Mount Elbrus

Location: Longitude 43°21’18″North Latitude 42°26’21″East
Altitude: 5,642 metres (18,510 ft)
First Ascent: A. W. Moore, F. Gardiner, F. Cruford Grove, Horace Walker, Peter Knubel in 1874

Mount Elbrus is an inactive volcano in the western Caucasus mountain range in Russia, near the border with Georgia. Mt. Elbrus’s highest peak is the highest mountain in the Caucasus, in Russia and also in all of Europe. Mt. Elbrus’s west summit rises to 5,642 metres (18,510 ft); the east summit is lower at 5,621 metres (18,442 ft). The local (Balkar) name, Mingi-Tau, means ‘resembling a thousand mountains’, because Elbrus is such a large mountain. The mountain’s permanent icecap feeds twenty-two glaciers, which in turn feed the Baksan, Kuban, and Malka Rivers. Mount Elbrus was last volcanically active in the 1st century AD.

Challenging ascent routes have been identified, for example arriving from the east up the Iryk valley, along the Irykchat glacier and over the Irykchat pass (3667m) on to snowfields below the ribs of the eastern spur. By number of deaths, Elbrus is one of the world’s most lethal mountains: the average annual death toll on Elbrus is 15-30 climbers, but forty-eight climbers, skiers and snowboarders died in the Mount Elbrus area in the year 2004. Sudden storms and extremely cold weather are very common in this region, and there are many frostbite and hypothermia injuries and deaths on the mountain every year. Due to political unrest and the threat from Chechen extremists, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have advised against travel to the Elbrus region for the past eight years.

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