* Cost Includes In-Country Flights: Moscow to Mineralnye Vody to St. Petersburg
"You folks have a tremendous team of people. I didn't meet one person who didn't help to make the whole experience more meaningful, it was a life changing event. Thanks again for the tremendous experience, I look forward to the chance to join you on another expedition in the future."
— Steve S. | Read More Testimonials
Standing 18,510’ above the nearby Black and Caspian Seas, Russia’s Mt. Elbrus is Europe’s tallest mountain. Our Elbrus Northside Expedition ascends a less traveled route on this popular mountain. Highlights include:
- Visit Moscow and stroll across Red Square to explore the courtyards and cathedrals of the Kremlin, after the climb wander through St. Petersburg’s Hermitage and many canals.
- Travel through the remote countryside of Russia's Caucasus Mountains to reach the foot of Europe's highest peak.
- Climb the mountain virtually by ourselves as we ascend one of the world's Seven Summits as part of a small, independent expedition.
- Learn the subtleties and tricks of expedition style climbing as we move our camps higher up the mountain in preparation for a summit bid.
- Take part in an RMI adventure and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.
Standing in the heart of the rugged Caucasus Mountains, Mt. Elbrus rises impressively from the green plains that stretch northward into the heartland of Russia. RMI guides have been climbing Mt. Elbrus since the early 1990s and we have seen the mountain grow in popularity over the years. In our commitment to continually set the standard in mountain guiding excellence we are pleased to offer a climb of Mt. Elbrus' seldom visited North Side for a new, unique, and unmatched expedition to Europe’s highest point.
Our adventures begin a thousand miles to the North of Mt. Elbrus in Moscow - the political, economic, and cultural heart of Russia - before we fly south to the town of Mineralnye Vody, the gateway of the Caucasus. Simply reaching Base Camp gives climbers a rare glimpse of a part of Russia's countryside that has eluded the passage of time. The rising green foothills dotted with shepherds mounted on horseback give way to Mt. Elbrus, framed by the jagged peaks of the Caucasus. The route takes us from the mountain's base, sitting between ancient lava flows, up the rolling and rarely traveled glaciers of Mt. Elbrus' north side to the West Summit, the mountain's highest point. The climb is a moderate snow climb, comparable in difficulty to the standard route. However its remoteness attracts the more adventurous and we are normally the only team on the mountain. Due to the mountain's size and seclusion we climb "expedition style", acclimatizing as we move camps higher in preparation for the summit bid.
Upon returning from our climb we fly to St. Petersburg. On the shores of the Gulf of Finland, St. Petersburg is often described as the "Venice of the North" with canals that weave between the city’s stunning architecture and famous museums that amazing works of art. Our time in St. Petersburg is the ideal way to end our Russian adventures.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America's oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mount Rainier and Mount McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips. We work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. As the only American guide service to regularly lead climbs of Mt. Elbrus' Northside, we are also one of very few expeditions to guide to Elbrus' West Summit from the Northside instead of the slightly lower East Summit.
Our climb is led by our some of our top U.S. guides who bring years of international climbing experience to the expedition. We work closely with our Russian partner, a famous Soviet-ear climber, to organize and coordinate the trip. Our relationships there are the key to our trip's success and scaling Mt. Elbrus' overlooked Northside with these climbing veterans' leadership and support is an unforgettable experience. RMI’s trip preparation before departure takes care of the details for you, from hotels and airport transfers to arranging in country flights, so that you can focus on preparing for the climb instead of the distractions that come with coordinating logistics.
In Moscow and St. Petersburg we stay right in the center of the cities within a few minutes walking distance of the famous sites. While on the mountain we use RMI's own equipment brought from the U.S., ensuring that our expedition standards of quality, reliability, and comfort are met. The meals on the mountain are organized by our guides and cooked by them, keeping the team content, healthy, and strong throughout the climb. Our exceptional focus on detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine love of these adventures are what make our programs truly memorable.
ELBRUS SOUTHSIDE ALTERNATIVE
We also lead climbs of Mt. Elbrus' traditional route on the Southside of the mountain. This program is four days shorter and less technically and physically demanding than a Northside expedition as we use established huts on the mountain. Our Southside Climb is ideal for climbers looking for a slightly shorter climb or without expedition climbing experience.
Safety has always been RMI's top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI's experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our climbs of Mt. Elbrus. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, flexibility in our itinerary, daily weather forecasts via satellite, and diligent attention are taken as we venture to high altitudes. Comprehensive medical kits, rescue gear, and communications equipment are carried with the group throughout the expedition. Base Camp is also equipped with medical and rescue gear.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or email@example.com.
Day 1: Depart U.S.A. Depending on flight times and connections travel to Moscow, Russia typically takes almost 24 hours from the U.S.
Day 2: Arrive in Moscow (SVO). A group transfer is arranged from the airport to our hotel at 4:00 p.m. We can arrange a personal transfer for you if your flight arrives earlier in the day, after 3:00 p.m., or if you are arriving at a different airport. This will be at an additional cost, but is much less expensive than taking a taxi. Once we check-in to our hotel, the afternoon is free to rest and explore the city. A team orientation meeting is held at 7:00 p.m. We spend the night in Moscow at the Park Inn Sadu.
The streets of Moscow
Day 3: Moscow City Tour. We take a walking tour to visit Lenin's Tomb, Red Square, the G.U.M., St. Basil's Cathedral, and the Kremlin. The afternoon is free to explore the city. We spend the night at the Park Inn Sadu. (B)
Day 4: We have an early morning flight from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody. From the airport we drive to the town of Kislovodsk, the last town before entering the lower steppes of the Caucasus. We spend the rest of the day sorting our gear and preparing for the climb. Overnight in Kislovodsk. (B)
Traveling to Kislovodsk
Day 5: Depart for Base Camp (8,300’). A four-hour drive takes us into the heart of the lush foothills of the lower Caucasus to Mt. Elbrus Base Camp (8,300'). Once we establish our Base Camp, we take a short acclimatization hike to explore the remote valley and stretch our legs after the many long days of travel. (B, D)
Reaching Elbrus Base Camp
Day 6: Carry to 11,200’. We pack up a portion of our supplies and make a carry to our cache site below Camp 1. After depositing our cache and enjoying the views, we descend back to Base Camp for the night. (B, D)
Carrying gear to Camp 1
Day 7: Move to Camp 1 (12,300'). The route from Base Camp takes us above a narrow gorge and out of the high grasslands into the alpine zone, affording stunning views of the glaciers of Mt. Elbrus and the lower steppes of the Caucasus. The last stretch of the climb leads through the jumbled rock moraine along the Mikelchiran Glacier before cresting a final steep pitch into camp. (B, D)
Moving to Camp 1
Day 8: Back Carry and Acclimatization Day at Camp 1. After a leisurely breakfast we descend to our cache site at 11,200’ below Camp 1 to retrieve our cached gear. The afternoon is spent in camp resting and preparing for higher altitudes. (B, D)
Camp 1 on Elbrus Northside
Day 9: Training and Acclimatization Climb. We review basic mountaineering techniques such as ice axe arrest, crampon methods, and roped travel. Climbing the Mikelchiran Glacier, we ascend towards Camp 2 at Lenz Rocks at 15,200’, gaining familiarity with the route and exposure to new altitudes. We have the possibility to carry a small portion of our supplies to cache at Camp 2 in anticipation of our summit attempt. We return to our tents at Camp 1 for the night. (B, D)
Climbing above Camp 1
Day 10: Move to High Camp (15,200’). After establishing our camp, final preparations are made for Summit Day and we settle in early in anticipation of tomorrow's summit attempt. (B, D)
Moving to High Camp on Elbrus Northside
Day 11: Summit Day! After an alpine start we climb from Lenz Rocks across the upper portion of the Mikelchiran Glacier until we reach the Saddle at 17,700'. Mt. Elbrus has two large summit domes and the Saddle separates the East Summit from the West Summit. Both are comparable in size, but the West Summit is slightly higher, and our objective. Our route gets steeper as we gain the upper summit plateau where we follow a broad ridge to the Summit. After enjoying the summit and its impressive views of the Caucasus mountain range, we descend down the route. Once we are back at High Camp, we pack up all of our gear up and continue our descent to Camp 1. (B, D)
Leaving High Camp on the summit bid The final stretches to the summit
Day 12: Weather Day. This extra day is scheduled into the itinerary in case we encounter bad weather or need additional time for acclimatization. Having this extra day has proven to dramatically improve the team's success. (B, D)
Day 13: Weather Day. This extra day is scheduled into the itinerary in case we encounter bad weather or need additional time for acclimatization. Having this extra day has proven to dramatically improve the team's success. (B, D)
The descent down the mountain
Day 14: Descend to Base Camp. We depart Camp 1 and start the descent, retracing our steps to Base Camp. An afternoon shuttle takes us back to Kislovodsk where we enjoy a delicious celebration dinner, hot showers, and a good night's sleep. (B)
Returning to Base Camp
Day 15: We have a transfer from our hotel to Mineralnye Vody for our flight to St. Petersburg. We spend the night at the Hotel Arcadia in St. Petersburg. (B)
The canals of St. Petersburg
Day 16: We take a tour of the stunning city of St. Petersburg. Must see attractions include a visit to St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, the Hermitage, and walking along the banks of the city's many canals. In the evening we take a private boat cruise on the city's canals. We spend our final night in Russia at the Hotel Arcadia. (B)
Visiting St. Petersburg
Day 17: Return flights from St. Petersburg (LED) to the U.S. (B)
Key: B, L, D = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Mt. Elbrus Northside Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2015.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
2 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.
BACKPACK: A 90+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb. Your pack must be large enough for your layers, climbing gear, and food, as well as a portion of your tent and group load (kitchen equipment). A separate summit pack isn't necessary.
DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.
SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated 0° to 15° F. Either goose down or synthetic.
SLEEPING PAD: Full length inflatable or closed cell pad.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.
1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
CRAMPONS: The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.
Head Guides' Pick
WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.
GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.
GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
HEAVY WEIGHT INSULATED GLOVE OR MITTEN: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves or mittens. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.
RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood. We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: This expedition-style heavy parka should extend below the waist and must have an insulated hood. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill as down weighs less. The parka does not have to be waterproof, though that is a nice feature.
HIKING SHIRT: Lightweight, synthetic shirt with either long or short sleeves. The long sleeve is preferred for sun/bug protection.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
2 - 3 UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.
RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.
HIKING SHORTS: Good for lower elevations and warm, sunny days.
Feet Guides' Pick
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Insulated double boots are the preferred choice. They provide the best insulation as well as a more rigid sole for kicking steps and holding crampons. Leather mountaineering boots that have completely rigid soles are also adequate, but they will need to be insulated and may still result in cold feet on summit days. Bring one pair of chemical foot warmers if you are using the leather mountaineering boots.
HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.
LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.
GAITERS: We recommend a knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing.
3 - 4 PAIR SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.
AQUAMIRA: Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.
2 - 3 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
2 SETS ALKALINE BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.
LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.
2 CASUAL PANTS
4 SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.
PEE BOTTLE & PEE FUNNEL (FOR WOMEN): Pee bottle should be 1 to 1 1/2 quart size.
Personal First Aid Kit
ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL
PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)
SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE
ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.
ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness
Utensils Guides' Pick
BOWL: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.
INSULATED MUG: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.
SPOON or SPORK: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.
READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL
PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.
COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.
COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY
2 EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS
COPY OF VISA INVITATION LETTER
Purchase travel insurance.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, group cooking equipment, climbing ropes, avalanche probes and shovels.
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.
Breakfast and dinner meals on the mountain are included as indicated in our Trip Itinerary. With the exception of hotel breakfasts, most restaurant meals are on your own. Your trip fee does not included bottled water and drinks.
Please list any special dietary needs on the Participant Information Form. The form must be returned to the RMI Office 90 days prior to the program departure date.
You are responsible for your own mountain lunches for 10 days. Lunch items should weigh about 6 - 7 lbs. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Russia, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take lunch foods that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small packets of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Mountain Breakfasts and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. One typical main course dinner might be spaghetti with fresh vegetables. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
This trip is open to individuals in excellent physical condition who have prior knowledge and are comfortable with rope travel, the use of crampons, and ice axe arrest. This is a great first trip to altitudes above 15,000 feet.
Simply put, climbers perform better and enjoy the adventure more if they have a high degree of fitness and comfort with basic mountaineering skills. This program’s high altitude and snowy terrain contribute to make this a very worthwhile challenge.
Recommended climbing experiences prior to Elbrus northside include climbs which introduce climbers to basic rope, ice axe and cramponing skills:
- 4-day or 5-day Summit Climb on Mt. Rainier
- Expedition Skills Seminar on Mt. Rainier
- Mountaineer’s route on Mt. Whitney
- Avalanche Gulch route on Mt. Shasta
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For Elbrus northside, you are preparing for:
- Trekking and glacier climbing with a 50-60 lb load
- A 12+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. In addition to travel arrangements, Erin can also provide information and coverage for evacuation policies and insurance options. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation
We strongly encourage participants to consider travel insurance, a medical evacuation policy, and a security evacuation policy. Travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.
*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.
Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. Travel insurance providers (such as AIG Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance) typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.
Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
|Travelex Insurance||Global Rescue|
Travel Advisories / Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as passport and visa requirements with the US Department of State.
Travel to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) typically takes about 24 hours from the U.S. depending on your departure city, available connections, and flight times. Flights generally arrive in the afternoon on Day 2 of the itinerary. A group transfer is arranged from the airport to our hotel at 4:00 p.m.
Departing flights from St. Petersburg (LED) may be booked for any time on the final day of the program.
A valid passport is required when traveling to Russia. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
A Visa is also required for entry to Russia. This must be done prior to your arrival or you will not be permitted to enter the country.
Our office will provide you with the current application form, a written itinerary and a letter of invitation from our hosting organization in Russia. You will need to submit these forms along with a valid passport, an additional passport photo and payment to your local Russian Consulate or a travel document company that can assist you in processing the Russian Visa. This generally takes place 2 - 3 months before the trip departure and will take 4 - 20 business days to process. Once your visa arrives, please check the date to ensure it covers your complete stay.
Upon arrival proceed to the Immigrations desk for foreign travelers. Proceed to Baggage Claim and then to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together.
Our office will coordinate a group transfer from the airport to our hotel at 4:00 p.m. We can arrange a personal transfer for you if your flight arrives earlier in theday, after 3:00 p.m., or if you are arriving at a different airport. This will be at an additional cost, but is less expensive than taking a taxi.
The provided transportation in Russia as stated in the itinerary is via private vehicle.
Immunizations & Travel Medicine
For the most current information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Travelers often suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.
Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after using any bathroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water, and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe dry excess moisture in drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
Food - If you can cook it, boil it, or peel it; you can usually eat it. Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Be wary of ice cream and shellfish. Always avoid any undercooked meat.
Elbrus is a remote mountain without easy access to definitive medical care. We are our own rescue team.
The medical facilities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other urban areas in Russia are limited except for routine, non-emergency needs. We will work with our tour operator to access an appropriate level of care should the need arise.
Russia Country Facts
Russia is the largest country in the world at almost twice the size of the United States. Officially known as the Russian Federation, its main attractions include art, magnificent (and newly restored) cathedrals and monasteries, treasures and palaces of the czars, the performing arts, health spas, river cruises, historic sites, spectacular scenery, Siberia, and Moscow's Kremlin.
Russia has a captivating history. Tradition says the Viking Rurik came to Russia in 862 and founded the first Russian dynasty in Novgorod. Through the 10th and 11th centuries, Christianity united the various tribes, but Mongol raids broke the Russian territories into smaller dukedoms. It was Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) who is credited with founding the Russian state. The succeeding period saw power wrested into the hands of the czars and expanded Russian territory. These actions ultimately led to revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) in 1922. The Union dissolved in 1991 and Russia became the federal presidential republic that it is today.
Russia will appeal to travelers who have a sense of adventure and an open mind. Don't expect a relaxing vacation and, unless you're in Moscow or St. Petersburg, don't expect deluxe accommodations - a trip through Russia requires determination, flexibility and plenty of patience.
The climbing season extends from May to September, with the highest summit success rate from mid-July through mid-August. September through April comprises the rainy and winter seasons.
The weather in Moscow and while traveling to and from the mountains can be very warm.
While there can be no guarantees of perfect weather in the mountains, our expeditions take full advantage of both the weather and route conditions for this expedition, and utilize prime months for optimal climbing experiences.
Although it is not expected that we dress formally, we should dress modestly. Casual and comfortable clothing and shoes are suggested. Showing expensive cameras, watches, jewelry, etc. is considered unseemly and may attract unwanted attention.
Men shake hands when greeting one another and maintain direct eye contact. Women generally shake hands when meeting one another for the first time. In greetings between men and women, a light handshake is common. It is expected that you remove your gloves to shake hands, regardless of how cold it may be. The three alternating kisses used in greetings are common only between friends and family.
Chivalry, for the most part, is still valued in Russia. Men are expected to hold the door, offer their seat, or offer their coat.
Electricity in Russia is different than in the United States. Russia has standardized on type F (Gost) sockets and plugs. Type C plugs and power points are still commonly found in older buildings. Both are used for 230 volt, 50 hertz appliances. U.S. appliances will require plug adaptors, convertors or transformers. Remember to bring any necessary adaptors if you plan to recharge electronics.
The current currency of Russia is the Ruble. Currency can be easily converted at banks, hotels and kiosks. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You should find that $500-$800 for spending money is adequate for restaurant meals, drinks and pocket money. Moscow has a very high cost of living, and the falling dollar has not helped the U.S. traveler. For this reason we would suggest taking a little more spending money on this trip.
Cash machines are still the best way to get money in country, so if you are in doubt, be sure to bring your cash card. Cash machines are readily available in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of the main urban areas.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets in any area which caters to tourists.
Local waiters, drivers, and other service personnel expect to be tipped. Ten to fifteen percent is standard.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
Deposit Payments: A deposit payment of $1,500 per person secures your reservation. Deposit payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, e-check, check, or wire transfer.
Balance Payments: The balance payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program, and we will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your balance payment is not received within 90 days of the program, your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation. Please note that balance payments may be made via check, e-check or wire transfer only.
Once we receive written notification that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply:
- A fee of $1,000 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 90 days before departure.
- There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 90 days before your program.
Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, we cannot make exceptions to this policy.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
The current fee includes:
- RMI Leadership
- Hotel accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
- All park entrance fees
- Sight seeing arrangements as indicated in the itinerary
- Airfare from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody to St. Petersburg
- All group transportation in country as stated in the itinerary
- All breakfast and dinner meals on the mountain and other meals as stated in the itinerary
- All group cooking, climbing and camping equipment
The fee does not include:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance, medical evacuation insurance and security evacuation insurance
- Passport and visa fees
- Excess baggage fees from U.S. or flights within Russia
- Departure taxes
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Bottled water and personal drinks
- Customary guide gratuities
- Additional room charges including laundry service and other personal expenses
- Hotel accommodations not indicated in the itinerary
- Transfer from St. Petersburg Hotel to Airport for outbound flight
- Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
* Single Travelers: Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
Managing risk is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber’s own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.’s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
Any Participant under the age of 18 must be accompanied on the trip by a parent or legal guardian and both the Participant and parent or legal guardian must sign all forms.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality service provided to the Participant by others in connection with the trip, including but not limited to the services provided by airlines, hotels, and motor vehicle operators, and that RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program.
RMI recommends and strongly advises that the Participant have or purchase personal life, medical, accident, travel, baggage, trip cancellation, and other insurance that may pertain to participation in the program. The Participant understands that RMI provides no such insurance coverage in connection with the trip.