Jeffrey Glasbrenner and I are now up at the high camp at 12,700′ in the luxurious LeapRUS huts. Fine dining and great views! Today we rode a Jeep up to the hut and then climbed to 15,200′ for acclimatization and are now enjoying a great dinner! We will do another acclimatization hike tomorrow then go for the summit of Mount Elbrus on the 27th, fingers crossed for good weather!
On July 12th we were blessed with near perfect weather and climbing conditions when we reached Mount Elbrus North Summit in Russia, the highest peak in all of Europe at 18,506′, and one of the ‘seven summits’ on Earth. David, Matthew, and myself began our climb from our high camp at 11 PM on July 11th, as the elevation gain from high camp to the summit of Mount Elbrus is 6,200′, a big summit day! With a slight breeze we made our way up the glaciated slopes of Mount Elbrus in the dark using our headlamps, up to Lenz Rocks at 15,000′, then onward up the glacier to the saddle which is in between the East and West (highest) summits of Mount Elbrus. We continued on up the West summit to the highest point in all of Europe at 9:30 AM, had unobstructed views as far as the eye can see, it was truly a magnificent day. We then descended back down and reached our high camp in the early afternoon. The following day we descended back down to base camp where we had a nice dinner and shower and slept in our comfortable cabin. Yesterday we drove from the base camp on Mount Elbrus back to the town of Pyatigorsk and had a celebration dinner, now we are heading to St. Petersburg for some sightseeing and then home. It has been a wonderful trip!
Note: This was a ‘North Side’ climb of Mount Elbrus, whereas our regular and other recent programs on are on the ‘South Side’ of Mount Elbrus. Madison Mountaineering has led successful expeditions on both sides of Mount Elbrus, and as a boutique mountaineering guide service we strive to develop customer expeditions for intrepid climbers!
Garrett and Matthew gazing at Mount Elbrus from the hotel in Pyatigorsk
Summit selfie at the top of Mount Elbrus
Garrett and our driver Yuri enjoying dinner in base camp
Matthew and David on the approach to high camp
Matthew and David on the summit of Mount Elbrus
Watching the sun rise from up high on the glaciated slopes of Mount Elbrus
David and Matthew descending from high camp after a successful summit of Mount Elbrus!
Mount Elbrus north route summit!! Congratulations to our team of climbers for making a safe and successfully ascent of the tallest mountain in Europe. Listen to our audio dispatch below, Garrett Madison checking in after reaching the summit with David and Matthew. Photos and complete expedition recap will be posted shortly. Onward and upward!
Garrett with David and Matthew at high camp at the north side of Mount Elbrus, roughly 12,500ft. Our team did a acclimatization hike today. Plan to rest tomorrow and then go to the summit tomorrow night. Hopefully summit the morning of the 12th then return to high camp that day. Descend back to base camp on the 13th, everyone is doing well and excited to make the summit ascent!
Pictures to come!! Onward and upward!
Yesterday we reached the Mount Elbrus summit at 6:45 AM, the highest mountain in all of Europe. We had fantastic conditions, very calm winds and almost no clouds in the sky, allowing us to see for miles around!
We began our summit push in the dark using our headlamps at 2:45 AM and passed a few teams as we made our way up the snow covered glaciers, eventually reaching the saddle between the east and west peak around 5:30 AM. The sunrise was spectacular! Then we continued up to the west peak (highest) and to the summit. We had it all to ourselves for about 30 minutes, enjoying the 360 degree views of the Caucasus mountains, then another climbing team reached the top and we took a few photos together. Accompanying the climbers was a wolf dog, who was very friendly! On our way down we used our skis / snowboard, a fun way to quickly descend part of the peak. We descended back to our hut and now have reached the village of Terskol, and are planning a few fun activities here today. Tomorrow we will head back to Moscow!
Greetings from 12,870 ft. on Mount Elbrus! We are currently at our mountain hut for the night. We had a great day riding the lifts up from the village of Terskol, where we spent the previous night, after an acclimatization hike on the local trails. Today we climbed to 15,000 ft. on Mount Elbrus to continue our acclimatization strategy and we skied down which was very fun and saved a lot of time. Conditions were great for skiing and snowboarding. Our newly constructed mountain hut on mount Elbrus is very clean, has wifi, nice bathrooms, and we are served 3 meals a day. We feel a little spoiled but we appreciate this level of comfort in the mountain. Tomorrow our plan is to continue our acclimatization in preparation for a summit attempt in the following days. The weather forecast looks promising so we hope for good conditions in the days ahead.
Garrett Madison, America’s premier Everest climber and guide, began guiding professionally in 1999 on Mount Rainier. As Expedition Leader, he has personally led over 60 climbers (clients) to the summit of Everest since 2009, more than any other guide. In 2011, Garrett led the first expedition in history where climbers succeeded in the Everest – Lhotse combination, reaching the summit of two 8000-meter peaks in less than 24 hours (while personally guiding one climber peak to peak in 21 hours). He has since repeated this ‘double header’ combination in 2013 and 2018 and is currently the only climber in the world to have done so. Garrett holds the record for guiding climbers (5) in reaching the summits of two 8000-meter peaks within 24 hours.
In 2014, Garrett led the first successfully ‘guided’ ascent of K2, arguably the hardest and most dangerous mountain in the world. He reached the summit with 2 clients and 3 Sherpas on July 27, 2014, and again on July 22, 2018 with 8 clients, 3 guides and 15 Sherpas reaching the top. Garrett also regularly guides many ‘7 Summits’ expeditions during the year such as Mount Vinson, Carstensz Pyramid, Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, etc., as well as first ascents of unclimbed peaks. As an Emmy award winning producer, Garrett is regularly consulted on Everest and other film productions, including Sports Illustrated’s Capturing Everest.
Garrett Madison holds multiple high-altitude mountaineering world records, such as being the only person to climb Mount Everest and nearby Mount Lhotse in a day, 3 times. He is the only American to climb K2 twice, and personally has led more climbers to the summits of Mount Everest and K2 than anyone.
In addition to leading high-altitude expeditions worldwide throughout the year, Garrett consults on mountaineering equipment product testing for Mountain Hardwear and speaks professionally to groups about his mountaineering experiences. Because of Garrett’s unparalleled high altitude mountaineering experience, in 2019 Mountain Hardwear chose to collaborate with Garrett to develop a collection of the best high altitude clothing and equipment, designed to perform in the most extreme conditions
Leading 7 expeditions to Mt. Everest and having observed hundreds of climbers in challenging situations on the mountain, Garrett Madison has identified which techniques work, and more importantly which techniques do not work, in scaling the world’s highest Peak. Garrett articulates his strategy for success and survival on Everest and touches on the following topics:
Garrett Madison’s presentation will engage your audience like never before as he recounts real-life events that have shaped his strategy for success on Everest, with stunning video and photo content that will bring you directly to the mountain.
”What a great presentation! Everyone was riveted during your talk! The images were outstanding and your message really resonated with everyone. Several people told me that this was the best dinner speaker ever. I think you inspired some future mountain climbers!”
– Tom Balistreri, President MUHS Fathers Club
Mt. Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe, and is a non-technical climb but requires good physical conditioning and use of crampons on the hard snow slopes. We begin our adventure in the old capital city of St. Petersburg with a city tour of this beautiful European city, then transfer to the Baksan valley where we spend several days acclimatizing on the mountain slopes before making our ascent of Elbrus. Our itinerary is well thought out as we have ample time for acclimatization and weather delays. The summit provides amazing views of the Caucus mountain range. This is an excellent peak to train on if you are intending to climb in the Himalaya or Alaska ranges.
We regularly organize custom programs for private groups. We are happy to accommodate your program dates, as well as other specific requests related to the itinerary, amenities, and group size. Please contact us if you would like to know more about custom programs.
Day 1: Arrive Moscow. After retrieving your bags and clearing customs, our representative, identifiable by a Madison Mountaineering sign, will transport you to our hotel. We will gather together as a team for a nice welcome dinner.
Day 2: Moscow city tour. After a leisurely breakfast, we will tour the city of Moscow with a Russian guide. Highlights include Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the Kremlin Armoury.
Day 3: Travel to Terskol, at the foot of Mt. Elbrus. In the morning, we fly from Moscow to Mineral Vody, then travel by motorcoach to the Baksan Valley arriving at our hotel in Terskol, our base of operations situated at the foot of Mt. Elbrus. After settling in, your guide will conduct a gear check. There are well-equipped climbing shops in the area for those last-minute or forgotten items. Options also exist for gear rental. The village of Terskol is located on the edge of the 60-mile long Baksan Valley at an elevation of 2140 m / 7,021 ft.
Day 4: We spend the day acclimatizing by hiking through the Baksan Valley and touring the Cheget Cupola. We sleep in our hotel in Terskol.
Day 5: We take the ski lift and go for an acclimatization hike on Mt. Cheget (3470 m / 11,385 ft). From here we have a perfect view of Mt. Elbrus, as well as our climbing route.
Day 6: We gather our climbing gear and ride the ski lifts to the Shelter LeapRus huts (3700 m / 12,140 ft), hike up to 4526 m / 14,850 ft. We have dinner in the huts and enjoy the fantastic view.
Day 7: From the huts, we continue acclimatizing and conduct a climbing skills review. Afterward, we make final preparations for our summit attempt.
Day 8: Summit Day! We awake early for an alpine start and depart camp before dawn. We climb to the summit of Europe’s highest peak and then descend back to the LeapRus huts for the night. *We have an additional cost option to ride a snowcat up to 4550 m / 14,928 ft at the start of the climb; shortening our summit day and increasing our chance for success.
Day 9: We descend from the huts to our hotel in Terskol for a celebration BBQ dinner as we recap our summit success.
Day 10: Extra day in case of bad weather or other delays.
Day 11: Travel to St. Petersburg. We depart early morning from Terskol, travel by motorcoach to the airport in Mineral Vody and fly to St. Petersburg.
Day 12: St. Petersburg city tour. After breakfast, we will meet with our Russian tour guide and visit the major sites of St. Petersburg, such as the Hermitage Museum (The Winter Palace), The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood, and the Fabergé Museum.
Day 13: Depart St. Petersburg. After a morning shuttle to the Pulkovo Airport (LED), we bid farewell to Russia and depart for home.
Mount Elbrus Climb: $5,950
July 24 – August 6
August 1 – 14
• Airport pick up and transfer to the hotel upon arrival in Moscow and St. Petersburg
• All accommodations and transportation in-country during the program on regular itinerary
• All domestic flights
• All hut fees
• Park entrance fees
• Tents, ropes, and other group climbing equipment
• All expedition logistics including climbing permits
• All equipment necessary to make a strong and safe attempt for the summit
• All expedition staff including mountain guide and local support staff
• All breakfast and dinners while climbing (snacks not included)
• City tours of Moscow and St. Petersburg
Costs Do Not Include:
• Bank and wire transfer fees (if applicable)
• Russian tourist visa fees
• International air travel to and from Russia
• Food or dining outside of the climbing period
• Alcoholic beverages
• Bottled or canned beverages
• Specialty coffee or espresso drinks
• Personal clothing and equipment
• Personal travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance and medical or security evacuation insurance
• Any rescue costs or costs of early departure from the expedition
• Costs from arriving early or leaving late
• Any costs due to flight delays/cancellations
• Personal excess baggage costs
• Customary gratuities to local expedition staff, porters and guides
• Personal climbing equipment (see equipment list)
• Incidental expenses such as tips, telephone, bar, laundry, or other personal expenses.
• Force majeure / costs for delays that are beyond the control of Madison Mountaineering LLC and the expedition
• There are no refunds for the deposit or balance payments for this expedition. This includes but is not limited to, expeditions that conclude without a summit or progress towards a summit for participants due to route conditions, weather, insufficient manpower, or any other factor outside the control of Madison Mountaineering. Expedition leader has the final say on the expedition conclusion and will make all best efforts within our margin of safety.
• Participants that choose to leave an active expedition for any reason are not entitled to any refunds
• Madison Mountaineering, LLC highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions
• Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Madison Mountaineering must adhere to a stringent refund policy
• Deposit due with registration materials
• All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified
• Participants whose balances are not received by the 120-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their funds and their place on the expedition
Note: Madison Mountaineering, LLC reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible. Deposits paid by participants acknowledge the above cancellation terms.
• Ice Axe: A 65 cm ice axe.
• Crampons: A general mountaineering crampon
• Climbing Harness: An alpine harness rather than a sport climbing harness
• Carabineers: 2 locking
• Trekking Poles: Adjustable poles
• Trekking Boots: comfortable trekking boots or mid top hiking shoes.
• Climbing Boots: A double plastic or insulated synthetic boot.
• Gaiters: To keep snow out of your boots
• Socks: Minimum 3 pair thick mountaineering socks and 3 pair liner socks
• Short Underwear: 1-2 pair of synthetic short underwear
• Long Underwear: 1-2 pair lightweight long underwear pants and shirts. 1 pair of heavy expedition weight long underwear.
• Trekking pants: Nylon pants worn during warm days.
• Soft Shell Jacket: A hooded jacket
• Soft Shell pants: For trekking and climbing
• Insulated Jacket: PrimaLoft or Down
• Expedition Down Parka: A hooded down jacket with 800 minimum down fill.
• Insulated Pants: PrimaLoft or Down, these should have full side zippers.
• Hard Shell Jacket: To be worn in wet conditions
• Hard Shell Pants: To be worn in wet conditions, these pants should have full side zippers.
• Headlamp: Bring extra batteries
• Warm Hat: A warm fleece or wool hat.
• Balaclava: to cover your face and neck on windy days.
• Sun hat: A baseball style sun camp.
• Buff: 1-2 of these to wear around your neck & face to block the wind, UV rays, dust.
• Glacier Glasses: wrap around style sunglasses with dark lenses
• Goggles: With dark lenses.
• Soft Shell Gloves: 1 pair
• Shell gloves with insulated liner: 1 pair
• Shell mittens with insulated liner: 1 pair
• Backpack: A 40 liter back pack.
• Sleeping Bag: Rated to at least -20 °F. Down is preferable over synthetic.
• Compression stuff sacks: for reducing volume for your sleeping bag and down jacket.
• Headlamp: Bring a spare set of batteries
• Sunscreen: SPF 50 or stronger
• Lip screen: SPF 30 or stronger
• Water bottles: 2 bottles with 1 liter capacity each
• Water Bottle Parkas: To keep your water from freezing
• Pee Bottle: 1+ liter capacity recommended
• Pee Funnel: For Women
• Knife: Optional
• Toiletry Bag: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, baby wipes, etc.
• Hand Sanitizer: 2 small bottles
• Hand warmers / Toe warmers: 1-2 sets of each for summit day
• Trash Compactor bags (3): To line stuff sacks and separate gear
• Camera: lightweight with extra batteries
• Travel Clothes: For days in St. Petersburg and in Moscow.
• Large Duffel Bag with lock: for transporting all personal gear during the climb, waterproof is best.
• Small duffel bag: To store items in the hotel
• Small Personal First Aid Kit: Athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofen, Moleskin, blister care products, personal medications, cough drops.
• Water purification system: Steripen or tablets
‣ Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude illness
‣ Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxin or Azithromycin for gastro intestinal or respiratory illness
‣ Ibuprofen for muscle soreness
‣ Pepto Bismol for loose stool
‣ Excedrin for headaches
‣ Anti-nausea medications.
• Climbing Snacks:
‣ Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix: Bring a supply for 6 days.
‣ Energy Gel: Single serving gel packs such as GU, Clifshot, Powergel, etc.)
‣ Energy Bars: Power bar, Cliff bar, etc.
‣ Candy Bars: Snickers, Mars, Twix, Milkey Way, etc.
Madison Mountaineering is recognized for well thought out strategy in high altitude climbing expeditions, as well as high-quality service throughout. Because we have two decades of experience in the planning and coordination of mountaineering expeditions, our reputation is excellent. We strive to make each expedition the best possible experience for our climbers and focus on our 3 primary goals of success in reaching the summit, returning safely, and having fun!
Our guides are some of the best and most experienced in the industry, having a strong grasp of technical climbing, expedition, and high altitude experience, along with strong interpersonal skills. Our teams are small and equipped with the best support available to ensure the highest chance of success. We are renowned for our comfortable base camps, high-quality food, first-rate communications, and medical support services, all of which are overseen by a professional member of our team.
Most of our climbers have either climbed with us before, been referred by a friend who has climbed with us, or met one of our teams while attempting another peak and decided to join us for their next expedition. We work hard to facilitate safe, successful, and enjoyable expeditions for all of our climbers. Our track record and past climber testimonials prove we are not only experts in our field, but we also love what we do!