandre Abramov and Alexey Vodolazkin, discuss the descend rout together.
From plateau to the top we used skitour again. Short photosession and start of desccend.
In the beginning we descend along the ascend rout but after West Plateau we take left to theb north part of the pass, so we descend to refugion Red Fox 5300. Snow conditions were not great because of the strong wind in the night, but the slope here is not too steep and the rout is rather safe, without stones. The only problem is that after refugion you need to slightly ascend 300-400 m to ride to the south. It wasd not quick and rather warm.
From the rout on the pass we ride to the south and after traverse 50-100 meters below ascend rout to the broken snowcat and further down. On the south slope snow conditions were much better so it was really fun descend!
Descend took aruond 1 hour, total time fro,m Priut 11 around 10 hours.
I hope that this report and tracks will halp you to skitour on Elbrus. The only thing I'd like to remember is that GPS track is a thing for descend from Elbrus. If you want to look to GPS on ascend that means that you need to go down, not up.
Good luck and be safe!
Thanks to A.Lebedev for photos near summit!